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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp.  All rights reserved.
about the book
The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Homeschooling by Subject
Language Arts

Vocabulary and Etymology (Word Root)  
Resources for Homeschoolers

by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006

Vocabulary-building curriculum, programs, and free online resources
for studying Latin and Greek word roots...

There are many ways to build vocabulary on a daily basis -- thru
conversation, reading good books, looking thru newspapers and
specialty magazines, watching TV and videos (educational and
otherwise), and listening to books and lectures on tape.  There are also
many resources for those who are actively trying to learn new words.  
The two simplest -- the dictionary and the thesaurus -- may be sitting
on your shelf already!  

Many people also enjoy studying the historic and linguistic roots of
English words, because if you know the root meaning, you can often
figure out the meaning of a number of new words that use that same
root.  Because some homeschooling approaches, such as
Education, call for their students to learn Greek and Latin roots, there
are more resources for root words from these languages.

Another resource -- some
spelling programs are based on lists of
spelling words that double as a vocabulary list.  

Free Online Resources

Prefix and suffix wordworks -- elementary to middle school level
Rooting Out Words -- free online word root game (elementary level)
Latin and Greek Root Concentration -- find the matches
Open-Hand Concentration -- an easier matching game
Free Rice -- test your vocabulary while helping feed the hungry (with
every correct answer the sponsors donate money for rice)
Wordmaster's Challenge: Analogies -- high school level
More Wordmaster's Challenge: Analogies -- high school level
Analogies Jeopardy Game -- upper elementary level
Analogy Battleship -- middle to high school level
Etymologic -- a free online word-origin game that offers 4 possible
origins of a word, then gives the correct answer -- free online SAT-type vocabulary questions
Vocabulary Builder free online from -- free online vocabulary games
Dunk a Duck -- a free online hangman game, a duck makes funny
comments while you play and gets dunked if you lose. if you register
(FREE) you can enter your own list of words to play with!!
Word Vine -- place words on vine to show relationships in meaning

Online Etymology Dictionary -- a free online source for word
derivations and histories, search by word or browse alphabetically

Webster's Dictionary of Prefixes, Suffixes, and Combining Forms
-- a free online copy from the Script's Spelling Bee website, print it out!

Top 100 words in American Classics -- by Michael Clay Thompson

A Word A Day -- by, free service delivers a new
vocabulary word to your e-mail every day
Merriam-Webster Word A Day -- a new vocabulary word e-mailed to
you each day for free
Kid's Daily Buzzword -- from Word Central by Merriam-Webster, free
service e-mails you a new word every day with definition and history of
use, also, kids can build their own online dictionary
Worthless Word for the Day -- a free online group that sends daily
doses of real, but rarely used words,
subscribe here
Spelling City -- a free online data bank of spelling words you can use
to practice by playing games, even add you own spelling lists!

Curriculum, Workbooks, and Other Resources

Michael Clay Thompson's Etymology Series
Building Language
Caesar's English 1 and 2
Word-Within-a-Word 1, 2, 3

My favorite resource for learning about Latin and Greek word roots,
these books are written in a conversational tone and have just a touch
of clever humor here and there.  The first book is written for youngsters
(grade 2 - 4) who are interested in language -- it compares the Latin
word roots in the English language to the architectural remnants of
ancient Rome still standing today and teaches 10 Latin roots.  The
Caesar's English books use excerpts from classic children's literature to
illustrate word usage and compare Latin words to modern-day English
and Spanish equivalents.  The Word-Within-a-Word series is a
high-powered high school level vocabulary-building curriculum --
volume 1 has 30 lessons covering 500 stems, both Greek and Latin,
followed by 250 words made of those stems.  A new Yahoo! Group,
MCLTA, has been formed for support in using these materials!

English from the Roots Up -- a no-nonsense approach to learning
Greek and Latin roots, each page has a root and a list of words that
came from that root, flash cards can be made as you go, or bought

Jensen's Vocabulary -- a high-powered program teaching 1000+
words over 3 semesters of daily lessons, can be used independently

Red Hot Root Words 1 and 2 -- fun workbooks for learning roots, do
puzzles, fill-in-the-blanks, and other activities to practice them  

Words on the Vine -- (5th - 8th) fun roots workbook that includes
matching and writing exercises, as well as crafty and drawing activities

Word Roots software from the Critical Thinking Company--  match
words to roots, assemble words from definitions, apply words in context,
successful exercises are rewarded and progress is tracked with the
raising of a city, building by building (also available in workbook form)

Rummy Roots Game -- play games ranging from Go Fish to Rummy
using cards with Latin roots, Greek roots, and English words

Word Vine -- place words on vine to show relationships in meaning

Additional Resources

Introduction to Linguistics -- an online e-book by Michael Gasser,  
Associate Professor at Indiana University, learn about the science of

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives
and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words by
Anu Garg of A Word A Day

Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European
by Colin Renfrew -- proposes that the spread of
Indo-European languages was tied to agriculture, rather than war and

Do You Speak American? Perspectives on Written and Spoken
English -- a free online course from
Sez Who? -- "experts weigh in on the American penchant for creating
new words and  expressions"
Fun Latin -- funny modern phrases translated into Latin

Related Issues

Developing Verbal Talent by Michael Clay Thompson -- MCT
explains how reading high quality books is the best way to learn and
grow, from vocabulary, to grammar, to critical thinking

Consider participating in the
North American Computational
Linguistics Olympiad -- a competition (similar to popular math
olympiads) involving finding and figuring out patterns in languages.

Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric by Brigham Young
University -- examines the art of effective writing and speaking,  "...a
discipline for training students 1) to perceive how language is at work
orally and in writing, and 2) to become proficient in applying the
resources of language..."

nterested in learning the Latin as a way to learn about the roots
of the English language?  Visit the
Foreign Language section of
the Homeschool Diner!
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language arts
"By words the mind is winged."
-- Aristophanes, dramatist (c. 448-385 BCE)

"Language is the armory of the human mind; and at once
contains the trophies of its past, and the weapons of its future conquests."
--Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

The trouble with words is that you never know
whose mouths they've been in.
--Dennis Potter, dramatist (1935-1994)