Spontaneous Vocabulary Practice

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I'm not sure how it began. Suddenly we were spouting every word we could think of that started with the letter b: brains, bed, brix, blunderbuss, backwards, ballerina, bellicose, buffoon, bin, bobbin, birch...

Yes, we're nerds. But we were having a blast.

...bark, bit, byte, ballroom, burst, boink, bellboy, bell bottoms, bath, blustery, blue...

I know some people play games in groups where they go around a circle with a poem that terminates with an opportunity to enter an adjective. If you can't come up with one in rhythm, you're out: "Schrodinger's cat is a __________ cat." Or, have you ever played Scattergories? Brilliant!

...besmirch, beeswax, bigot, birth, biplane, bisect, beige, banister, benign, buck, black...

Games like these are not just fun. They challenge your recall and creativity. They allow us to bounce off the ideas of another. They also introduce us to words we didn't know before.

...bask, band-aid, brand, burnt, belie, busk, bob, bow, bough, beau, built...

As we played, I realized there was something that bound us together: It was our common love of books.

...bouquet, bank, banquet, bellows, best, bland, blister, bedfellows, botox, bug, bishop...

Reading good literature, I've been told, is one of the most effective ways of improving your vocabulary. And reading is fun, so it's a double win. One of the things I dislike about "educational games" is that the game itself rarely is actually, truly enjoyable. It's just slightly less wearisome than flat out repetition and memorization, so we put up with it. The simple ability to enjoy reveling in creative use of a skill? That I like much better.

...borked, beautiful, bigamy, blasphemy, beneath, betwixt, bend, billfold, bygone, botany, Bishkek...

This morning I watched Why Math Instruction Is Unnecessary (one of today's Other Posts of Note). The conclusion John Bennett reaches sounds familiar: Let's focus students' advanced study on games which develop their mental abilities.

What games and activities do your children spontaneously engage in that reinforce what they have learned?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

P.S. While writing this up, I was reminded of my post on poetry. Give it a read if you're feeling brave.

...bear, blunt, bake, bodacious, bulwark, boulder, body, bovine, billiard, burka, bunt...

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Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad
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