One of the most important parts of reading, from a skills and foundation point of view, is building vocabulary. This is particularly true for young readers engaging with texts in their second language, but is generally relevant to first language learners as well.
How robust the approach to building vocabulary is can depend on a variety of factors. Some readers can sort of 'absorb' new words just through the process of guessing from context and doing a wide range of extensive reading. Others can get by reasonably well enough by occasionally referring to a dictionary or asking an adult for explanation and elaboration when it seems called for. Some readers benefit from writing up word lists with basic definitions.
Working with learners of all ages in a context where English was a foreign language and a major priority of reading in English was to develop vocabulary, some years ago I developed a workbook approach to supplement reading texts called 'Word Hoard' (and later: 'Word Wise'). It worked so well that I thought it would be a good idea to apply it as an optional resource for the World Adventure Kids stories as well.
What follows is an overview of how to use the World Adventure Kids Word Wise resource (available as a free PDF download here) and what it covers and why. I've also included an introductory/instructional video specially made for the children-users themselves (though I'm sure teachers and parents could benefit from it as well!).
Basically, Word Wise WAK 2-1 is a 69-page workbook designed to be used in conjunction with the World Adventure Kids reading sets. It can be printed out and added to progressively as learners encounter and explore new words in the story texts. It caters to 8 'units' of 20 words each (hence 160 words altogether), but these numbers can be easily adjusted upwards or downwards based on reader and classroom preferences.
The first step involves the Master Wordlist at the start of the book. As learners read through and experience World Adventure Kids, the idea is that they look for words that feel new or that they would like to explore more. When a word has been chosen, it is entered first in the Master Wordlist at the front of the book (to create an initial reference point) -- the example used here is the word 'adventure'.
Each word is then placed into a special work grid, presented in the workbook as above, with three word grids per page and twenty per 'unit'. This is where the word is going to be really worked with and explored in a much more robust fashion, and the video below explains and demonstrates how it all works (this was specifically made for young readers to understand the process, by the way!):
So, in essence, a word grid features the following exploration:
A. Listing the word
B. Translating it into a learner's first language (or writing a definition for it)
C. Writing the word out three times neatly
D. Identifying the word's part of speech
E. Finding words that represent related ideas (building 'convocation' and lexical sets)
F. Writing the word in context using the full example sentence initially encountered in the World Adventure Kids text
G. Writing the word in a new sentence of the learner's own creation, using it accurately in a new context and/or personalising its use
H. Drawing a sketch or diagram (or pasting on a picture) to help visually conceptualise the word
Having experimented with vocabulary development for children over many years, I've found this has been one of the most comprehensive when it comes to really exploring the notion and use of a word.
Note that the grid doesn't necessarily need to be filled out in that order, and I have in fact seen children complete the grid in all sorts of different sequences. Great! Let them find what works for them. I've also found that a basic dictionary, physical or online, is a great help for filling out some of these sections.
When a word grid has been completed (or completed to the best of the learner's ability), it can be checked by a parent or teacher (you'll probably find it easier to check several at a time) and have 'stars' allocated for each complete 'row' on the grid. There are six star rows in each grid, and many of them represent 'easy points' (for example, writing the word out, finding its part of speech, copying the sentence it comes from in the main text, etc.). This star point allocation is meant to be reasonably flexible; I have, for example, been willing to circle a complete star in cases where most of the row was successfully completed.
The star points can be tallied on each page of the workbook (there is a space at the bottom of each page to do this) and then a points tally can be made for an entire 'unit' of 20 words. There are basically 120 star points per unit up for grabs, and I've divided them into grade rankings (not very scientific or statistical, mind; I've just found that this allocation tends to reward learners willing to put in the hard yards without slapping an unnecessarily shocking grade on those who aren't quite as dedicated!).
There is also a chart at the end of the workbook that allows learners and teachers/parents to track how well they performed across all of the units.
The final part of a unit features an integration/use activity encouraging learners to write 'a report, article, short essay or story using at least 15 of the vocabulary items from the unit'. This is strictly optional of course, and one of the great things about this printable resource is that, if you feel this is going just that little bit too much overboard, you can always not include it!
The basic idea here is for the learners to do some extended writing of their own, using the words they've explored for a targeted writing purpose.
Here are just some of the ways this section could be used for readers of World Adventure Kids:
1. Write a quick report about what has happened in your adventure so far.
2. Write about some of the new things you've learned so far (World Adventure Kids is rich in subject-based learning, so this ought to be a relatively rich area to choose from).
3. Rewrite key parts of your adventure so far, using past tense (the adventure itself is written in the present tense, so this can be an interesting way to highlight differences between the two tenses).
4. Create a spin-off story (take one or more parts of the adventure and add new narrative to change or extend it in some way).
5. Rewrite the key points of the adventure so far from the perspective of one of the other characters (for example, pretend to be a different team member or even Golden Sky or a Jump Jet/Heliporter pilot observing the adventure from a distance).
6. Create a timeline or map with labels summarising the adventure so far (good for learners who aren't confident with extensive writing but may like more visual activities).
Generally speaking, I've found this section to be a great way to encourage reviewing and rethinking over what one has read so far, with the new vocabulary integrated into the process. There is a second listing in the summary at the back of the workbook which allows a score to be allocated for this writing section alongside the actual word building grid work.
So there is Word Wise for World Adventure Kids!
I've gone into quite a lot of detail here, which I hope hasn't been off-putting, but I would remind you that this sort of word work isn't a necessity when it comes to engaging with World Adventure Kids. For those who want to squeeze a bit more out of it, however, this can be a particularly rich resource.
Funnily enough, and despite the work involved, I've found that most children actually like the Word Wise approach and get into a nice rhythm with it. Many of them are very proud of the end result and get a real sense of having learned a lot of new things. And the pictures/conceptualisations... my goodness, kids are brilliant with that part and make us adults look very one dimensional indeed!
If you're interested in using the Word Wise approach in other sorts of language learning contexts, you might like to also check out my post here:
There is a more extensive instructional video there for teachers as well as adaptable open source versions of the Word Wise resource for you to download and use as you will.