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Copyright 2002
The Teaching Home
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The Teaching Home
Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement

Volume II, Number 21                                 Nov. 27, 2002

You are welcome to forward this newsletter in its entirety.

Table of Contents

  • 15-Part Series on Basic Skills: #3 Vocabulary
  •      Vocabulary-Building Activities
  •      Bible Vocabulary
  •      Vocabulary Links & Resources
  • Recommended Home-School Products & Services
  •      Christmas Carols Sweet and Clear CD
  •      Punched Paper Needlework Kits
  •      Children's Books
  •      Don Aslett's Clean Report
  • Sunny Side Up (Humorous Anecdote)


         In this issue we address Skill #3: Vocabulary in our 15-part Basic Skills series.

         It is important for our children (and ourselves) to build a good collection of the most essential communication tools -- words.

         We have provided many vocabulary-building activities in the article below. Your enthusiasm in studying words together as a family can help your children love and enjoy learning words, their meanings, and appropriate usage.

         Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart      Be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.      Psalm 19:14

         Would you please pray with us that we can raise the funds necessary to resume publication of The Teaching Home magazine? Buying back issues (see below) is a great help. Thank you!

         May the Lord richly bless your family for His glory.

    Sue Welch
    for Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian Welch
    The Teaching Home is a home-school family business produced in our home since 1980.

    Christmas Carols Sweet and Clear CD
         By Joy Marie Dunlap and family. Gentle, harmonious, relaxing music, classical in style. No rock beat! Order soon for Christmas listening. Also Joy Marie‚Äôs Family Discipleship Magazine, curriculum, and a magazine each for boys and for girls.
    To hear our CD, go to

    15-Part Series on Basic Skills
    by Cindy Short and Sue Welch, sisters and editors

         You can evaluate your children's skill levels and help them improve in those areas where you see a need by using these practical ideas for learning activities.
         These 15 skill areas are similar to those that are included on standardized tests. Topics will include:

         1. Listening - Vol. II, No. 18
         2. Word Analysis - This Issue
         3. Vocabulary
         4. Reading Comprehension: Facts
         5. Reading Comprehension: Inferences
         6. Reading Comprehension: Generalizations
         7. Spelling
         8. Capitalization
         9. Punctuation
         10. Usage
         11. Visual Materials
         12. Reference Materials
         13. Math: Concepts
         14. Math: Computation
         15. Math: Problem Solving

    Basic Skill #3: Vocabulary

         First, we should note that an expanded vocabulary is not for the purpose of impressing people, but to enhance communication.

         A clear understanding of a large number of words is a valuable asset to any person. It allows him to understand what others say or write and also to effectively express his own thoughts and feelings.

         Well-chosen words give to both speech and writing the increasingly rare qualities of accuracy, clarity, sensitivity, impact, and even beauty.

         A good command of vocabulary contributes to success in life-long learning, in interpersonal communication within family or other relationships, and on the job.

    Vocabulary-Building Activities for All Ages

    1. Teach and Learn Words in Context of Life.

    __ Extensive reading (or listening to audio tapes) of good books will naturally add many words to your vocabulary. Older books have larger vocabularies than more recently published books.

    __ During oral reading (yours or your child's), daily conversations, or family Bible reading, stop to ask and answer questions about the meanings of words that you think your child might not know. Also explain the meanings of any new or important words that you wish to emphasize.

    __ For young children, you can insert a known synonym after an unknown word as you read or speak. This will help them understand you and learn vocabulary without stopping your reading or speaking.

    __ Keep a dictionary nearby so that you can easily look up a word without a long interruption.

    __ If you know of unfamiliar words or words you want to emphasize that will be encountered in your reading, define them before you start and have your children watch for them.

    __ Teach words in context, not in isolation. Always use the word in a sentence after reading or explaining its definition.

    __ Encourage your children to ask questions when they hear or read words that are new or confusing.

    __ An electronic or software dictionary may encourage your child to look up words. Some have a feature that pronounces the word.

    __ Practice using new words in sentences and daily conversation. Share the new words with Dad when he comes home or at the dinner table.

    __ Use billboards, signs, ads, and newspapers to introduce new and different uses of words.

    (Vocabulary is continued below.)

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         "The Teaching Home has been a part of my continuing education since I started home schooling. I have kept every issue and often go to back issues to find creative, helpful hints or inspiration." Meredith C., Florida

    Vocabulary-Building Activities for All Ages

    2. Study Related Words Together.

    __ Learn both synonyms and antonyms of a word to more clearly define it and help your child remember and use it.

    __ When you are studying a word that has a homonym, explain it and learn its spelling so that confusion will not arise later.

    __ Explore the depth and shades of meanings or connotations by looking the word up in a thesaurus. Discuss differences in meanings of words that are similar, but not identical, such as giant and huge.

    3. Learn the Building Blocks of Words.

    __ Develop word building skills by learning the origins of words, roots, and compound words.

    __ Learn common prefixes and suffixes.

         ab- (away from)
         be- (on all sides, overly)
         de- (reversal, undoing, downward)
         dis-, dif- (not, reversal)
         ex- (out of, former)
         pre- (before)
         re- (again, restore)
         un- (do the opposite of)
         ad- (to, toward)
         com-, con-, co- (with, together)
         en-, em- (in, into, to cover or contain)
         in- (into or not)
         pro- (in favor of, before)
         sub- (under, beneath)

    (Vocabulary is continued below.)

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    Vocabulary-Building Activities for All Ages

    4. Learn New Words Systematically and Regularly.

    __ Study all aspects of a word, such as its

         Meaning and Connotations

    __ Cover all vocabulary skills, including:
         Input: Understanding the word used in context when
              reading or listening.
         Output: Ability to use the word in speaking or writing
              (includes spelling).

    __ Read a dictionary together -- especially a children's dictionary with illustrations. Read a page or column each day and you will be surprised at the words you find and the opportunities you will have to use them. There are also daily calendars that have a vocabulary word for each day of the year.

    __ In a good dictionary, look for the usage of the word, i.e., when to use which word, and which preposition is usually used after it. (The American Heritage dictionary has usage entries.)

    __ Teach your child to use specific words rather than generic ones to enlarge their vocabulary and communicate more accurately. e.g., instead of top, use blouse, T-shirt, dress shirt, turtle neck, or sweater.

    __ Most good reading, writing, or spelling curriculum includes some vocabulary study. Or you can purchase vocabulary-building texts, flashcards, or audio tapes and books on word origins (etymology).

    __ Every area of knowledge has its own special vocabulary that helps to accurately define its unique information. These words need to be learned well in order to master the subject matter. In fact much of a subject can be learned by simply studying and learning the definitions of the special words.

    (Vocabulary is continued below.)

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    Vocabulary-Building Activities for All Ages

    5. Play Word Games.

    __ Play word games such as Scrabble, Upwords, Boggle, Taboo, Hangman, and crossword puzzles that challenge vocabulary skills. Some games have Bible versions. (Good gift ideas.)

    __ Make up oxymora (the plural of an oxymoron). An oxymoron is a paradox (meanings which are contradictory to each other), reduced to two words, usually adjective and noun (eloquent silence) or adverb and adjective (inertly strong). These are used for effect, complexity, emphasis, or wit. Which are most commonly used, funniest, or best make a point?
         (Send us a few, and we will put some of the best ones online for everyone to see.)

    __ Make up Ink-Pinks by defining and then guessing rhyming pairs, e.g., an "unhappy boy" is a "sad lad." A two-syllable combination is an Inky-Pinky, e.g., a "comical rabbit" is a "funny bunny." You can do three or more-syllable words as well (Inkety-Pinkety, etc.).
         (Send us a few, and we will put some of the best ones online for everyone to see.)

    (Vocabulary is continued below.)

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    Bible Vocabulary:
    Words and God's Word

         It is evident from Scripture that God places great value on words, provided they communicate truth in an honorable manner.

         God directed Adam to name the animals, Noah to preach to the perishing, Moses to issue the Law at Sinai, and prophets from Samuel to the Apostle John to deliver many vital messages to His people or to their enemies. He has inspired every word of our Bible, preserved it over the centuries, and fulfilled His promise to bless those who read, meditate on, and obey it.

         The importance God gives to the concept of communication is reflected in one of our Lord's names -- the Word (John 1).

    1. Study what God Says about Words and Their Use.

         It is enlightening and profitable to study what God has to say about words and their use. You can do this by using a concordance or the search feature of an electronic Bible or Bible software program to look up related words. Some words to study include:

         speech, speak, spoke(n), spake
         tongue, lips, mouth
         read, write, written
         book(s), Scripture(s)
         communication, answer
         law, statute, testimony, judgments
         command(ments), precepts
         instruction, teaching

         You can also use a topical Bible, cross references, or subject searches to find related passages.

         Some key Scripture passages about words include:

    God's Word
    Psalms 19 and 119 - David's love and appreciation for God's Word
    II Timothy 3:16 - the inspiration and profitability of God's Word
    Psalm 1 - the success of those who meditate on God's Word
    Nehemiah 8:8 - oral reading and explanation of God's Word

    Careful Words
    Psalm 141:3 - guarded speech
    Psalm 19:14 - prayerful speech
    Proverbs 16:23 - wise words
    Proverbs 20:15 - knowledge
    Proverbs 15:2 - wise words
    Matthew 12:36 - idle words

    Encouraging Words
    Proverbs 16:24 - pleasant words
    Proverbs 25:11 - words fitly spoken
    Proverbs 15:1 - soft answer
    Proverbs 15:4 - wholesome life
    Proverbs 15:26 - pure words
    Hebrews 10:24 - provoke to love
    Malachi 3:16 - speak to one another

    Destructive Words
    Proverbs 18:21 - death and life in power of the tongue
    Ephesians 4:25 - put away lying, speak truth
    Ephesians 4:29 - no corrupt communication, but good and edifying
    James 3:2 - offend not in word
    James 3:6 - the tongue is a fire
    II Timothy 2:23, 24 - avoid foolish questions, don't strive
    Psalm 34:13 - keep tongue from evil, lips from guile

         You can use these same methods and resources to study any topic in the Bible.

    2. Study Vocabulary Uniquely Used in God's Word.

         Another valuable study would be to list, define, and study vocabulary words that are special to the Bible or its teaching. For example:

         Faith, Salvation, Repentance
         Justification, Reconciliation, Sanctification
         Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent
         Infallible, Holy
         Sacrifice, Offering
         Psalm, Parable
         Prophet, Priest
         Communion, Baptism
         Creation, Incarnation
         Heretic, Abomination, Enmity, Condemn, Blasphemy
         Trinity, Eternity
         Forgiveness, Atonement, Passover

         Some of these words are not found in the Bible, although the doctrines they represent are there. Others of these words are used differently in the Bible than in modern literature and need to be understood in their biblical context. A Bible dictionary would prove useful in this study.

    3. Use Word Studies To Better Understand God's Word.

         Sometimes more than one Hebrew or Greek word has been translated by one English word. One example is love, which is agape in John 13:34-35 and phileo in John 16:27.
         Other times the same Hebrew or Greek word may be translated by two or more English words. For example, agape is love in I John 4:19, but charity in I Corinthians 13.
         You can find out which word is used in a given verse by reading an interlinear Bible that gives the original language directly under its English translation.
         You can get the same information from some concordances and at the same time find all the other verses that use the same original word, whether or not it is translated the same.
         Such word studies can enrich your understanding of Scripture if you allow the Holy Spirit to guide you (I Corinthians 2:9-16) and compare each verse with others on the topic to get the whole counsel of God on the topic.
         It is especially enlightening to identify distinct meanings when a word seems to be repeated in a passage. For example, in John 21:15-17 Jesus asked Peter twice if he loved Him (agape). Both times Peter answered that he loved Him (phileo). Then Jesus asked if he loved Him (phileo). This grieved Peter, but he answered that he did love Him (phileo).

    4. Use Words To Spread God's Word.

         For a Christian, the most important use of words is to persuasively communicate God's Word, His love, and the Gospel to those around us. II Corinthians 5:14-20.

         Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,
         as though God were making an appeal through us;
         we beg you on behalf of Christ,
         be reconciled to God.

    Vocabulary Links and Free Online Resources

    1,162 general vocabulary words with brief definitions.
    5,000 collegiate words with brief definitions.
    Vocabulary Studies.
    Word games, puzzles, drills, and activities.
    Free online dictionaries and thesauruses.
    Word usage.
    Latin and Greek elements in English words.
    Megalists of word links.
    Bible Study Helps.

    Facsimile edition of the original Noah Webster American
         Dictionary of the English Language. Definitions express
         Biblical perspective and reference Scripture.
    Christian Student Dictionary.
    Games. Rummy Roots and More Roots; Scattergories, Bible Edition;
         Bible TriBond Game; Quickword; Bible Crossword on CD-ROM;

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         Rick and Virginia Fugate's books.
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    Sunny Side Up: Only in the South
         Benjamin, 8, and I were playing Boggle. He spelled the word "pire." I told him that was not a word. He said, "Yes it is, Mama. You know it is in the song Pire in the Blood."
         Sent by Kathy B., Banner, Mississippi
         You are also invited to submit your humorous anecdote.

    God Loves You.
         Because we were separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ died in our place, then rose to life again. If we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, He will give us eternal life.
         "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9).

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