Boosting Vocabulary: Year 1 Vocab List


1. General action words

2. Expressive words

3. Descriptive words

4. Synonymns 



Year one is an interesting and fruitful time for children. It is a mix of kids being kids, while learning the fundamentals for years to come. This time is vital to segment reading and writing skills. When it comes to overall language learning, vocabulary is the bread and butter!


A vibrant set of vocabulary taught early on can be a stepping stone when it come to better reading comprehension, eloquent writing and easy communication.


For this reason, it is best to teach and encourage a variety of different academic words for different occasions so your children can soak them up like sponges. If you don’t know where to start, we're here to help!


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🏃‍♀️ General action words


Anybody who has been around children knows that they are all about the action. Which is why action words are a great place to start.


We want to separate action words and verbs here. “Action” is how we usually describe any type of verb, but here we're specifically referring to words that deal with subjects and activities your children might be keen on.


The reason it is so important to share this variety now, is that your children will be better able to articulate what they are doing. Also, whenever they have wishes or goals, they can share them with you as well. Here is a list of our picks:


  • Ignore
  • Investigate
  • Measure
  • Explore
  • Annoy
  • Protect
  • Focus
  • Decide
  • Discover
  • Invite
  • Wonder
  • Decide


Pro tip: Consider mentioning these words in-use! Introducing your children to these words while the action is happening will mean it is better memorised!


Here are some more:


  • Listen
  • Notice
  • Respect
  • Repeat
  • Search
  • Stomp
  • Surprise
  • Suggest

😶 Expressive words


So many feelings, so little words. 🔠


Let’s be real, even us adults don’t always know how to express what we want or feel. A variety of words to help us get there is certainly a plus!


Since last year, many students have been learning from home and this definitely impacted their emotions and how they express them. Now more than ever, it’s important we teach this expression.


Especially when learning to write, students always grab the first words they think of when they speak. Primary school are still establishing their vocabulary pool. They grab what they use, so why not have them use these academic words instead? Like:


  • Prefer
  • Comfortable
  • Fascinating
  • Frustrated
  • Exhausted
  • Embarrassed
  • Calm
  • Disappointed
  • Fair/Unfair
  • Miserable
  • Nervous
  • Positive
  • Worry
  • Interesting
  • Boring
  • Struggle
  • Jealous



📜 Descriptive words


In primary school, students always think of the go-to adjectives, for example: nice, pretty, and bad, to name a few. It’s time to switch it up and get descriptive! 🎨


Not only does this boost creativity, but it will help students think more colourfully and express themselves clearly.


In language science, there is a theory that considers how language directly shapes our thoughts. This is  called linguistic relativity. The earlier kids have more descriptive words in their arsenal, the more it will shape their thoughts and broaden their horizon.


For reading, writing and communication purposes. Swap out the boring descriptions and opt for some of the following instead:


  • Grumpy
  • Gigantic
  • Enormous
  • Important
  • Lovely
  • Ordinary
  • Precious
  • Spotless
  • Plain
  • Beautiful
  • Cheerful

🗣️ Synonyms for ‘said’


If you have ever read or heard a short story by a child in year 1, you've probably heard the overuse of the word ‘said.’ Do not fret, even adults and professional writers sometimes get stuck using it.


The reality: there are so many colourful and interesting words to describe communication. Whether in text with dialogue, or just verbal speech telling a story, teaching this variety will open many creative doors. 


Our pro-tip: you can practice this while watching movies or shows with a lot of expression! Here's an example list:


  • Mumbled
  • Murmured
  • Exclaimed
  • Asserted
  • Repeated
  • Reminded
  • Spoke
  • Added
  • Stated
  • Told
  • Responded
  • Remarked

There they are! We hope this list helps inspire you to think of new ways to boost your little one's vocabulary! If your children need some extra reading and writing tips, why not book a trial lesson with one of our experienced tutors at GoStudent? They're here to help you anytime, anywhere. 

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