ESL School Vocabulary Lesson Plan

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

In this lesson plan, ELL students will be introduced to school vocabulary words. They will get opportunities to practice the words through speaking, listening, reading and writing through a scavenger hunt, an engaging game and a writing prompt.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Use school vocabulary appropriate in conversation and writing
  • Define school vocabulary words in their own words


45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.3

Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.6

Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal precise actions, emotions, or states of being (e.g., quizzed, whined, stammered) and that are basic to a particular topic (e.g., wildlife, conservation, and endangered when discussing animal preservation).


  • student
  • teacher
  • backpack
  • book
  • paper
  • pencil
  • crayon
  • marker
  • desk
  • glue
  • lunch box
  • bus
  • playground
  • cafeteria
  • gymnasium
  • principal
  • library
  • scissors
  • folder
  • binder
  • stapler
  • homework
  • reading
  • math
  • science
  • history
  • recess


  • Blank paper
  • Clipboards (one per student)
  • Read aloud about school (optional)
  • Index cards with vocabulary words (one teacher set)
  • Muffin tins (one per student)
  • Cupcake liners (at least 12 per student)
  • Pom pom balls (at least 12 per student)
  • Markers


Scavenger Hunt

  • Tell students that they are going to learn words about school.
  • Distribute blank paper and clipboards to the students.
  • Take the students on a scavenger hunt of the classroom or school.
  • As you see examples of the vocabulary words, point it out. Show the students the corresponding index card and have them say the word aloud. Talk about what the vocabulary word means tapping into students' prior knowledge as much as possible.
  • Students will write the word on their paper, as well as a picture or definition that can help them remember the vocabulary word.
    • If you do not have access to a school or classroom, you can lead a read-aloud instead. Find a book about school (e.g. 'David Goes to School' by David Shannon or 'First Day Jitters' by Julie Danneburg) and use the text and illustrations to guide the activity.

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