Vocabulary Bell Ringer Ideas

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are looking for ways to help your students transition into class, bell ringer activities can be the way to go. The activities in this lesson focus specifically on vocabulary.

The Idea Behind the Bell Ringer

Every teacher can benefit from having something for students to do while you take care of certain transitional necessities, like taking attendance, answering questions, and putting things away. These activities, known as bell ringers, can also be helpful to students, centering them in a way that gets them ready to take on the day's work.

Whether you teach language arts or any other subject that sometimes uses new and unfamiliar words, having bell ringer activities that deal specifically with vocabulary can be a great way to put your students in a frame of mind that will help them with whatever concepts you are about to work on. The bell ringer activities in this lesson can be modified to meet the needs of the students in your class and the specific vocabulary you are working on.

Visual Bell Ringers

These activities are great for those students who love to do art, learn from images, and organize new information graphically.

Word on a Table

At each table, place a card with one vocabulary word you are likely to be working with in class. Put a piece of paper at each student's spot, and give each table crayons or colored pencils. As students come in, explain that their job is to draw a picture that represents their table's word. They can talk quietly at their tables as they work.

Before beginning class, let each table share their word, and allow one student from each table to show the picture they developed. Students can then think about what the different words have to do with each other.

Describe an Image

As students come in, direct their attention to an image you have projected on the Smartboard or at the front of your classroom. Ask them to complete a graphic organizer at their table spot. One side of the graphic organizer can contain nouns that are relevant to the image, while the other can contain verbs or adjectives, depending on the nature of the image and how you hope to get your students thinking.

Word Wall Cards

Explain to your students that you are making a specialized vocabulary word wall. As they come in, ask each student to take responsibility for making one card for the word wall. Each card should contain one of the vocabulary terms you hope to include, as well as a small icon or image that the student finds helpful in remembering the word and its definition. Make sure you actually hang students' cards once they are finished.

Verbal Bell Ringers

The activities in this section will get students engaged right away with using language.

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