Semantic gradients is a group of related words placed on a continuum that allows students to make connections between known words and new vocabulary. Reading Rockets has fun and engaging activities that help students deepen their understanding of related words. Research states that vocabulary instruction is an essential skill that students need to improve reading performance. In fact, there is strong evidence to support providing vocabulary instruction not only to improve students’ reading comprehension and writing quality, but also their listening vocabulary and their speaking vocabulary (Joshi, 2006).
A fun and engaging activity called Vocabulary Paint Chips can be used to expand your student’s vocabulary of known words. The strategy involves using large paint strips or chips from the hardware store (which are FREE). Teachers write a vocabulary word on one color of the strip, then write different “versions” of the word on the other colors, and finally, put synonyms on one of the colors. For example, one paint chip may include crawl, stroll, walk, dart, run and sprint. Remember to reward your student’s effort for using new words! Be specific with your praise (“I love the way you used our new word “stroll” in your story today.”) Another possibility is to use a token economy system for each time a student uses one of the paint chip words in their writing, they can add a sticker to a chart. When the sticker chart is filled then the student can exchange it for a bigger reward!
Joshi, R. M. (2006). Vocabulary: A critical component of comprehension. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 21(3), 209-219.