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Friday, January 13, 2017

Vivacious Vocab: 5 Playful Ideas to Help Kids Learn New Words

Photo by Jonathan Rolande (Flickr)

As a blog writer, words are my job. They're the foundation of our language, and I'd be lost without them! Words are also important for our kids. I want my girls to develop a vivacious vocab, but I recently read that kids have to meet a new word five to seven times before they memorize it. Wow! Since learning is always more fun when we play, let's encourage our children to discover, use, and learn new words with these five playful ideas.

"Word of the Day" Challenge

Years ago, I kept a daily "word of the day" calendar in my office. My vocabulary really grew that year, and I decided to adopt the same principle for my girls. Instead of a "word of the day" calendar, we use refrigerator magnets. I spell a word from their school vocabulary list, the dictionary, or the newspaper, and they have to use it as often as possible during the day. My girls have fun competing each day to see who can use the word the most often!

Word Scavenger Hunt

The inspiration for a word scavenger hunt actually started when my younger daughter was in preschool. She struggled to read even the simplest words, but since scavenger hunts were one of our favorite hiking activities, I used the game to help her. She copied several easy words from her favorite books onto index cards, and after bed each night, I taped the cards to various spots around the house. In the morning, she had to find, say, and spell the words before breakfast. She sometimes even hid the words for me to find after lunch. While she eventually learned how to read well, this game is still a favorite for school spelling and vocab words.

Spelling Hopscotch

Traditional hopscotch courts include the numbers one through ten, but let's break with tradition for the sake of vocabulary! Spelling hopscotch is a fun game that challenges kids and is perfect for school or everyday learning. To play, draw a hopscotch court or two. Instead of numbers, fill the squares with letters. Your kids jump from letter to letter as they spell their assigned spelling or vocabulary homework or random words you select. They get exercise, have fun, and learn while playing this game.

Comic Strips

My older daughter enjoys writing and illustrating, and her sister likes to color, so I encourage them to use their interests to expand their vocabulary. They learn while having fun! Every week, I challenge my older daughter to incorporate as many new words as possible into a comic strip. She creates the story and draws the illustrations before her sister colors them. Their vocabulary has grown tremendously thanks to this activity, and I've compiled their creations into a scrapbook so we can see how much they've learned.

Dictionary Chase

Reading is one of the best ways to build vocabulary. Since they were born, my girls and I make time every day to read together. While reading, there's always at least one word one of my girls doesn't know, though, so I tell them to go on a dictionary chase. My mom taught me to this activity when I was a girl. Anytime I didn't know what a word means or how to spell it, she told me to look it up in the dictionary. I give my girls the same challenge, and then they have to use the word in a sentence during the day. Our vocabulary has grown tremendously with this fun activity, and my mom loves that she gets the credit for introducing it to us.

In my opinion, the best way to develop a vivacious vocab is through play! Try these five playful ideas as you help your kids discover and use new words. What other games and activities do you use to expand your child's vocabulary?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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