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Word Meaning Warm-Ups

Word Meaning Warm-Ups

We’re finally here! After two years of developing free word fluency and word building warm-ups and working with over 100 classrooms, we’re ready to announce the free word meaning warm-ups!

These warm-ups are going to impact vocabulary development in grades 2-6 in just 2-6 minutes of class each day. They are aimed at helping students learn the word-solving skills needed for independent reading comprehension.

In this post, I’ll share:

  • The New Word Meaning Warm-Ups
  • Who are the Word Meaning Warm-Ups For?
  • Why Your Students Need Vocabulary Development
  • The Four Areas for Teaching Word Meaning

New Word Meaning Warm-Ups

In our recent teacher survey, teachers overwhelmingly cited “Context Clues” as the number 1 need for their students. That said, we’ve geared the new word meaning warm-ups around using context clues to understand unknown words.

The Word Meaning warm-ups are a part of our free word study, and they will address the vocabulary development strand of reading. 

This includes:
  • Using context clues for unknown words.
  • Interpreting figurative language.
  • Understanding multiple-meaning words.
  • Word parts.
  • Greek and Latin roots.

However, these first two weeks of free warm-ups will focus on context clues and vocabulary development!

Who Are the Word Meaning Warm-Ups For?

Great teachers, of course. But seriously, they’re for on-level readers in grades 3-5 and reteaching in grades 5-6.

The words align with nationally-recognized words lists for grades 3-5 (e.g. Dale-Chall, Spache) and state tests such as STAAR.

Why Your Students Need Vocabulary Development

Student background knowledge is the number one indicator of academic performance. In other words, the amount of concepts and vocabulary they understand relates to their ability to learn more.

It’s like a big web.

Picture a small spider web – it only grabs a small amount. The bigger the web, the more that sticks to it.

The bigger the vocabulary web, the faster a student can learn. Here are some stats to back me up.

Vocabulary Percentile

Academic Percentile








Source: Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement, Research on What Works in Schools

The data shows the simple fact:

Four Areas for Teaching Word Meaning

We know a few things from research and experience about developing word meaning skills:

  • It takes multiple exposure to increase mastery.
  • Students develop vocabulary better with direct instruction.
  • Students develop vocabulary better with words in sentences.
  • Graphics, pictures, and visuals increase retention of word meanings.

Our new word meaning warm-ups are built around those fundamental concepts, and they’re focused on teaching the four areas of word meaning.

  1. Words in Context
  2. Morphology
  3. Background Knowledge
  4. Syntax

What Are Words in Context?

What is Morphology?

Why Background Knowledge?

Why Syntax?

What Questions Do You Have About the Word Meaning Warm-Ups?

Join in the discussion. Leave us a comment below about the word meaning warm-ups.

What do you want to know about them? How do you intend to use the warm-ups?





11 responses to “Word Meaning Warm-Ups”

  1. Nikki

    Love Captain Obvious! LOL

    1. Admin

      Thanks. Let us know what your students think about the new meme gifs at the end of the new warm-ups!!!

  2. Monica

    Can these be use with 2nd graders?

    1. Matt

      The free Word Meaning warm-ups will work for 2nd semester on-level 2nd-graders. The words come from 4th- and 5th-grade vocabulary lists.

      1. Monica

        What kind of words are they?

        1. Matt

          The words are all tier 2 words, and they show up in multiple academic subjects, in all sorts of texts, and even in standardized tests.

  3. Katie

    How much writing is involved with these warm-ups? Do I need to print anything?

    1. Admin

      Hi Kaite and thanks for asking. In the word meaning warm-ups, students will engage in 2-3 minutes of writing to learn as well as morphological analysis – breaking down the word parts. There’s no need to print anything for the warm-ups. You can just turn them on and begin walking around to help individual students as needed.

  4. […] activities that can be used as a warm-up (like these word meaning warm-ups), a cool-down game, a review activity before a test, a slideshow for a flipped classroom, and many […]

  5. […] in expanding your students’ vocabulary, then you’re going to love the fact that our word meaning warm-ups are […]

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