Blackboard and Chalk – The Perfect Tools For Boosting Vocabulary

As a child, I was always passionate about writing on a blackboard.  It was one of my favourite toys, especially when I could use different coloured chalk.  At that stage, I had aspirations of becoming a school teacher, but became a crossword puzzle designer instead.

I was reminded of this recently, when I saw the movie The Book Thief (2013).  The young heroine Liesel is encouraged to write down any new words she discovers while reading on a blackboard by her adoptive father Hans.  Eventually, the blackboard becomes covered in words, all beautifully sorted by the letter they begin with.


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At the time, I thought what a simple and effective tool the blackboard is, particularly for boosting a student’s vocabulary.  It can be seen as an educational puzzle in its own right.

The action of writing a word on the blackboard, whether it is copied or through dictation, helps the learner to become familiar with it to some degree, even though they may need to revise it a number of times.  This is also the case if the classroom teacher is writing a spelling list on the board and the student is copying them down.  There is an active thought process involved.

Word games such as Hangman are an ideal activity to play on the blackboard.  Students see how a word is spelled gradually – which letters are right and wrong, and eventually how the word is spelt correctly.

Good spelling is the foundation of beginning to solve crossword puzzles successfully.  Like Hangman, by answering clues, the letter in the squares begin to appear. However, unless you have the right answer the spelling of the word won’t be correct and the puzzle won’t work out.  A great way to make sure your spelling is right, lay it out like a Hangman clue on your blackboard.  Have your eraser ready in case you need to change a letter.

For Example:  Exciting experience  ___ D  ___ E N T ___ ___ E

Don’t forget, your dictionary can always be a great help.

The technology of the blackboard is very simple.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  Chalk and erasers are readily available, cheap and environmentally friendly.  Playing spelling games with your children is great fun, and it won’t be long before you start to see the benefits as their vocabulary grows.  As their word prowess builds you can move to the next level and start playing Scrabble.

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