Fostering Success in Elementary Writing.

Front-loading vocabulary increases student writing ability and engagement.
Help unlock the world of imagination and expression by front-loading vocabulary exercises.

Vocabulary is the key.

As elementary educators, we hold the key to unlocking this beautiful world of imagination and creativity for our young learners through the art of writing.  At the heart of this incredible experience lies the essential foundation of vocabulary.  These words are the building blocks that can ultimately shape the richness and complexity of their writing.

If your writing lessons were anything like mine, you always had a few struggling writers who groused about writing time.  They dragged their feet and complained.  Then spent much of their writing session trying to figure out how to start or what to write about, regardless of the prompt.  Does this sound familiar?

My lightbulb Moment.

 I will never forget the day my entire writing instruction changed. My class was full of precious fifth graders (I mean, they could also be ridiculously large pains in my backside—but that is a completely different story) who were low-performing, struggling students who wanted to do a good job but couldn’t figure it out. Many were learning English, and several more had a history of behavior issues in school, which had given them gaps in their learning, and they hated to write.

 I decided to have them create an extended writing piece set in the Rainforest.  Before we did any writing, and because they did not know about rainforests, I got the brilliant idea of drawing a rainforest picture.  I also found some rainforest clips on YouTube.  I wanted my kids to see and hear what a rainforest was like and hopefully incorporate some of that into their writing.  It worked so much better than I had hoped.  We used the drawings to color what the rainforest would look like authentically and added any object or animal we could think of that could be found there. 

Then, as a whole class, we listed many nouns, added adjectives, and verbs for each, and discussed what adventures could happen in a rainforest.  We celebrated rich vocabulary words or expressions that the students came up with and would excitedly add new ideas to our word lists.  We spent two days creating a rich working vocabulary and phrases list.  Students then planned out their rainforest adventure.  Every single student was able to plan out a story.  Every single one.  (No, not every story was great, but they all had one, and the students felt great about their writing.  That is a win!)

From then on, I spent time on front-loading vocabulary before my students had to write.  I will never forget one of my ‘high-fliers’ (you know what I mean) calling out, “I know what to write!  I know what to write!”

The Importance of Front-Loading Vocabulary

Spending some of your valuable class time on front-loading vocabulary before embarking on extended writing pieces can empower both teachers and students alike.

  1. Empower Student Expression.

So many of our young writers are brimming over with creativity and ideas but are cut short in their writing endeavors because of a limited vocabulary.  When we front-load vocabulary, we give our students the tools to express themselves more fully.  This empowerment fuels their confidence and enthusiasm for writing.

  1. Improve Comprehension.

Vocabulary serves as the doorway to comprehension and writing fluency. Usually, when students encounter unfamiliar words or phrases within a story prompt or assignment, they may struggle to understand or articulate their thoughts effectively. But when we introduce key vocabulary and word phrases beforehand, we equip our students with the necessary tools to navigate the tasks more confidently. Seeing and hearing, along with writing, support the different learning styles and English language learners. This method allows them a visual working knowledge that supports their learning and understanding.

  1. Nurture Critical Thinking Skills.

Front-loading vocabulary goes beyond just merely memorizing a list of vocabulary words.  It nurtures critical thinking skills by encouraging students to explore the magic of the language.  Students can expand their vocabulary skills and develop a deeper understanding of word meanings and how to use those exact words in different contexts and within different forms of writing. Eventually, with practice, students learn to make better word choices to express their ideas effectively.

Students work together with the teacher on their writing.
Set the stage for a supportive learning environment where every student feels valued and included.
  1. Building a Supportive Learning Environment.

Front-loading vocabulary helps create a supportive learning environment where every student feels valued and included. By introducing vocabulary as a whole-group activity and including collaboration from everyone, we allow every student to share and make contributions to help improve everyone’s writing. This empowering method allows all the students to feel successful and a part of the group. This learning process strengthens student vocabulary skills and builds the student community and shared learning experiences.  These types of lessons allow every voice to be heard and respected.

  1. Happy student writing because she is empowered in the classroom due to front-loading vocabulary lessons.
    Help instill a love of writing that can last a lifetime.

    Creates a Stronger Love for Writing.

Like every other writing lesson, the ultimate goal of this front-loading vocabulary is to help students feel successful and grow a love, or at least an appreciation, for writing. Spending time working collaboratively and creating working word lists helps the students generate story ideas, so all of the students feel successful from the beginning, and we miss a lot of the “I don’t know what to write’ stage.

As teachers, nothing is better than helping our students become successful and confident in their work. It is the ultimate blessing to know we empowered our students with the courage to begin a journey of writing and learning that will help take them through their school careers and beyond.

Front-loading vocabulary is not just another teaching strategy.  It is an incredible approach that empowers our students and allows them, with the support of the creative mind of the classroom, to unleash their full potential as writers and thinkers.  These supportive lessons allow all the students to thrive in their writing and know they are helping to support their classmates’ learning, too.


Hugs, Teacher Friend.

Thank you for continuing to help your students grow and for sharing your magic with the world.

The world needs you.


All of the creative writing activities that I create contain front-loading exercises.

Check out these titles that you could incorporate into your writing instruction:

Spring Writing Adventure

My Teacher is a Superhero