3rd Grade Vocabulary Words and Game Ideas

, Staff Editor
Updated June 24, 2020
Vocabulary word coast with definition
    Vocabulary word coast with definition
    coast: Thomas Winz / The Image Bank / Getty Images, background: nigelcarse / E+ / Getty Images

Third grade grammar lessons include introducing new vocabulary words that are different from 3rd grade spelling and Dolch sight words. Try to present and explain 3rd grade vocabulary games with definitions and use these fun games to help keep kids engaged.

3rd Grade Spelling Words With 5 Letters or Fewer

The NYS Next Generation ELA Learning Standards emphasize academic vocabulary words for third graders in literature, math, science, social studies, and other subjects. Start with these shorter words that match up with typical lessons for this age group.

  • cause (n.) - the agent that brings about an effect or result
  • coast (n.) - land along the ocean
  • effect (n.) - the result of something
  • elect (v.) - to choose, or vote, a person for office
  • event (n.) - something that takes place
  • fatal (adj.) - something that causes death or leads to a failure
  • gist (n.) - the main point
  • infer (v.) - to conclude from evidence
  • mend (v.) - to fix or repair
  • occur (v.) - to be found or to happen
  • peer (n.) - an equal in age or skill
  • scar (n.) - a mark left on the skin or in the mind after it heals
  • unite (v.) - to join or bring together
  • vat (n.) - large basin that holds a liquid

3rd Grade Vocabulary Words With 6 or 7 Letters

As the school year progresses, students in third grade can start to add longer words to their vocabulary. These words should be taken from your grade level reading list and subject lessons.

  • addend (n.) - a number or quantity to be added to another
  • arrange (v.) - to put things in correct, proper, or suitable order
  • attract (v.) - to draw in
  • compose (v.) - to combine or put something together
  • credit (n.) - praise for something or a financial balance
  • culture (n.) - a particular set of customs, morals, and traditions from a specific time and place
  • decree (n.) - an official order or decision
  • divisor (n.) - the quantity by which another quantity is to be divided
  • example (n.) - something or someone used as a model
  • passage (n.) - an enclosed area you move through
  • radiant (adj.) - sending out rays of light
  • region (n.) - a specific area
  • repair (v.) - to fix something
  • scatter (v.) - to spread something around in many directions
  • shiver (v.) - to shake or tremble
  • similar (adj.) - nearly but not exactly the same or alike
  • vermin (n.) - small destructive animals
  • vertex (n.) - the top or highest point

3rd Grade Vocab Words With 8 or More Letters

Students in third grade should be able to read, spell, and properly use these long vocabulary words by the end of the school year. Many of these are math terms that can be presented as part of math lessons rather than ELA lessons.

  • additional (adj.) - something more or added on
  • agreeable (adj.) - willing or ready to consent
  • attribute (n.) - quality or characteristic of a noun
  • congruent (adj.) - having the same measure or same shape and size
  • continent (n.) - one of the seven main land masses on Earth
  • decompose (v.) - to break down into basic components or parts
  • denominator (n.) - the number below the line in a fraction
  • endangered (adj.) - in danger or at risk
  • equation (n.) - a statement of equality between two quantities
  • intelligent (adj.) - someone or something that is informed and shows sound judgement
  • numerator (n.) - the top number in a fraction
  • procession (n.) - a group of people or things moving forward in an orderly fashion
  • remainder (n.) - what is left over after some is removed
  • ridiculous (adj.) - something silly and foolish that can’t be true
  • shrieking (n.) - a high pitched sound
  • swindler (n.) - person who cheats
  • volunteer (v.) - to give without being asked or paid

3rd Grade Vocabulary Game Ideas

There are tons of simple games you can play to build vocabulary with children in third grade. Try to think outside of the box and use games that 9-11 year olds will really enjoy.

Vocab Musical Chairs

Play a unique game of musical chairs without the music.

  1. Set up chairs in a circle so you have one chair for all but one student.
  2. Kids will walk around the chairs while you read vocab words.
  3. Instead of playing music, read off a list of vocabulary words.
  4. When you say a word that isn’t from your class vocabulary list, kids have to sit down in a chair.
  5. The person who doesn’t get a chair is out.
  6. Remove one chair from the game and continue.
  7. The last child sitting is the winner.

Vocabulary Sentence Race

If you’re working with only one student, challenge them to a vocab sentence race. The objective is to use as many vocabulary words properly in sentences as you can.

  1. Split your vocabulary list into groups of ten words.
  2. For the first list, start by saying “I can use X number of vocabulary words in separate sentences.”
  3. Both people take turns saying how many of those 10 vocabulary words they can use in separate sentences within one minute.
  4. When one person feels like the other won’t be able to do what they say, this person says “Go ahead, use those words in sentences.”
  5. Start the timer and the challenged player has one minute to use the number of vocabulary words they said they could use, each in a different sentence.
  6. If the challenged person uses the right number of words in proper sentences before time is up, they get a point.
  7. Each round is played the same, but uses a different list of 10 vocabulary words.

Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt

Use your vocabulary list as a scavenger hunt list. Head out on a walk around school or your town and try to find examples of each vocabulary word as you walk. If you find all the items on the list, you win.

Play With Words

This vocabulary list may only get you through a few weeks of vocabulary lessons in third grade depending on how many words you explore in a week. Continue building your 3rd grader’s vocabulary with 3rd grade high frequency words or fun vocabulary group games.