Build Vocabulary and Writing Skills

Using theme units in your classroom easily allows you to target vocabulary. Thematic units help immerse our students in the language of the unit topic or concept. Take the vocabulary a step further by using the vocabulary activities to build writing skills. 

Using theme units in your classroom easily allows you to target vocabulary. Thematic units help immerse our students in the language of the unit topic or concept. Take the vocabulary a step further by using the vocabulary activities to build writing skills.



We use these picture cards to build vocabulary and teach students to be flexible in their thinking about the words. We use at least 5 picture cards for each word and try to illustrate different possibilities for each word by including non-identical pictures in both photographs and clip art. 

We take these pictures (cards from the dental unit pictured above) along with the vocabulary word wall cards to build vocabulary and language skills. For example, we use these materials to work on feature, function and class with the vocabulary. 

Ways to use the cards:

  • Hide the cards around and have students match and sort the non-identical cards.
  • Have students draw a random card and describe the features or function of the item to see if the rest of the students can guess what the picture is. 
  • Have a student state the class or function of the picture and the rest of the students have to ask yes/no questions about it. 
  • Students have to find a picture when given a descriptive clue. For example during the school unit I might say, "Can you find something that I can store my book in and has 4 legs?" The student would then find the picture of the desk. 
  • Play memory with the cards.
There are TONS of ways to use the picture cards and word wall cards to build language. These cards are included in all of our theme units and our life skills units 



We also use these picture cards and word wall cards in writing groups. The group is small, generally 3 to 5 students at a time. We take turns picking a picture or word and then dictating a sentence to the rest of the group. The goals of this group are:

  1. Helping students improve at generating sentences. The student has to recall what we have learned about the vocabulary word and use that knowledge to come up with a sentence.
  2. Improving attention to peers to know what sentence the group will be writing.
  3. Work as a team to recall and write the sentence. This includes spelling and generalizing sentence & writing concepts. 
It isn't necessary for students to all be at the same level for this activity. Check out the blog post link below for running a mixed level grouping:




Another way we work on vocabulary and writing is through write the room activities. These writing activities put research into practice for you! Write the room activities are included in each of our units: theme units, life skills units and our science units

Read more about using write the room activities in your classroom by clicking the blog post titles below:






Using theme units in your classroom easily allows you to target vocabulary. Thematic units help immerse our students in the language of the unit topic or concept. Take the vocabulary a step further by using the vocabulary activities to build writing skills.






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