Vocabulary Anchors

This strategy is good to use to help the student connect words and to use Prior Knowledge.


  • Draw a simple boat and write a term on it your students probably know, like mountain.
  • Choose a related word, such as hill, that students probably also know and write it inside a rectangular anchor under the boat.
  • Connect the boat and anchor with a line to represent the rope.
  • Talk about similarities between the words and write them below to the left of the anchor, keying them with a plus sign (+).
  • Talk about the characteristics that set the words apart and list them below the box to the right, keying them with a tilde sign (~).
  • Discuss a memorable experience you associate with the main word.
  • Add a sail to the top of the boat and list a few key words or draw pictures to represent your memory.
  • Summarize by reviewing the drawing and talking about what the words mean and why they cannot be used interchangeably.

This is a good startegy to use with special needs children so that they can connect things. This could be used with any subject vocabulary.

Alexander, F. (n.d.). Guidelines for teaching vocabulary. Retrieved from Scholastic website: http://teacher.scholastic.com/reading/bestpractices/vocabulary/pdf/guidelines_vocab.pdf


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