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Learn All Year Long

Learn All Year Long

Learn All Year Long

Kids and teens should read and write even when they are out of school. Why is this so important?

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Talk it Up! Expanding a Child’s Vocabulary

 

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Talk it Up! Expanding a Child’s Vocabulary

Grades K – 3
Author

Cathy Allen Simon

Cathy Allen Simon

Urbana, Illinois

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

Tip Topic Tips for Teaching Reading
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Why Use This Tip

What To Do

More Ideas to Try

 

Why Use This Tip

All families want their kids to do well at reading and in school.  One way to help emerging readers begin to make sense of what they’re reading is to help them build their vocabulary.  The more words a child knows, the more they will be able to understand what they are listening to and reading, in and out of school.  Asking a child questions and having conversations about interesting words is an easy, comfortable way to integrate new and exciting vocabulary into a beginning reader’s world!

 

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What To Do

Introducing new words to a child doesn’t have to be time consuming; just a quick conversation about a word during a reading or another opportunity can open up a whole new level of understanding for that child.  Be careful in choosing what words to talk about, and make sure that reading doesn’t become a “chore” by turning pleasure reading into a vocabulary lesson.  The best words to explore with a child are words that come up on their own due to the curiosity of the child, and are usually words that are common among adults, but less common in the reading that the child does.

When talking about a new word with the child, be sure to keep the following hints in mind:

  1. Provide a kid-friendly, easy-to-understand definition of the word that you’ve come across or that the child has asked about:
    • Ex: Scrumptious means something that is really, really tasty.
  2. Give the child a kid-friendly example of the word in his/her everyday life:
    • Ex: Remember those scrumptious cookies that Grandma made?  They were so chocolatey and delicious!
  3. Encourage the child to come up with an example of his/her own:
    • Ex: What can you think of that is scrumptious?  Did you eat anything really delicious today?  You're right...that pizza was scrumptious!  I can't wait to eat it again!
  4. Keep using the new word(s) as much as possible at home and while you’re out and about.  Or, make it a challenge and see how many times the child and/or family members can properly use the word in context throughout the day!
  5. Going forward, take advantage of any opportunities to use the new word in conversation to keep introducing the child to the word’s uses. Talk about things you see around town, throughout the neighborhood, or that you see on TV, books, texts, stories, etc.  These real-life examples will help build the child’s understanding of the new word(s).
  6. Use interesting new words with your child that he or she may not have heard or read before:
    • “I know you’d love a snow day tomorrow, but the probability is low.  Maybe next week!” or “Great job on that math test!  You are so intelligent!"

Enjoy watching the child’s new vocabulary grow and the pride he/she feels when she uses a word in the right context!

 

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More Ideas to Try

  • Keep a word list of new words that the child has learned.  Post them in a public place so that other family members and friends can join in the challenge to use the words!
  • Make a dictionary or word journal with all of the words and definitions that the child has learned.

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