Increasing Vocabulary in Children

by Mary Ann Donovan, Speech Language Pathologist

Children are always learning new words and adding them to their mental dictionary.

Sometimes words stick easily, and other times they seem to disappear.

Here are some ideas to develop vocabulary and help words stick!

  1. Use the word in context: Use words in the environment in which it would typically be used, particularly in the ‘here and now’. For example, use the word garage when you are playing with cars, or driving into or by a garage.

  2. Talk about categories: Choose times when you are together (i.e., while driving during meals) to think about categories. Provide a category (i.e., animals, vehicles, clothing, fruits, etc…) and have your child think of as many things as they can that belong in that category.

  3. Play outside: Explore some of the many outdoor senses (sounds, tastes, smells) and use these to find similarities and differences in nature. You could find rocks that are of a similar texture, or flowers with different smells, or hear the difference in loudness between tossing a small snowball against the wall versus a big snowball.

  4. Read books

  • Read a familiar book, and rather than reading the story, look at the pictures and label what you see (objects and actions). You can ask your child to point to certain objects/items, talk about the characters and the emotions (do they look happy/sad; why?), and ask questions about the picture, etc.

  • Read a familiar book and insert pauses so that your child can try to say one of the words in the story. You can model a word if your child is unable to do this on their own.

  • Read books on different topics to expose your child to a variety of new vocabulary words.

  • Read books on the same topics to expose your child to the same vocabulary words in different ways.

  • Read books with repetitive phrases, so that your child has lots of opportunity participate in reading and try the phrase on their own.

Want more tips for teaching children vocabulary and improving speech?

Come see Mary Ann at our Reactive Health location in Charlottetown!

☎️ (902) 370-3146


📍78 Euston St, Charlottetown

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