Using Categories to Teach Vocab

By Chelsea Ebert

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Dr. Susan Neuman came up with WOW. It stands for world of words. It helps children to become more aware of words and how useful words can be. Children need to learn more words on their own so they can expand their vocabulary.
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Using categories is a way for students to understand words. Example: A pear is a fruit which is healthy to eat. The category can be fruit and other words such as apple and peach could be classified altogether in the fruit category. Another example is BINGO. The students have to classify the letters under either B-I-N-G-O when it is called.

Embedded multi-media is used to start teaching a category type. They used a video form to show multiple examples. The students could see and hear the word which they were able to understand it. This is good for the students to be able to practice different ways of learning it.

In the study that they did, they found out that the Head Start students who were a low group had more success using categories than the control group. The categories seemed to cause more achievement for the students that used them.


Oral language comprehension or vocab is the foundation of the early stages of literacy development. Teachers need to have many more planned lessons over vocab instruction. They should teach it instead of just give them a word and move right on to the next. Students need to practice and review vocab many times. Not just one time.


Parents can help encourage their children to increase their vocab development. One thing they can do is to try to answer all of the questions their children may ask them. Most children ask lots of questions so this can be fairly easy to do. It is good to make conversation back and forth for more exposure to words. Children should try to use unusual words in the conversations with their parents.
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Principals should have more planned observations of teachers and their vocab development in the classroom. Children sometimes don't have the knowledge of words for their grade level. This is because they do not have the background knowledge or the language that these words mean. They have not experienced using or hearing these words.

Policy Makers

Policy makers need to know that we need to have more intentional activities over reading. Reading is the most powerful way of learning and improving vocab skills. Students see and read many different words. Policy makers need to put planned vocab instruction in their research.