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How to Incorporate Vocabulary Instruction into Daily Reading Time

During the month of February, we read about President Lincoln. It was his birthday month and Presidents Day month, so I pulled out our Who Was Abraham Lincoln? book by Janet B. Pascal and marveled at all that we learned about this amazing president.

We learned that he was a dedicated learner who only had one year of schooling, yet thrived as a student. All that he did was self-taught. I think that's the part that amazed me most about Abe Lincoln. The other piece of his story made him more relatable. He wasn't superhuman, but like everyone else, he struggled with something. He struggled was bouts of depression. Depression is a big word for a little 2nd grader whose only struggle at the moment is with double-digit addition and subtraction! How was I going to teach this big concept? Thankfully, the author defined it for me using excellent antonym, synonym, and gist context clues.

The heading Lincoln's Depression is our main idea. We know this little paragraph is going to be about depression, so read the paragraph until you can get a general idea of what the whole thing is about. Brielle summed it up pretty well with a super-simple statement, "Sometimes Lincoln was sad."

What are some phrases that show us he was sad?

  • "He carried with him a terrible sadness."

  • "..he might be found sitting alone, hunched up with his arms around his knees. No one dared to go near him during these times."

  • "Lincoln suffered..."

Those were phrases she was able to understand and see.

What are some words that show us he was sad sometimes?

  • terrible

  • sadness

  • alone

  • suffered

  • attacks

What are some words or phrases that show us the opposite of the sadness he felt?

  • enjoyed life

  • laughed

  • jokes

We also talked about the picture. Does this posture show a happy or sad man? From there we were able to come up with a definition, synonyms, and antonyms for the word depression.

Then we used the dictionary and thesaurus to check our work. Does the definition and synonyms or antonyms back up our guess? If so, we add the word to our word collector book and attempt to use it in future writing.


I hope this very brief rundown of what we do to build understanding of a word helps you during your own reading time. We will always encounter new words, don't be afraid to have your own word collector book as you add to your daily vocabulary! This shows that adults are also in a state of learning - encouraging your learners to shift their thinking of this kind of activity from a temporary pursuit to a lifelong skill.

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