Using Familiar Song Lyrics to Build Vocabulary Activities

With the advent of emailing and texting, it seems like our kids’ vocabularies are shrinking.  Heck, the actual words and phrases themselves are shrinking!  (OMG, LOL, UR)  So, I’m always on the lookout for ways to expand my kids’ vocabularies.  During the recent holiday season, it occurred to me that many of the traditional songs utilize words that a lot of kids might not even know these days.

Here's a Fun Music-Themed Vocabulary Classroom Activity

Here’s a Fun Music-Themed Vocabulary Classroom Activity

Not all of the words have to be “out there” or old fashioned, either.  Well-known songs can just be a great way to give kids context clues about words they aren’t familiar with yet.

For example, the song “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” offers a fun vocabulary lesson for elementary kids with words like “glistening,” “conspire,” “meadow,” and “thrilling.”  “Let It Snow” introduces words like “frightful” and “delightful.”  And, really, ”You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” could be a vocabulary lesson all on its own with words like:

  • Charming
  • Vile
  • Seasick
  • Foul
  • Rotter
  • Sinful
  • Sots
  • Splotched
  • Appalling
  • Overflowing
  • Disgraceful
  • Assortment
  • Deplorable
  • Rubbish
  • Mangled
  • Nauseate
  • Toadstool
  • Arsenic

Tell me that wouldn’t be a super-fun vocab lesson!

Of course, holiday songs aren’t the only ones that can be used this way.  Consider using patriotic songs around President’s Day.  “America the Beautiful” provides some great words like “spacious,” “majesty,” “fruited,” and “brotherhood.”  And that’s just in the first verse.  The national anthem is another great choice.  If you’re going to be singing the words “perilous” and “ramparts” for the rest of your life, you might as well know what they mean, right?

You can extend this idea by using songs from pop culture, as well, or finding other ways to tie in holidays (love songs for Valentine’s Day, etc.)

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About the author

Lorna Doone Brewer is a freelance writer, also known as the Queen Bee. She lives in the beautiful Inland Northwest with three spirited daughters and a wildly outnumbered husband.

View all articles by Lorna Doone Brewer

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