First Grade Vocabulary

First Graders' Acquire Vocabulary Skills


Piloted in spring of 2013, the First Grade Vocabulary Enhancement Program completed its third year in 2016-17 serving 475 students in the OCPS district. The program curriculum was created in cooperation between OCPS District staff, Read2Succeed staff, and an educational consultant. 

The goal is to build vocabulary and background knowledge with at-risk first graders. Additionally, volunteers help students develop a curiosity about words and language while giving them the tools they need to be better readers. It utilizes fiction and non-fiction literature along with journals and art supplies to make learning fun!

Program materials and volunteer training is provided by the Read2Succeed team. This program is absolutely free to all participating OCPS district schools.

Research shows there is a great disparity of vocabulary acquisition based mainly on economic circumstances. Children enter school with "meaningful differences" in vocabulary knowledge. Race, ethnicity, gender and birth order do not seem to be an indicator of vocabulary knowledge but what does seem to matter is relative economic advantage.[1]

[1]Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.


Improving Vocabulary - Read2Succeed program steps:

Step 1: Connect with the student 

Step 2: Introduce or review the rules of the program.*

Step 3: Introduce or reintroduce the book you are currently working on with the student.  

Step 4: Introduce pre-selected vocabulary words that student will listen for and highlight in the book.

Step 5: Read the book aloud until the recommended stopping point.

Step 6: Review this session's vocabulary words and paste the journal sheet into student’s word journal. The student selects and highlights one vocabulary word on the journal sheet.

Step 7: The student creates a sentence using their selected vocabulary word and illustrates their sentence in their journal.

Step 8: Review previous vocabulary words and praise student’s effort. 

*What is vocabulary? 

Vocabulary is the words of a language or the set of words that a person or group knows or uses.

Why is vocabulary important to me?

  • The more words you know, the better you can understand what you are hearing and reading.
  • Having a bigger vocabulary means you can read more of what is interesting to you.
  • Knowing more words helps you to communicate better through speaking, listening and writing.

Weekly Program Calendar

Week Book Special Instructions
Week 1 Koalas pre-test and send book home
Week 2 Biscuit send book homes
Week 3 Just A Mess send book home
Week 4 Clifford at the Circus  
Week 5 Clifford at the Circus send book home
Week 6 The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash  
Week 7 The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash send book home
Week 8 Henry & Mudge in the Green Time  
Week 9 Henry & Mudge in the Green Time  
Week 10 Henry & Mudge in the Green Time send book home
Week 11 Pierre the Penguin send email request for next set of books
Week 12 Pierre the Penguin post-test and send book home
Week 1 The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree pre-test
Week 2 The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree send book home
Week 3 The Blind Men and the Elephant  
Week 4 The Blind Men and the Elephant send book home
Week 5 The Grouchy Ladybug  
Week 6 The Grouchy Ladybug send book home
Week 7 Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse  
Week 8 Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse send book home
Week 9 Chrysanthemum start to prepare student for program ending
Week 10 Chrysanthemum send book home
Week 11 Big Al  
Week 12 Big Al post-test and send books and materials home in tote bag


Program Kit


The kit includes seven books with corresponding materials. There is an option for volunteers and students to continue the program with a second set of six books.

Note: Books are given to the students upon completion to build a home library. Remaining supplies will be given to the students at the end of the program.


Program Evaluation

The first and last sessions of the program include a pre- and post-assessment. This assessment is administered in-person by the volunteer to measure each students' vocabulary acquisition over the course of the program.

Contact Us

Elizabeth Conrad, Read2Succeed Administrator
Direct: 407-317-3200, ext. 200-2835

Karen Anderson, Read2Succeed Volunteer Coordinator
Direct: 407-317-3200, ext. 200-2835

First Grade Vocabulary Enhancement Program Video