The best technique I have ever seen for teaching vocabulary to young children is to use music. Kids can memorize song lyrics because they are able to tie the words to a tune. Like archteacher says, you can also add demonstration to have kids act out the words as they sing. Some urban charter school teachers are making use of hip hop types of songs for older elementary school students because of the ease it offers as a mnemonic device.
I like kinesthetic techniques that tie physical movements to vocabulary words. For example, when teaching the difference between "rise" and "raise", I have kids say the words while standing up or raising their hands, respectively.
One big thing (Okay, two big things) about vocabulary is 1)give students the benefit of the doubt and don’t assume they’re too young to understand certain concepts or words. Look at the first graders mentioned earlier who now know what audacious means. 2)Teach them meaningful words in meaningful ways, and make sure you have a purpose for theaching them the word. In my classroom our vocabulary words come from the reading material or literary terms we study. I also use vocabulary to extend my students learning in that I might say, "You need a writing implement." Invariably, someone will always ask, and then the entire class will learn what implement means.
Educational publisher Heinemann produces a book called Learning Words Inside and Out, Grades 1-6; Vocabulary Instruction That Boosts Achievement in All Subject Areas, by Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher (2009). The Heinemann website includes a sample chapter.
I teach vocabulary as it comes up in natural context. For example, while teaching a mathematics lesson, I note geometric terms as we fold paper. In literature, we'll discuss words as they arise in text. Our current read-aloud uses the word "audacious" repeatedly. Now my first grader can use the word in other contexts.
I think that Dr. Seuss books are great for children that age. During that time children develop critically reading skills that are the foundation for the rest of their reading careers, and it is important to choose books that they can read to you as well. Dr. Seuss books are easy to read, fun, colorful, and exciting.
I have to agree that using a well versed vocabulary with students of all ages helps them to develop a better vocabulary. I usually ask my students if they understand a word if I use a word that might be uncommon in their household or daily environment. One can not assume a child knows a word. I also teach students how to use the other words that have been spoken as clues to find the meaning of the word I say that they do not know.
Children are like sponges. If they can imitate a parent or peer using a curse word at an early age and then use it in correct context, they certainly have the ability to learn higher vocabulary.
For a vocabulary word to be ingrained into a child's mind it must be used in different ways. People learn in different ways. Some people learn best through hearing, some through sight, some with music, and some by movement or touch. The best way to teach a vocabulary word to a child is to incorporate all of the above mentioned methods.
I use a word wheel to teach vocabulary words no matter what the student's age group. We start by drawing a big circle with a small circle inside. In the center circle one writes the vocabulary word. Next the teacher asks the children to state what they believe the word means. If the word is one that can be acted out have them act out the word such as the word "run." Older children benefit from looking up the word in the dictionary. Draw lines from the inside circle to the outside circle making five pie slice sections. In section 1 write the definition of the word from the dictionary. In section 2 give the students a sentence that uses the word. Section 3 have the students write their own definition by discussing the word and writing it together. Section 4 draw a picture of the word (even abstracts such as air love and kindness can be drawn and stick figures are allowed). Section 5 the students are to write their own sentence using the word.
This next part is very important. Do not abandon the word. Use it often and frequently with the child/children. Use it in sentences, play games with it, have students earn a coin or a prize for using it. I know this system works because I have taught 5 year old and older students. Do not be afraid to teach a higher order word. My five year old students could tell you what it means to loquacious, excessively talkative.
Teaching Vocabulary to Improve Reading Comprehension by Willaim Nagey
The Vocabulary Book: Learning & Instruction (Language and Literacy Series) by Michael Graves
Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction (Paperback) by Isabel Beck, Phd.
add a picture to the word and when you show the picture make sure they know what it is