Thursday, August 12, 2010

You Can’t Say No!: A Fun Vocabulary Challenge

Hannah and the HomunculusHannah and the Homunculus 

Homunculus knows the power of words... After all, it was a word that gave him life.

In this delightfully witty tale by author Kurt Hassler, Homunculus steals Hannah's word "No" and interrupts how Hannah interacts with her family.

Definition of the word Homunculus - a very small human being: a diminutive human being


1. Read the book, Hannah and the Homunculus to the students.

2. When you are finished reading, ask if anyone has some thoughts as to what Hannah could have said in response to her father and her mother instead of using the word “no”. Create a list with the alternatives that the students brainstorm. Challenge the students to try not to use or say the word “no” for the rest of the day. At the end of the day, have a discussion about the challenge. How’d they do? Was it hard? Why? Did it make us use different words that we might not use otherwise?

3. Try this with a few other words that are commonly used, keeping a visible list of all of the synonyms the students generate. This activity will turn into “Word of the Week”, an ongoing vocabulary building activity where students become word detectives, both finding and using new words in their speaking and writing. Here are some Word of the Week Posters to print out. 

4. At this point, students should have the Six-Tab Side by Side Instead of... Foldable® so that they can keep their own book of synonyms and alternative words/phrases which can be used for writing. You can find directions for making Side by Side Foldables® in the first section (Introduction) of Foldables® and VKVs® for Phonics, Spelling, and Vocabulary PreK-3rd and Foldables®, Notebook Foldables®, and VKVs® for Spelling and Vocabulary 4th-12th.


  1. I just found your blog via Pinterest (oh happy day...) and want to congratulate you on your thoughtful use of foldables. I'm hoping to use them much more in the upcoming year and LOVE this project, as well as the "Where Do I Come From" project. Very nice work :o)

  2. Me too!! I'm not even a teacher yet (finishing school) and I've bookmarked this page. This is a great idea and makes writting so much easier for kids! Thanks pintrest!