On October 16, “wordiacs” across the country will celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Noah Webster, considered the father of the American dictionary. While school-aged children might ‘take a page out of that book’ and brush up on their dictionary skills, you and your early learner can join the “party” with vocabulary-expanding games and activities.
Vocabulary grows very quickly from ages one to six. Toddlers have about a 20-word vocabulary. By first grade, most children have approximately a 2,600-word expressive vocabulary (words they say) and a 20,000 to 24,000-word receptive vocabulary (words they understand).
Vocabulary development enhances critical thinking, promotes comprehension of new concepts, and is a crucial factor in reading skills and school success in general.
HOW TO PROMOTE A RICH, VARIED VOCABULARY
A word (actually two) to the wise – TALK and READ to your child.
Talk It Up
Research shows a direct link between a child’s academic performance in third grade and the number of words spoken at home between birth and age 3, so ‘talk a blue steak’ with your child:
- Include new and interesting words in conversations: mealtimes, at the grocery store, in the park. Introducing new words in context helps your child learn their meaning.
- Use gestures and facial expressions to help make sense of new words.
- Invite your child to talk with other children. Encourage the conversation with questions and comments.
- Sing with your kiddo and recite poetry and rhymes (Mother Goose counts!) to playfully introduce vocabulary.
The benefits of daily reading with children are well documented. Enhance your child’s vocabulary development during read-aloud sessions by explaining new words, discussing interesting aspects of the illustrations, asking a few open-ended questions, and encouraging your child to finish sentences or rhymes in books with repetitive refrains. And, when your child asks you to read The Gingerbread Man each night for a week, take heart! Studies with young children show that more words can be learned when books are read several times.
EI’s Once Upon A Craft line of storybook and craft activities gives children opportunities to read, re-read, make crafts, and enjoy multiple creative experiences with classic fairy tales.
PLAY WITH WORDS!
Take turns acting out word meanings. Try nouns and verbs; you can even sprinkle in some simple science and math terms like rain, roots, circle, number, etc.
Odd Word Out
Say four words, three of which share a link, and one word that doesn’t belong. Encourage your child to shout out the “odd word out.” For example: red, green, cat, and blue.
Develop a vivid vocabulary that makes you child’s speaking and writing come alive! Work together to cut out colorful pictures from old magazines and catalogs and glue them to poster board. Then take turns playing I Spy, describing in as much detail as possible each item, including its color, shape, size, texture, sound, smell, movement, and so on.
Simon Says Strut!
Get the wiggles out and the vocabulary learning in! Play a game of Simon Says with directions using vocabulary-enriching action words (verbs). Here are some examples:
STRUT like a peacock
PROWL like a wolf
WADDLE like a walrus
Enhance the kinesthetic connection with EI’s Magic Moves Electronic Wand, an interactive music and movement toy with 26 tunes, sparkling light shows, and 90 movement activities.
Unleash a blizzard of word learning and creativity. What is your child talking non-stop about lately? Super-heroes, submarines, spiders – whatever it is, word storm the topic together. TIP: Your child will have even more to say after sharing a nonfiction book about the topic. Your child obsessed with spiders? Read a book (or two) about them! EI’s Hot Dots Jr. Ultimate Science Facts Interactive Book Set has three kid-favorite subjects: Dinosaurs, Sharks, and Space.
After reading a book (or watching a spider in your garden!), word storm adjectives that describe spiders and verbs that tell how they move.
Spiders: tiny, creepy, fast, hairy…
How spiders move: hide, jump, crawl, climb, hunt…
Work with your child to use the word stormed lists to create sentences about spiders: Tiny spiders hide. Creepy spiders crawl. Hairy spiders hunt. Make a spider book by writing each sentence on a page for your child to illustrate.