PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Vocabulary Matters

Large pile of various words placed over white background.

Dear Families,

I wanted to let you know how you might build your child’s vocabulary.  Vocabulary is so important because it unlocks your child’s ability to think deeply, read with understanding and express precisely his or her ideas.

Immerse your child in rich vocabulary.  Use sophisticated vocabulary in conversation.  Substitute synonyms often. Lastly, you can purchase a children’s thesaurus and change words in their writing for more descriptive or nuanced vocabulary.  I prefer the ones that have realistic photos in them and larger print.

To aid you in this, I have created lists for targeted vocabulary practice on  Here you will find lists of words that you can practice at home.  I will send home a hard copy that will give you the specific url to join.  I can monitor the learning progress and will add lists as the year goes on.  I provided a “due date.”  Feel free to ignore it.  It is a default setting and I must put in a “due date.”  You will receive these sometime this week.


Develop a richer understanding of the meaning of words.  We will begin to work on creating semantic gradients in school during our literacy center time.

Here is an example of semantic gradients. 

Practice vocabulary with your child as he or she reads at night.  After reading, ask you child to choose an adjective (character trait) to describe a character in the Realistic Fiction book he or she is reading.  Have them point to the exact evidence in the book.


  • Thank you so much for helping your children date, and label the homework.  It made it so much easier for me to grade!
  • I would like to mention that I will give your children spelling quizzes every two weeks.  The first week, we go over the words, the second week we practice and extend learning.
  • This week in reading we are still focussing on making inferences and justifying our ideas with concrete evidence and reasoning. Our next reading unit will be Nonfiction which will start in November.
  • In  Social Studies we continue to learn about NY State.  The theme of Native Americans will begin to be combined with the geography of NY State.  Last week we learned that many NY State places are named after Native Americans and they carry specific meaning.
  • I teach a short unit on Global Citizenship.  (4 lessons to be exact)  This coincides with Trick or Treat For UNICEF.  The students will be given boxes.  It is totally up to you, how much you wish your child to participate and to what extent you feel comfortable with this project. Also, if they do participate they don’t have to use it on Halloween.  I know that some families do not celebrate it and hope that I won’t offend anybody.  It just seems that as the world gets bigger we need to teach our children that we global responsibilities and not only local or national ones.
  • Next week I will blog about differentiation and the value of small group targeted instruction.  Check it out Monday morning.
  • Scholastic Orders are due October 30th.  Class code is MJDFM.
  • To reiterate expectations for homework-one ReadWorks assignment is due every Friday, even if several have been assigned. As stated before, they choose one. (This may only be true for some groups.)  2 Writing NB entries are assigned every week.  They are due on Wednesday.  One reading response on a Realistic Fiction book is due every Wednesday.  To be completed in the reading section of the Humanities NB.  Please date every entry and make note that it was “HW.”