Wednesday words: Reception vocabulary teaching activity

It's Wednesday so we're celebrating the wonder of words. Each week, we'll bring you fun, flexible and creative vocabulary teaching activities that you can be easily implemented in the classroom. The activities are all taken from Rising Stars Vocabulary, a new programme that will build essential vocabulary skills for Reception to Year 6. Each teaching unit is based around a collection of linked focus words which your pupils will explore through meaningful activities.

Wednesday Words: What are the characters like?

This week's activity is for Reception and helps children to develop an understanding of words to describe different characters.

These activities are taken from a wider teaching unit. You can download the whole unit here

The focus words for this unit are:

foolish, cruel, selfish, brave, wicked, lazy, nasty, kind
Meet the words
The children meet the words in context within the well-known fairy tale Hansel and Gretel

  • Read the story of Hansel and Gretel to the children and check that they understand who the main characters are. 

  • Ask them what the family relationships are. Can they explain who the stepmother is? l

  • After reading the story, say all the focus words and ask the children which of the characters each one is used to describe. Read the story more than once if required.

foolish – woodcutter
cruel –stepmother
selfish – stepmother
brave – Hansel
brave – Gretel
wicked – witch
lazy – witch
nasty – stepmother
kind – father (woodcutter) 

  • Some characters have more than one descriptive word to describe them. Who are they?

Explore meaning

Now you will look at the words in more detail and examine how they are used to describe the characters in the story. 

  • Ask the children, in pairs, what the word foolish tells us about the woodcutter. What kind of character is he? 

  • Ask random pairs to give their answer to ensure a variety of children are answering the questions. This will also enable you to observe and assess more effectively. l

  • Ask the children if there is another word to describe the woodcutter. They should notice that the other word is kind. Discuss whether this means the same as foolish. Ask what else it tells us about the woodcutter. How might the two characteristics be linked? 

  • Repeat for the other words during another short session.

This activity has been taken from Rising Stars Vocabulary Reception and Key Stage One and is part of a wider teaching unit. You can download the whole unit here.

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english, English and Literacy, literacy, primary, reception, teaching, vocabulary

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