How can we remember all this?

This is how we learn vocabulary in our house when the mind just can’t take any more and the clock is ticking down.  Kids are given a word bank and a list of definitions and must match the two.  It’s all about connections.

Vigorous:  strong; energetic

I hold my big guns (biceps) up in the air – “Look Stephanie, my arms are strong and energetic and are in the shape of a V – just like Vigorous.”

Illogical:  contrary to the rules of sound reasoning.

“Do you know what logical is?”


“Most people just study – they follow the study guide that their teacher sends home.  Tonight you are crying and pitching a fit.  That is illogical.  ILL – means sick.  Your logic about studying tonight is sick.  We need to get it well like it was last night.  Ill-logical.”

Subdued:  quiet; not as active as usual.

“Ships are on top of the water – moving quickly and loudly.  Submarines are quiet and sneaky under the water, like subdued.  Now what is the word?”

“Sub something.”

“Think about the time a kid pooped in the pool last summer.  Sub – like a submarine; dooed – like an underwater poop.”

“Got it.”

Invariably: constantly; always uniformly.

“Dad, the word uniformly reminds me of my uniform.”

“Well, you invariably wear a uniform to school.  And the “v” in invariably looks like the “v” in your uniform collar.  And the “n” sort of looks like a pair of short pants, just like your uniform.”

Vantage:  favorable or advantageous position for observing.

“I hate to have to point this out, but the word vantage is in the middle of advantageous.  Take advantage of that.”

Laboriously:  with much labor, toil, or difficulty.

“Do you know what labor means?”


“I and Us go with Lee to do labor.  Labor is done by I, us and Lee.  Labor-I-US-LEE. ”

Loped:  Moved with a long swining stride.

A big, funny, daddy lope across the den floor.  Arms dangling like a monkey.  “I’m lopin’ baby, I’m lopin’.”

Warily:  In a careful, cautious manner.

“Let’s all sing…Warily we roll along, roll along, roll along; warily we roll along in a careful, cautious manner.”

Rancid:  Unpleasant odor or taste.

“Your uncle’s feet smell rancid.  Remember the smell.  Remember the word.”

(By the way, rancid is one of my all time favorite words.)

Respite:  a temporary period of relief or rest.

“You tired of this?”


“Me too.  We need a respite.”


“Let’s go to bed.”

My kids are going to fail the SAT.

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  1. Steve Gill

     /  April 27, 2011

    I learned today that I don’t know how to study. Smart? Sure…. but creative in my habits? Nope. Thanks for that. I hope Marian gets to read this. She’ll really appreciate it.

  2. Dave K

     /  April 27, 2011

    Rancid is a great word.

  3. Awesome. Sounds like me and my dad..I remembered the ones we did together the most 🙂

  4. Mary

     /  April 27, 2011

    My kid has a vocabulary quiz on Friday. Are your services for hire?

    Also, you may want to check out You can create “flashcards” of words…but then generate quizzes from those words. It can be multiple choice, short answer, matching and/or true/false. There are games that can be played with the words, too. And it’s FREE!

  5. Love it!! I used to make up ridiculous sentences like this with my kids…worked every time! And probably better than rote memorization. Good job!

  6. Mom

     /  April 27, 2011

    And you told me this blog wasn’t very good. I laughed out loud before I got through it. Sometimes I wonder about how your brain works AND where in the gene pool this brain came from.

  7. Wren

     /  April 28, 2011

    I hear ya ~ dude. Subdued in Blenheim & ready for Summer, w

  8. Patty Thomson

     /  April 28, 2011

    oh my word, we can only hope that the other kids use the same definitions on the test, then maybe you all are safe!!! I would say it is a little “bruceish” way of looking at homework.!! love it.

  9. Francie Reding

     /  April 28, 2011

    I LOVE this post! Can I steal it? Better yet, I’ll just send you James’s vocab words each week. You have a gift my friend.

  10. Patti

     /  April 28, 2011

    I love mneumonic aids and I have always used them. I still think of some of the really lame ones I used as a child. (“Father” is spelled like “fat” “her”). Makes no sense, but whatever works….

    • Patti

       /  April 28, 2011

      P.s. I was a national merit scholar, so keep it up for the SAT prep!

  1. How can we remember all this? | Kids say :

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