Visualizing Vocabulary

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Vocabulary can become tedious and a chore if it is approached as such. I try to make art terms and vocabulary meaningful, something the students will remember and use for years to come. In fact, I have students asking when we'll "do" vocabulary again!

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Each unit of study, I hand out fluorescent 3" x 5" cards to the students and ask them to write down a vocabulary word from our current unit, and then illustrate the word on the card. These are hung on the wall. For instance, the term might be "three dimensional" and the student may draw a small 3-D box on the card along with the word. Many times the students want to do more than one vocabulary word for the unit.

At the end of a semester, I have found that both of the following vocabulary review projects work wonderfully. Plus, they create great works of art. I have each student choose a vocabulary word from the semester, and then select one of these two ways to illustrate it.

CURSIVE CREATURE RUBBINGS Fold a piece of paper in half vertically, and write the vocabulary word in black crayon in cursive writing on the fold. Then, fold the paper into itself, and rub the crayon word with a wooden spoon, or any other available utensil that will not tear the paper. This rubbing transfers the word to the other side of the paper, creating a mirror image.

Next, the students use crayons to make color blends within the vocabulary word. When the coloring is done, the vocabulary word looks like a bug or creature. (When the words are hung up, it's fun for the students to see if they can discern what the other students' vocabulary words are, which is a good review. …