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Ideas for Targeting Vocabulary in Literacy-Based Therapy

Updated: Feb 19

Semantic activities focus on learning new vocabulary and/or thinking about words and their relationships.

Semantic skills include:

  • Learning vocabulary in or related to the story

  • Synonyms & antonyms

  • Associations

  • Categories

  • Describing

  • Words with multiple meanings

  • Basic concepts (e.g. qualitative, spatial, temporal)

  • Comparatives & superlatives (e.g. big, bigger, biggest)

  • Prefixes & suffixes

💡 Here are eight fun ideas for targeting vocabulary! 💡

vocabulary - semantic activity ideas

1️⃣ Create a word wall for each book unit! Arrange the words by part of speech or beginning sound (work in some phonological awareness).

Involve students in the process by asking them to identify words they don’t know. Have them write the words on index cards or repurposed cardboard (e.g. cereal boxes, Amazon boxes, etc.).

You can also add synonyms & antonyms to the wall!

2️⃣ Create a personal vocabulary dictionary or journal for each student

3️⃣ Play BINGO! Have students create their own bingo boards - they can write the words on their board or the definitions!

4️⃣ Formulate a sentence using the vocabulary target in the context of the story.

Later, you can also incorporate target vocabulary words into story retell tasks and when creating a parallel story.

5️⃣ Determine the part of speech.

If the target word is a noun, describe it. Put a sticky note on Student A's forehead (or in a headband from the HedBanz game) and have each student in the group describe the item for Student A to guess

If the target word is a verb, act it out. Play charades!

If the target word is an adjective, make a list of things the adjective could describe. Maybe go on a scavenger hunt to find things in your environment that the adjective could describe.

6️⃣ If the target word is a verb, try making sentences using different verb tenses!

7️⃣ Go on a scavenger hunt! Write definitions of vocabulary words (or have students do it!) and then hide them around the speech room or out on the playground for students to find. Then they can match the definition to the word and make a sentence using the target word. Talk about how the word connects to the story.

8️⃣ Play Jeopardy using the free website

semantic activity examples

Before you go...if you're looking for a no-prep or print and go resource that has a variety of activities already done for you, then take a peek at my:

I hope this has been helpful 💛

about the author Sarah


Ukrainetz, T. A. (2006). Contextualized Language Intervention: Scaffolding Prek-12 Literacy Achievement (1st ed.). Pro Ed.


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