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Sunday, November 1, 2015

What’s in a Word? Vocabulary Building through Storybook Reading

Did you know that by mid-elementary grades reading is the number one source for students to encounter and learn new vocabulary?  And that vocabulary knowledge is the number one key to reading comprehension?
And, if you happen to be supporting AAC users, as I am, learning new vocabulary and knowing where to find it in the AAC system, is key to participating in class and in conversations.

If you follow me, or know my work, you know I teach chiefly through storybooks.  It’s how I did therapy decades ago, and how I still encourage teachers to teach and SLPs to intervene.

So, for the spooky season, here are some ideas for teaching vocabulary with the book “I Need My Monster” by Amanda Noll.
(This post contains an affiliate link)

When I do shared reading, my first lessons are always about vocabulary - describing, defining, comparing, contrasting.  This book is great for that.

A little boy can’t sleep because the monster under his bed has gone fishing.  He doesn’t know what to do to fall asleep.  Enter substitute monsters.  
But there are problems.  
The first substitute is inexperienced, and not scary at all.  
The second monster has the requisite claws, but they are well-manicured.  Not scary.  
The third monster has scary claws, but………Oh, no!  There’s a bow on the end of her tail.  She’s a girl?  That won’t do.  
The fourth monster has good claws, but his long silly tongue makes the boy laugh.
Finally, the regular monster returns, and the boy can fall asleep.

After reviewing all the great descriptive vocabulary used in the book (ragged, scramble, creaky, shaggy, sleek, impressive, and more!),  I created a chart to fill in, in order to talk about each of the monsters and compare them based on the boy’s criteria.

I’ve filled it in with words:

or with symbols:

You could also add more specific describing vocabulary to the chart's spaces. I do this up on a board or chart - the spaces on the page are just too small.
It’s a fun book, guaranteed to make kids laugh.  Try having them draw their version of the perfect monster, then have them describe it.

Keep on talking!

Thanks to Tangstar Science on TPT for the Interactive Notebook accordion arrow template 


  1. Love these engaging ideas and the subject matter is what the kiddos are intrigued by. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Such a great vocabulary idea! I love that book and I love seeing that you are using literature with your speech students!

    1. Almost all of my intervention has always been literature-based. We've got to get these kids exposed to books!

  3. I'm not familiar with this book; I'll have to check it out! I love using picture books to teach everything else in our 4th grade curriculum!

    1. I think it's a great way to increase kids language concepts - and expose them to books they might not otherwise see.

  4. I love the graphic organizers you've created. Thanks for sharing a concrete way to expand vocabulary!


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