Building Vocabulary: 5 Fun Ways to Introduce Your Child to New Words

By learning new words and growing their vocabulary, children can begin to express themselves more clearly and confidently and become great communicators. Whether your child is not yet verbal, has begun to babble, or is already speaking, it’s important to remember that every child is unique and will develop their language skills at their own pace. Regardless of where your child is on their developmental journey, hearing, reading, and learning new words will always be beneficial to their progress, and the best part is that it can be so much fun! But you might be asking yourself “how do I teach my child a new word?” or “what is the best way to introduce new vocabulary in a fun way?”. Not to worry, in this article, we’ll share five exciting ways you can introduce language to your child and expand their lexicon (and world!).

  1. Describe the Picture Game

Time to get creative! For this game, draw a picture and ask your child to describe what it is. You might not consider yourself an artist, but it doesn’t have to be perfect (as long as it can somewhat be made out!). By doing so, you can also encourage your child to continue the story about what you’ve drawn. You might want to consider asking questions relevant to your picture such as, “What happened to the dog next?”, “Who else is part of the family?”. If you’re still not convinced about the drawing bit, you can still play this game using picture books, posters or even photographs.

  1. Nursery Rhymes

Nursery rhymes are a very clever learning tool for many different reasons, one of them being introducing new vocabulary to your child. Because of their often-repetitive nature, they can help children gain an understanding of patterns such as different sounds (phonemes) that make up words, as well as introducing them to words they might not hear otherwise. And since nursery rhymes are usually quite short, it’s easy to commit them to memory and sing them together wherever you are – be it on a walk or in the car. You could try missing out words or making up nonsense words to the rhyme, for example, ‘’Hickory Dickory dock, the mouse ran up the tree’’ and encourage them to do the same. Having fun and learning new words!

  1. Create Short Stories Using Puppets

Playing with puppets, dolls, or small world figures can be great fun for toddlers and small children as well as a valuable tool for building vocabulary. Puppets can create a visual way to introduce new words and can spark your child’s imagination. To further build on vocabulary, you may want to tell a short story using the puppets as props and then ask your child to repeat it, to support sequencing and memory skills. This is also a wonderful opportunity for them to build on their storytelling skills too!

  1. Narrate Your Day

Narrating your day can help your child to learn new words, even from a very young age. As you go through your day, you may want to describe what you’re doing, what’s going on around you as well as telling your child what they are doing too. If there are any particular words you know your child doesn’t know yet or struggles with, it may be of benefit to emphasise these. You do not have to narrate your entire day but instead, you might want to focus on commentating on everyday routines such as walking to nursery, for example. This ‘running commentary’ will also help your child to feel secure, knowing what comes next.

  1. Word of the Day

Introducing a word of the day can be an excellent way for your child to learn and retain new vocabulary. If your child is unsure of what the word means, you might want to ask them to guess what it means and then use the word in a sentence for a practical example. As you continue to introduce new words daily, your child can begin to develop a wide range of language that they may not have used otherwise. Try to keep a log of the words you introduce them to and use them often yourself, so that your child can become more familiar with it in different contexts. Don’t forget to add new words to the bank of words already shared. For example, you might have introduced the word’ dog’ say, ‘’Look there’s the dog we saw yesterday. He’s a big, brown dog.’’

Related articles:

Bright Horizons: Speech and Language
Hungry Minds: Activities to Support Early Language and Communication
A Guide to Becoming a Communicator
How to Encourage Your Toddler to Talk

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