Thursday, August 18, 2011

Learning Vocab

I have a new favorite vocab resource. Webber(r) Core Curriculum Vocabulary Cards are a new item from Super Duper, and two review sets arrived at my house last week.

The cards come in a tin, which makes for easy storing. Each set contains 200 cards the size of playing cards, and the cards cover 100 high frequency vocabulary words. There are 25 vocabulary words each in categories of science, language arts, social studies, and math. Each vocabulary word is portrayed two ways and accompanied by an illustration. One card displays a definition; the matching card displays the vocabulary word.

Each set comes with a booklet that lists the vocabulary words within each set and describes games and uses.

I ignored the game suggestions and set about using the cards to determine which of the high frequency vocabulary words my child knows and what she does not know.

When you are the parent (or a professional, for that matter) of a child with a communication disorder, you often don't know what your children know. And you don't know how to evaluate them. A lot of these kids don't test well. Tests don't provide an accurate picture of what they know. Additionally some children have a vocabulary that is bigger than their comprehension. My child has a very rich vocabulary and sometimes I don't realize that she is using an appropriate word or term without really understanding the meaning or concept behind it. Her vocabulary fools me and others around her.

The blue tin holds Level One for grades 1-3 and ages 5-9, and we began there. The yellow set is for developmentally older children.

I did something that, in retrospect, I should not have done. I opened the science set with my girl and read a definition card to her. I set her up to 'perform' for me, something that can cause her anxiety to soar. She handled it like a pro, though, giving me a term that summarized the definition I read to her. When she seemed to struggle to find a word, I quickly handed her both the word card and definition card. We made it through all 25 words (50 cards) and stopped.

I realized that she does not know a few key terms. Or maybe she knows the terms but doesn't know she knows them and isn't able to convert what she knows into something she can tell me. She knew gravity, but was not able to identify liquid and solid. No problem. Now that I have this new information, we will be able to talk about, in context, liquids, solids, and gasses in the kitchen as we cook together. We are going to make throat lozenges today with honey and slippery elm powder. Guess what we will talk about as we make them??? ;)

The next day, I let her choose the set she wanted to work with. Would she like to go through the science set again or use one of the other sets? And I made her the teacher. She chose English Language Arts. And she quizzed me with the definition cards and waited for me to provide her the vocabulary term. The set up reduces the potential for her anxiety.


We are able to identify terms she knows solidly, terms she sort of knows, and terms she does not understand, and I can set about focusing on all of them in our day to day interactions and in context.

I don't want her to memorize terms outside of context in order to be able to fill in the blanks on a worksheet.

I want her to experience the terms in context so that she is able to make self-to-text comparisons in the future.

We'll get to the games from the booklet soon enough. For now, though, these vocab cards are a non-threatening (to her) tool (a worksheet, on the other hand, is intimidating to her) to use to see what she knows, to give her new insight about what she already knows, to help her put in to words a definition for what she already knows, and to begin to explore new concepts. They help me identify which is which.

With unique learning needs in mind, these card sets are not simply vocabulary words. The value of these card sets as a speech and communication tool is high for me. They provide opportunities for relationship work as well. Turn taking. Sharing attention. Shifting attention. And if my girl is having a rough day, I can choose a small number of cards to work on.

I like the visual component of the illustrations (most of them, anyway). I like the tactile component that my daughter gets when handling the cards. I like the kinesthetic piece - movement is always a positive in learning. There are opportunities to be creative as families and classrooms make up new ways to use the cards.

I have two concerns about them, and they're both common issues in card sets. One, I'd like the sets to be bigger, with more than 25 words to a set. Two, the illustrations, meant to be picture cues, are sometimes too specific or too general, which is an issue that is hard to avoid. Here's an example: I don't like the illustration of a washing machine (maybe it is a clothes dryer?) to accompany, "This is anything that has moving parts and does a job." I'd rather see a variety of contraptions pictured here to illustrate ideas of different machines.

The sets are priced at $39.99 each and are available from

Super Duper sent me two sets of Core Curriculum Vocabulary Cards to use at home in order to review here. I was not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.


Pranav Soft Zone said...

You have designed a very good blog. Makes me stick around it. Your idea and content is good. The collection, arrangement and font everything is fine. The site is lively and also lovely. Good work keep posting. May god bless you in all your future projects.

and you are invited to my blog.

Rose-Anne Turunen said...

Hi Penny,

I'm launching a new online resource, blog, and magazine for families of children with special needs and physical challenges. I would love for you to consider either syndicating your blog on our site or submitting articles for our magazine. If you would like to know more, I would be happy to send you an email with more information. In Joy! Rose-Anne

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