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8 of the Best Vocabulary Teaching Resources for KS3 English

Help your secondary students branch their vocabularies out with these lesson plans, activities, ideas and games...

  • 8 of the Best Vocabulary Teaching Resources for KS3 English

1 | Stretching their Vocabulary lesson plan

​You’ve probably all experienced that moment when you sit down to mark a set of GCSE creative writing pieces of coursework with high expectations of the Orwellian level of vocabulary that you’re about to encounter.

That feeling that’s swiftly followed by the frustrating realisation that, despite showing your students countless examples of wonderfully crafted pieces of writing, you’re facing descriptions such as: “The sky was nice and blue with nice fluffy clouds”.

So, how do you improve the breadth of vocabulary that your students have at their disposal, in order to enhance their writing? How can you ensure that learners are fully engaged in the process of self-consciously crafting their own language?

The ideas in this lesson provide a starting point for activities that will extend the breadth of language for your students across time.

Get this free lesson plan here.


2 | Ten new words

This resource from lostinwords.co.uk provide 10 new words for KS3 or 4 students learn and a range of activities in which to use them.

There are definitions and pronunciation guides, and tasks that get students to draw what the word means to them, match each one up with a simile and use them in a sentence.

And, of course, if you find it works, you can use it as a template to create a similar resource with 10 new words of your choosing.

Click here to get this PDF.


3 | Zombie Outbreak lesson plan

Could zombies help pupils become better writers, readers and speakers? Well, what learner doesn’t want to take part in a lesson about zombies? The subject matter engages younger KS3 learners from the start and is used to deliver skills related to oracy, reading and writing.

Pupils will be taught to understand increasingly challenging texts through learning new vocabulary, relating it explicitly to known vocabulary and understanding it with the help of context and dictionaries; write accurately, fluently, effectively and at length for pleasure and information through summarising and organising material; and supporting ideas and arguments with any necessary factual detail.

Get this resource here.


4 | Word games

There’s a great selection of vocabulary activities on teachitenglish.co.uk, including:

But if you want some fun classroom ideas to try then these speaking and listening word games, which include ‘What’s my Word?’, where students read a definition out from the dictionary and classmates try to guess the word, and ‘Just a Minute’ where the first person must talk about a given topic for 60 seconds without hesitation, repetition or deviation.

Find these and more games with this resource here.


5 | Turn learners into journalists

This lesson gives students a real-life scenario to work with and reinforces grammatical knowledge of sentence structure and language use. Plus, it can be extended into different modes of delivery.

Key curriculum links include reading a range of non-fiction; knowing the purpose, audience for, and context of the writing and drawing on this knowledge to support comprehension; and applying knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and text structure to their writing and selecting the appropriate form.

Download this free PDF here.


6 | Alex Quigley – One word at a time

Ask a secondary school teacher about the new curriculum and they’ll likely tell you a similar story: the degree of difficulty is more formidable than anything we have seen for a generation.

It can be hard to know where to start, so Alex Quigley takes things back to basics to address the fact that students are being faced with harder texts, using more complex vocabulary, earlier than ever.

He’s even been kind enough to provide a list of activities you can use to do that.

Check out this article at theconfidentteacher.com here.


7 | Develop sentence structures

This lesson aims to inspire students to be more imaginative in their writing and really bring together elements of other curriculum areas to help them understand the importance of creativity and the place of writing across all disciplines.

The session also gives a range of approaches to widening vocabulary and developing sentence structures, which is vital to promote literacy across the curriculum and narrow the achievement gap between pupil premium students and their more affluent peers.

Get this resource here.


8 | Widen vocabularies to access texts on multiple levels

It is important for students to be confident when faced with any unseen text, in any subject. Having a wide vocabulary on which they can comfortably rely is key.

These teaching ideas aim to guide students towards expanding their vocabulary, not just in terms of synonyms, but also in terms of vocabulary related to specific eras and topics.

Having this toolkit will allow students to access a text on multiple levels, bringing about good outcomes when tackling exam questions.

Download all this here.

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