Fast Finds: A Vocabulary Activity


My family and I love the line of Cranium games.  (Talk about honoring multiple intelligences!  I think these game-makers have attended a conference or two.  Or maybe they're just smart people who know how differently people think.)

In one of their games, Cranium Cadoo, there is a category called "Fast Finds."  Each Fast Find card lists two things you have to find before the timer runs out.  For example, one card might say:

• something cold
• something fuzzy

The kids love this category because they can get up and race around the house and the whole time they're racing around, the teacher-me thinks, "This is great vocabulary practice!"

Playing off this idea, I started doing something similar during reading workshop and small group reading instruction.  I don't do this every day, but when I want to focus on vocabulary or new concepts, I work it into my plans.  You can either guide this work with a small group of students, or model it during the workshop, or have children work in pairs... all work well... and it works with both fiction and nonfiction texts.  

Small Group Examples:


In this "Day 2" guided reading session, I put four vocabulary words on each child's book prior to the rereading of the text.  I read the words to the group and ask them to go back into the text, finding a part that matches or explains each word.  (Not only is this a great exercise in comprehension and reasoning, but my ELLs and children with language delays really benefit from thinking through the word meanings.  If needed, you can scaffold the work with a simple picture on the sticky note.) Usually, I have the children work on their own first and then share with a partner or the whole group, depending on the time. Watching them reason as they make their choices is interesting to me and it's a great informal assessment.  Often, there are no "right" or "wrong" answers... as long as they can justify why they chose a certain part for a certain word and it makes sense, I consider the activity a success.  





I also use this Fast Find activity to see if children understand text features and to facilitate the sharing of opinions.  Example:


In this example, you can see the children have to find two text features (a caption and a key word), but they also have to choose something "cute" and something "scary."  These are important vocabulary concepts for my ELLs, but they also give each child an opportunity to think critically, make choices, and explain their opinions to others.




And I love using Fast Finds when we're reading fiction, too.  I can use words that help us practice story elements (a character, the setting, the problem...) or I can practice "feelings," as shown in this example from Elephant and Piggie's I Broke My Trunk!


In this text, you can see the students' choices really reflect their ability to comprehend the events of the story and infer meaning.  The author never uses these feeling words in the text, so the children must connect the dots of the plot, think about their prior schema, and study the facial expressions to reason through how the characters are feeling.  Again, I ask the children to support their choices by explaining their thinking, which is also a great way to develop their expressive vocabularies.  




I share this idea and others in my vocabulary pack, Very, Very Vocabulary. If you're looking for new ideas to help increase your students' vocabulary, take a look.  It's best suited for kids in grades 1-3.  



Happy teaching!  :)


37 comments:

  1. What an incredible idea! I love the Fast Finds concept, especially for my small groups. It's going on my strategy list. :) Thank you!
    sara.walden.488@gmail.com

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  2. I teach small group grades k-3. I especially like using the sticky notes for the vocabulary finds. My students struggle with vocabulary all the time and this would be engaging for them. Thanks for sharing!
    podamurdock@gmail.com

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  3. Great ideas! My students love sticky notes so this will be a big hit.

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  4. I love this for my first graders. We have been working on "prove" your thinking/find the "evidence" and this strategy supports it nicely! Thank you! asilmd@hotmail.com

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  5. I can't wait to try this out! I need to kick it up with my higher group but I am intrigued by how you use this with your ELL students. thank you!
    Youngmel67@gmail.com

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  6. I really enjoyed your post. I would like to use more of the strategies in the post. My email is readersinaction@gmail.com

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  7. I'm not sure if my previous comment posted, so sorry if this is a repeat. I enjoy your blog and think this a a great idea. I teach kindergarten and can easily do this with a read aloud. There are a few who could try it on their own too. Thanks for the suggestion. jmtrumbull@comcast.net

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  8. What a wonderful idea!
    imgoingfirst@gmail.com

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  9. Great fun for small groups!! :-)Robin

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  10. This would be excellent for my kinder babies!
    Ftgreen4@gmail.com

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  11. What a fantastic idea! This will be so easy to do and will work with all levels in my classroom. reaton98@gmail.com

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  12. Hey! I forgot to add my e-mail. This is a wonderful strategy to teach vocabulary whole group or during guided reading. Thank you for sharing. narcy100@gmail.com

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  13. What an awesome idea for improving vocabulary! Thankyou. I always learn so much from your posts. vwalker@wycliffe.nsw.edu.au

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  14. Great post! Thanks so much! yvonneeyrg@gmail.com

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  15. That was great, thanks heaps. I followed a pinterest link to your blog. I can't wait to have a go with my 2/3 class. jaguartee@hotmail.com

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  16. Thanks for sharing this great idea! mwiatrek@bentonvillek12.org

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  17. Thank you for sharing your comments. I just emailed the vocabulary pack to everyone who responded so far. Please let me know if you didn't get it so we can double-check your email address. Have a great week!! :)

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  18. Thanks so much for sharing! jenny.chubak@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Jenny :)

      I just added you to the group email. Please let me know if you don't receive it. Have a wonderful day!

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  19. I'm always looking for ways to expand my students vocabulary past "good, bad, happy, or sad." Thanks so much.

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    1. Thank you, Patti. If you'd like me to send you the pack, just leave your email address in the comments. Have a great night! :)

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    2. Thanks! my address is pjdaniel@me.com

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    3. Hi Andrea. I never received this pack. Could you try resending it to pjdaniel@me.com?
      Thanks!

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  20. You are always so creative! Cara

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  21. oh yeah, caragingras@gmail.com :)

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  22. Great job! I love this idea! Thank you for sharing. hui.uiuc@gmail.com

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  23. Love Elephant and Piggie books! Great idea to teach kids to read between the lines. Thanks for sharing!
    Meenal
    mparikhtwo@gmail.com

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  24. I love this idea and can't wait to learn about your others! Thanks! kceverding@gmail.com

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  25. I'd love to try these for my ELL students who lack vocabulary so can't comprehend stories well. Thanks. Tchrkim74@yahoo.com

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  26. I love this idea! Using it today!!!! Thank you!
    mollyglanville@gmail.com

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  27. I think I've emailed it to everyone who commented. Please let me know if you didn't get it. Have a good one!! :)

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  28. Hi Andrea, Is it too late to get one? I have recently decided to increase vocab instruction in my 1st grade class. I hope I can receive it to help me out! :)

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  29. Sorry, here is my email: nc3Lynn@yahoo.com

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  30. What an amazing post! I LOVE everything about your vocabulary activities...especially that you use them for narrative AND informational! Livetoteachu@yahoo

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  31. Hi Andrea! Thanks for the great post!
    I am wondering about the names of the fonts you've used on your images? I love them!
    If you have time, I'd so appreciate you sharing them with me.
    Thanks!!
    Elyse :)
    Proud to be Primary

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    1. Hi Elyse,

      The photos in this post are using a font called "This Font Is Bold" (that's the actual name of it) and then other fonts are by Jen Jones at Hello Literacy. I also use a few of Kimberly Geswein fonts. You can find these on Teachers Pay Teachers. :)

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