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WordBuild: A Better Way to Teach Vocabulary (Elements Levels 1 and 2)

WordBuild the Game

Dynamic Literacy, LLC
www.dynamicliteracy.com

PO Box 690
Keswick, VA 22947
888-696-8597


Dynamic Literacy's WordBuild Elements is a vocabulary program recommended for grades 5-10 (or as a remedial program/ESL program for grades 7-12). Level 1 and Level 2 each include a teacher edition and a student activity book, and the student activity books are reproducible. WordBuild the Game is a computer game for grade 5 through adult. WordBuild Elements focuses on teaching Greek and Latin roots (93 roots throughout the 3 levels of the program). By combining these roots with different prefixes and suffixes, the student is able to build or decode the meanings of thousands of words.

Level 1 includes 28 units, and Level 2 has 36 units. Level 1 begins with an introduction (or review, if the student has used WordBuild Foundations, which is the program for grades 3-5) of several prefixes and suffixes. After the introduction, the activities for each week are laid out similarly in both Level 1 and Level 2. Each day's exercise takes about 15-20 minutes. On day 1, the root and its meaning are introduced. The activity for day 1 is a "Root Square," which is a large square divided into nine smaller squares. The root is in the middle, surrounded by eight affixes. So, for example, in the "ced" square, "ced" is in the middle and is surrounded by eight different affixes (suc-, -ed, -ing, etc.) The student is to use the root and the affixes to build as many words as possible. The activity for day 2 is a "Magic Square," and in this exercise the student breaks words down instead of building them. The student matches up nine different words with their definitions and then writes the answers in a nine-grid square. The square is labeled with letters that correspond to the list of words, and the definitions are numbered. The student writes the correct number for each answer in the grid. To check his work, the student adds the numbers across and down the square, and he knows the answers are correct when the totals are the same for all rows and columns. "Stair Steps" is the activity for day 3. In this activity, there are portions of words missing. The student is to fill in the missing portions of the words using the definitions given. Day 4's activity is a "Comprehension Booster" in Level 1 and "In Other Words..." in Level 2. In these activities, the student uses a word bank and context clues to fill in the blanks in various sentences. Day 5 is an assessment of the week's root. In Level 2, there is an optional "Morpheme Mania" activity. This activity has students complete a chart with as many words as they can using the week's root and various affixes. Almost all of the above exercises are in the student activity book. The "Comprehension Booster" for Level 1 and the assessments for both levels are in the teacher edition. The teacher edition also includes helpful teaching notes, mini-lessons within each unit, lists of additional words that use the roots taught in the program, a mid-term assessment, and an assessment that covers the entire year.

WordBuild the Game
is a computer game that works on both PC and Mac. This game allows students to build words using prefixes, suffixes, and roots. Points are awarded for each word built, and the program keeps track of scores for individual players, as well as high scores for each root. It is a very basic game, with no animation or fancy graphics. There is background music and some amusing comments for each word built, but the game is not terribly engaging. It is good for review and for word building, though, and would provide a nice change of pace from book work.

Elements is a superb vocabulary program. Instead of memorizing a list of words, the student learns the meanings of the different parts of words, which then enables them to easily understand the meanings of many different words. I am currently using WordBuild Foundations (the younger level of the WordBuild program) with my 5th, 4th, and 2nd grade sons, and I plan to continue the program with each of my sons through the final level of Elements. We enjoy playing with words together, and I've seen my sons use what they've learned from the program in their writing. The covers of the books are flimsy, and the set including the teacher edition is kind of pricey (around $80 for the student activity book and teacher edition, though an individual student activity book costs around $10). But the program is so good these complaints should be overlooked. WordBuild the Game is almost $40 by itself, and I'm not sure it's worth that much money. However, if you bundle it with Elements Level 1, the price comes down to $20, and for that price I think it would be worth owning for a different way to play around with affixes and roots. Overall, this vocabulary program is wonderful, and I highly recommend you take a look at it for use in your homeschool.



Product review by Courtney Larson, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, June 2010


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