My Brother Sam Is Dead: Vocabulary List and Lesson Ideas for Comprehension

By Pamela Rice-Linn

Preview this vocabulary list with your students to ensure they understand what they’re reading while they’re reading the novel. Definitions and activities will keep students engaged in the novel while they acquire a new set of vocabulary words.

My Brother Sam is Dead If you've decided to read My Brother Sam Is Dead with your students, this vocabulary list and collection of vocabulary activities will make your lesson planning a cinch. Provide this list of My Brother Sam Is Dead vocabulary in its entirety or divide it into sections for students to master bit by bit. Page numbers help students locate the words in context while activities keep them engaged and retaining what they've learned. So now that you're all set, it's time to sit back and enjoy reading a great novel with your students.

Before You Read

  • Write the vocabulary on the board and have students guess at their meanings. As students locate definitions in the story or in a dictionary, have them check their guesses for accuracy.
  • Provide the list of words with definitions. Have students create a graphic organizer to list examples and non-examples of the word. Pictures also help students visualize the meaning of the word, so ask them to provide illustrations for each vocabulary definition.

While You Read

  • Students may search for the vocabulary word according to the page number and then use the context clues to create a definition or an explanation for the current definition.
  • As you complete each new section, provide a review activity for the recently acquired vocabulary. Try a memory game using flashcards, vocabulary bingo, create a crossword puzzle, or create a writing assignment in which students must use their new vocabulary. With each opportunity for practice, students gain another chance to retain and improve their vocabulary comprehension.
  • Ask students to create their own vocabulary list of words they do not understand. To challenge higher level readers, have them provide synonyms and antonyms for selected words or the entire My Brother Sam Is Dead vocabulary list.

After You Read

  • Ask students to use a graphic organizer to categorize this vocabulary list into parts of speech. Practice using vocabulary by playing a Mad Libs game and inputting only the necessary parts of speech from the vocabulary list.
  • Create a vocabulary collage with images and words. When students associate the word with an image, they have a better chance of retaining the word’s meaning.

Chapter 1-3

  1. 800px-So many words muffled, p. 1—to wrap with something to deaden or prevent sound
  2. Patriots, p. 2—a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion
  3. Minutemen, p. 2—a member of a group of American militiamen before and during the Revolutionary War who held themselves in readiness for instant military service
  4. Lobsterbacks, p. 2—a redcoat or British soldier
  5. ammunitions, p. 2—any weapons used in a conflict
  6. prevail, p. 6—to exist everywhere or generally
  7. treason, p. 6—the offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill its sovereign
  8. Tories/Loyalists, p. 6—persons who supported the British cause during the American Revolution
  9. Parliament, p. 8—the legislature of Great Britain
  10. sloth, p. 13—laziness
  11. subversion, p. 21—something that brings about an overthrow
  12. vile, p. 22—highly offensive or unpleasant
  13. principles, p. 28—a guiding sense of the requirements and obligations of proper conduct
  14. bayonet, p. 29—a dagger like steel weapon attached to the muzzle of a gun that is used for stabbing or slashing
  15. idling, p. 41—not working or active

Chapter 4-6

  1. disarm, p. 51—to deprive of weapons
  2. peered, p. 52—to look at searchingly
  3. muzzle, p. 55—the mouth or barrel of a gun or pistol
  4. petition, p. 63—a formal written request bearing the names of people making the request and addressed to people or groups of authority
  5. ciphering, p. 66—to calculate numerically
  6. commissary, p. 80—a store that sells food and supplies to the personnel or workers in a military post or work camp

Chapter 7-9

  1. enlistment, p. 86—a period of time for which one is committed to military service
  2. hardtack, p. 87—a hard, saltless biscuit
  3. roving, p. 91—roaming or wandering
  4. pallets, p. 100—a bed or mattress of straw
  5. retaliates, p. 101—to return for like, counter, repay, or reciprocate
  6. sedition, p. 102—any action promoting discontent with a government; mutiny
  7. moored, p. 104—to fix firmly; secure
  8. veer, p. 112—to change direction
  9. turmoil, p. 119—a state of great commotion, confusion, or disturbance
  10. ambush, p. 119—a surprise attack

Chapter 10-14

  1. depreciation, p. 129—decrease in value
  2. vanguard, p. 136—the person at the forefront of any movement, field, activity, or the like
  3. fusillade, p. 141—a continuous discharge of firearms
  4. arc, p. 144—to form in a curve
  5. insignia, p. 153—a badge or distinguishing mark of office or honor
  6. unscrupulous, p. 174—without principles
  7. compunction, p. 174—any uneasiness or hesitation about the rightness of an action; remorse
  8. foreboding, p. 184—a prediction; a strong inner feeling of a future misfortune
  9. clemency, p. 194—mercy; leniency
  10. stockade, p. 196—an enclosure or pen made with posts and stakes
  11. whet, p. 201—to sharpen
  12. mallet, p. 208—a hammer-like tool used for striking a surface

Prepare for reading the classic young adult novel My Brother Sam Is Dead by using this vocabulary list. Improve reading comprehension and vocabulary retention during and after reading. With improved comprehension, students will be able to appreciate the many faceted relevance of this novel.