Very Valuable Vocabulary


Liz Cosper

Rationale: The most important goal of reading is comprehension.  Once students have become fluent readers, they need to move to the next goal of reading, which is reading to learn.  In order to read to learn, students need to be taught vocabulary explicitly.  One key factor in reading to learn is having ownership of vocabulary, and ownership requires ten to eighteen engaging encounters in a variety of spoken or written contexts.  The purpose of this lesson is to have students learn a group of semantic words because related words are easier to learn.  Vocabulary words that are semantic activate one another and allow students to compare and contrast words to see the different relationships.    

Materials: Dictionary per Student; Worksheet with Vocabulary Sentences; Worksheet with Vocabulary Word Pairs; Chart for “Word Wizard” Points; Expository Text: Ready, Set, Breakfast!


1. “Today we are going to learn new some new vocabulary words.  Can anyone think of a reason to why we need to learn new vocabulary words? (I will allow students time to think of answers.) We need to learn new vocabulary words so that we can read and comprehend different words used by great writers and thinkers.  Today, we are going to focus on learning the vocabulary words obese, glutton, devour, appetite, fast, wholesome, nutrition, famished, and edible. Can anybody tell me how these words are related? All of these words deal with eating.”   

2. “First, we are going to learn how to look for our vocabulary words in a dictionary.  A dictionary is a book that contains many different words with their meanings.  Take out your dictionary from your desk.  The words in this book are in ABC order.  Our first word to look for is obese.  (I will have obese written on the board.)  To begin, you will look at the beginning letter of the word, which is o in obese. You will find where the letter o words begin in the dictionary.  Once you find the words that begin with o, you will look at obese again.  What is the next letter after o?  Correct! The next letter is b! Go to your dictionary and look to the words that have ob.  What is the next letter in obese? Right! The next letter is e so look for obe in the dictionary.  What is the next letter in obese? Great job!! S is the next letter so you are looking for obes.  What is the last letter in the word? Right! E is the last letter so look for the whole word.  What does obese mean? Awesome! Obese means very fat or overweight.  Now we have the definition for obese.  The next word is glutton.”  (We will use the dictionary to define the rest of the vocabulary words. I will also write each vocabulary word and definition on the board.)

3. After we have finished defining the words by using the dictionary, I will provide the students with some examples and some nonexamples for each vocabulary word.  “The word obese means to be overweight or very fat.  A person who runs every day and eats very healthy would not be obese. A person who eats candy and snack foods all day and never exercises would be obese.”

4. Model how to use the vocabulary word in a sentence before asking the students to generate a sentence.  “Let me show you how I might use obese in a sentence.  One out of three children and teenagers between the ages of two and nineteen are obese.  Now you try and finish this sentence: The obese person…..” (I will continue to do the examples, nonexamples, and finish the sentence for glutton, devour, appetite, fast, wholesome, nutrition, famished, and edible.)

5. We will continue talking about the vocabulary words.  I will have students comment about each vocabulary word.  “Would a person in the Olympics be obese? Why or why not?  Who might be obese?  Can animals be obese?”  We will continue talking about the rest of the vocabulary words. 

6. I will have the students complete a sentence using the vocabulary words. (See bottom for sentences worksheet.)

7. After completing the sentence sheet below, the students will read an expository text.  I will pass out an article that includes at least one vocabulary word from today’s lesson.  “The article that was just passed out is called Ready, Set, Breakfast!” I will provide an article talk to draw students into the text. “Who knows why breakfast is the most important meal of the day?? (Wait for answers.) Do you know what happens when you do not eat breakfast? (Wait for answers.) Well we are going to have to read to find out these answers!!!!!!!!!” After I have drawn the students into the text, I will have the students read silently.

8. When the students have finished reading, I will follow up with a discussion on the article. “Since you have read the article, who can tell me why breakfast is important?  (Wait for answers.) What happens when people do not eat breakfast? (Wait for answers.) What are some great breakfast meals? (Wait for answers.) What is one vocabulary word that you saw while reading?”  

9. The next day, I will also have the students try to use the words in pairs and see if the words will go together. (See bottom for the pair worksheet.) This exercise is for understanding the words rather than getting the right answer. 

10. Another activity that the students will participate in is called “Word Wizard.”  The students will look for obese, glutton, devour, appetite, fast, wholesome, nutrition, famished, and edible outside of the classroom.  The students will earn points by seeing a word in print, hearing it spoken, or using the word themselves.  The points the students earn will be used to earn ranks.  The ranks progress from word apprentice to word journeyman to word wizard.  (You will need a chart with each student’s name to be able to keep up with the “Word Wizard” points.)


1. Vocabulary Sentence Worksheet

2. Vocabulary Pair Worksheet



Directions: Fill in the blanks with the vocabulary word list.

Words: Obese, glutton, devour, appetite, fast, wholesome, nutrition, famished, edible

1. The cat is always eating, therefore the cat is________________________.

2. A pig is considered a ______________________ because it eats all of the food that it can find.

3. The mushrooms that were _______________________ became poisonous.

4. Paul was so hungry he did not take long to _________________________ his first meal after being rescued from the snow storm. 

5. The food is plentiful and very ______________________.

6. I had a huge _________________ because I had not eaten all day.

7. My brother was ____________________ after three days of no food. 

8. Eating a variety of foods is important for your _____________________.

9. Sarah is going to _________________ from coffee for a week.


Answers: 1. Obese 2. Glutton  3. Edible  4. Devour  5. Wholesome  6. Appetite     7. Famished  8. Nutrition  9. Fast




1. Could a person be obese and a glutton?

2. Can something be wholesome and famished?

3. Can something have nutrition and be edible?

4. Can a person have an appetite and devour?

5. Can a person fast and devour?

6. Can a person have an appetite and be obese?

7. Can a person be wholesome and famished?

8. Can food be edible and have nutrition?


Making Sight Words by Bruce Murray

Expository Text:

Return to Epiphanies index.