Vocabulary begins to grow quickly in preschool as children discover new things in their young lives and learn to use words that name those things or provide more clarity to the child’s interactions with others. The English language is complex and contains elements of many other languages, and all of that combines to show us how important a strong vocabulary is for being understood. These 3 simple play-based activities feel like games but work like academic lessons, each with a proven track record that spans hundreds or even thousands of years.
- Sing Alongs
Language is an amazing human development that begins to flourish in Montessori preschool, and learning words and phrases through group song and dance activities have been used for thousands of years. Songs teach children to name their body parts, help them discover the animals found on a farm, and explore caves and mountains and everything in between. During sing-along activities, children can watch other kids as they sing the songs, watching how their mouths move to make sounds that may still be difficult for others.
- I Saw a Blank Bird
There are all sorts of vocabulary games to play or make up some of your own. For this game, children simply begin the sentence with “I saw a” and finish with a descriptive word and “bird.” “Bird” can be any word, allowing children to exercise their vocabulary by talking about many different subjects. Don’t try to be especially focused on the parts of speech, and let the children amuse themselves with eccentric word combinations. You can even turn the activity into an art project by asking children to draw or paint the things they “see.”
- Rhyme Time
Using rhyming games helps children develop critical thinking skills, practice word pronunciation, and build stronger, more colorful vocabularies. This is especially good for developing vocal skills, but rhyming games can also compare synonyms and antonyms which are valuable parts of the English language. Most early reader books use rhyme to reinforce concepts and make the story more exciting, and books are easy to revisit if a story is particularly engaging.
A strong vocabulary makes an impressive statement. When children have the words to express themselves in a more precise manner, new avenues of discovery and knowledge open up, a love for words that they can follow for the rest of their lives. More than any other academic subject, language is a vital key to learning everything else, and it begins with a strong vocabulary.