Why This is Important
Vocabulary is a child’s knowledge of and memory for word meanings. A strong vocabulary improves all areas of communication—listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Goals for Strong Readers
- Learn and use new words through an array of activities.
- Build a large receptive vocabulary (words children understand when they are read or spoken to).
- Enhance expressive vocabulary (words children know well enough to use in speaking and writing).
Name a topic such as “farms” and ask your child to think of all the words he or she can think of related to that topic.
More Activities and Games
Call out a new or difficult word from this list. Play music while passing a ball, stuffed animal or a potato. Stop the music and have child holding the ball or other item to give a definition or example of the new word.
Choose an ingredient from your kitchen cabinet or refrigerator. Brainstorm as many words as you can to describe what it looks like, smells like, feels like, tastes like, and sounds like. Discuss what recipes could include this ingredient.
- Choose a category and brainstorm words with your child that will fit into that category. Have your child write each word on an index card or square piece of paper. For example, if the category is places to go on vacation, your child’s responses could be, the beach, theme parks and Grandma’s house.
- Then take one of those responses and have your child brainstorm words associated with that category. For example, if the category is the beach, your child could write down responses including, sand, swim suit, water, ocean, umbrella, boat, sunglasses, goggles, sunshine.
- Optional final step: If you and your child have brainstormed enough words, have your child sort the written words into other categories based on their similarities. For example, your child might put sunglasses, swim suit, and goggles in the same category because they are all items that can be worn.
Write a simple sentence, such as, I see a dog. Have your child help you come up with descriptive words to add details to the sentence. Rewrite the sentence each time. As you write the sentence, have your child draw a picture, also adding more detail each time. If your child is able, he or she can also write the sentence using inventive spelling and letter formations.
- I see a dog.
- I see a spotted dog.
- I see a big spotted dog in the grass.