Word-Finding Strategies for the Classroom

So we’ve learned about word-finding and how it can impact our students (go here for more info) so now what? Good news.  There are word-finding strategies and activities that you can use in the classroom to help your students with word retrieval difficulties or for your students who have weak vocabulary.

Title of the blog, "Word Finding Strategies for the Classroom" with a picture of empty desks in rows.


Use Visuals

When introducing new topics or concepts, use visuals. Sometimes seeing a picture will help the student retrieve the word. Also, if the student can’t retrieve the word, they can point to the picture.

Have a Variety of Alternate Materials Available

When learning materials, it can be helpful to have a wide variety of different of books and other related materials (e.g., YouTube videos) available.  Having information available in different mediums and in different ways can be very beneficial.

Provide Extra Time

Give students extra time to understand the message and some extra time to respond. Extra time will give the student a chance for them to use their strategies to “find” the words they are having troubles retrieving.

Help With Word Retrieval Strategies

After giving the student with an appropriate amount of extra time and if a student needs help using their strategies, you can cue them with the specific strategies that work for them. You can have the student talk with the teacher about which strategies, they would like the teacher to use.

Explicitly Teach New Vocabulary

Include features such as the first sound and how many syllables. If the word contains prefixes, suffixes, or common root words, talk about those too. Word webs are a great tool for teaching new or less familiar vocabulary.

Play Word Games

Play word games with your class. Games like Penguins to Pickles and Scattegories are fun games to play. But games like “What does not belong?,” Name as many [category] as you can, can be fun and effective. You can also try games where you name synonyms, antonyms, etc. for older children.


Word retrieval strategies can be a helpful tool for teachers to help students “find” their words. If you are interested in a handout that explains word-finding difficulties, check out this handout (click here).


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