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How to Increase the Vocabulary With Activities

by Carly Seifert, studioD

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the size of your little one's vocabulary is a predictor of his future reading ability and, ultimately, how well he will do in school. This doesn't mean you need to enroll your 2-year-old in an expensive private preschool or hire a vocabulary tutor for him. By engaging your little one in meaningful interaction throughout his daily activities, you are expanding his vocabulary and preparing him for success during the elementary years.

Read to your child. According to the Early Moments website, reading to your child teaches him the basic sounds that make up words. Your little one is learning words from books when you read aloud to him. Don't limit your reading selections to storybooks, but include magazines, nonfiction information books and print found in everyday life, including cereal boxes, signs and toy packaging. Doing so will introduce him to a variety of new words.

Talk to your child. According to the U.S. Department of Education, children who are spoken to more often during the early childhood years have larger vocabularies than their peers who do not hear as many words during these early moments. Engage your child in conversation by asking open-ended questions and encouraging her to participate in discussions whenever possible. Describe objects to her using vivid imagery as you drive down the road, go for walks or push a cart around the grocery store.

Teach word awareness. You want your child to be conscious of the fact that he has encountered an unfamiliar word -- whether it is a silly nonsense word from a Dr. Seuss book or a fancy medical term he heard his pediatrician use -- so he will want to learn the meaning of the new word. Scholastic.com suggests playing with words using songs, games and humor to draw your child's attention and interest to new words. Praise your child whenever he takes notice of a new word or asks you to define an unfamiliar word to him.

Create a word wall in your child's bedroom or playroom where she can post silly, interesting or new words as she encounters them. Keep stacks of colored paper near the wall, and when she discovers a new word, write the word on a sheet of paper, cut it to size and help her tack it to the wall. Allow her to decorate the wall however she would like -- perhaps illustrating vocabulary words when applicable. Review "old" vocabulary words as you add new words to the wall.

Items you will need
  •  Books
  •  Colored paper
  •  Scissors

About the Author

Carly Seifert has been a piano instructor since 2001. She has also covered adoption and introducing children to the arts for "Montana Parent Magazine." Seifert graduated from University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts in drama.

Photo Credits

  • Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images