How to Build Your Child’s Vocabulary

Build Your Child's Vocabulary | Tell and Spell

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Learning new vocabulary doesn’t have to be a chore. Simple strategies can be incorporated into your child’s everyday routines and activities. Here are some suggestions for children aged 5+.

Language Strategies

Add Language

Adding language to your everyday activities and experiences, increases the amount of language your child hears. Think of all the new words your child can learn while baking for example (rolling pin, spatula, measuring jug, weighing scales, sieve). Everyday activities provide endless opportunities for learning language.

Use a Variety of Words

Use a variety of words with your child. Build on your child’s vocabulary by using more sophisticated words. For example, if your child uses the word ‘big’, introduce words such as ‘huge/enormous/colossal’.

Repeat New Words Regularly

Your child will need to hear a new word many different times and in many different contexts before understanding its meaning. The more opportunities children have at hearing a new word, the more likely they are to add it to their vocabulary.

Language Activities

Word of the Day

Introduce a word of the day. Discuss the meaning of the word, what type of word it is, and how you spell it. See how many times you can use it throughout your day. Practise using it in different sentences.

Keep a Notebook

Build Your Child's Vocabulary | Tell and Spell

Older children can start a notebook for new words learned through conversation and book reading. Encourage them to look up meanings in the dictionary and write the definitions in their own words. Revise the notebook regularly.

Read with Your Child

One of the best ways to improve your child’s vocabulary is to read together. Shared reading provides opportunities for conversation, active engagement, and discussion of new vocabulary. Join your local library (it’s free!) and find books that interest your child.

Play

Everyday play provides children with opportunities to learn new vocabulary. Play also supports their social and emotional development, critical thinking skills, problem solving, and creativity.

Language and Literacy Games for 5+

When learning is fun and engaging, children are more likely to remember the content. Try some of the games outlined below to get your child excited about adding new words to their lexicon.

Tell & Spell Word Games

Tell and Spell Word Games | Build Your Child's Vocabulary

Play the ‘Tell & Spell’ word games with your child. Tell & Spell can be played anytime, anywhere. Improve your child’s overall vocabulary and spelling ability.

Scavenger Hunts

Go on a scavenger hunt. Grab a pen and paper and make a simple scavenger hunt for your child. Include lots of different concepts:

  • Colours e.g. ‘Find something red/yellow/ blue’.
  • Adjectives e.g. ‘Find something big/small, long/short’.
  • Letters & Sounds e.g. ‘Find something beginning with the letter ‘b’.
  • Shapes e.g. ‘Find something round/square’.
  • Object Function e.g. ‘Find something we write with’.

I Spy

‘I spy’ is a great game to get your child thinking about words and letters. With younger children, focus on the letter sounds they are learning in school to reinforce their letter/ sound knowledge.

Rhyming Games

Play a rhyming game with your child. I spy with my little eye, something that sounds like ‘bye’…..‘sky’. The ability to recognise and produce rhyme is one of the foundations of learning to read.

Categories

Using a timer, pick a category and have your child name as many items as they can from that category. Discuss and expand on new words with your child.

  • Name 10 fruits
  • Name 10 zoo animals
  • Name 10 kitchen utensils
  • Name 5 household appliances

Family Games

Build Your Child's Vocabulary | Tell and Spell

Play some word games as a family. ‘Headbanz’ and ‘Charades for Kids’ are two great games that work on a child’s vocabulary skills.

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Celebrate Halloween with our free Tell & Spell Halloween themed activity sheets. Tell and Spell online word games can be used to build vocabulary and improve overall spelling ability.

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