Monday, July 2, 2012

Building Vocabulary Through Play

L loves his wooden block set from Melissa and Doug. I have to admit, I love it, too. It has provided endless hours of creative play. I especially enjoy building something together with my son. It is the perfect invitation for practicing oral communication. 

What are we going to build? What is it going to look like? Which pieces are we going to use? Can you hand me that block that is shaped like a semi-circle? 

You get the idea. We talk back and forth. Blah, blah, blah. 

When you are playing with your child (or communicating with him at any time), try to introduce some new vocabulary. Children are way more likely to learn and retain new words through authentic forms of communication. You may not necessarily talk to your child in "baby talk" (though, I've met some pretty annoying moms who do), but do you use the same language as you would with an older child, or do you "dumb it down?" Children are WAY smarter than we give them credit for. Use sophisticated words, even if you aren't as classy as us. (Did you notice my kid is neither naked, nor wearing his pajamas in this post? Classy, ay?) 

Words below that are in bold are ones that I worked into our conversation during play. I used them several times and never explained the meaning unless he asked, or looked at me with a confused look. 

On this day, we decided to construct a zoo. The zoo needed high walls to contain the animals. 

Lucas put all the animals that he could fit inside the zoo. It was crowded. We had to be careful not to knock the blocks too hard, or else the walls would collapse

He kept taking the animals out of the zoo through the exit, and putting them back in through the entrance. He noticed that the entrance and exit were the same thing (we only built one), but was using the correct words as he played. "Now the alligator is entering the zoo." 

On this day, we invited a friend over to play. The boys worked together with me to construct a parking garage. The purpose of this activity was to get them to cooperate to make something together. The entire time I was encouraging communication between the two of them. 

We built the parking spaces first, then L came up with the idea to add a ramp to each space. Then, of course, we had to add an entrance

Then the boys worked together on building the walls of the garage, because we decided that the garage had to be enclosed, not open. I then wrote color words on post it notes and the boys had to find cars for each space. 

When E brought over a flying vehicle, we decided we needed an H landing pad for a helicopter. 

What does your child like to play? How can you work in some new words today?

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