If you are the parent of a young
reader, you will notice that they bring many small books to read at home. These
books are written to support early and emergent readers. Through these books,
young readers learn to recognize hundreds of new words, but they already know
most of the meanings of the words. They are in their everyday spoken or
In upper grades, your children will
come into contact with many unfamiliar words. They will be required to recognize
them, but they will also have to learn the meanings of these new words. Here's
how you can help your child gain understanding of new vocabulary:
Read aloud to
your child and discuss the story vocabulary. Select books that are just beyond
the reach of your reader, ones that they are not able to read yet. This
stretches their understanding of the language used in literature.
down to your child. Use words that build their vocabulary. Research shows that
if a child has a word in their listening vocabulary, they will have an easier
time decoding an unfamiliar word. In other words, a "heard word" will
make sense in the context of the text and they will almost automatically try
games to develop understanding. You may want to look at
Jeopardy Drive for Junior Jeopardy games and focus on spelling patterns at the same
time. Here are more suggestions that are also good to use in the car when your
children are tired of riding!
and Label: Label everything in a room in five minutes, taking turns. The
goal is to maintain and increase speed and the number of words, or to make the
list as long as possible. You may want younger children to point to or touch the
labeled item to check for accuracy. This game ends when you either run out of
time or words!
Together: List objects in a category, taking turns. Sample categories: types of
cars, vegetables, winter words, holidays, emotion descriptors, sports, toys,
etc. The game is over when one player runs out of words.
a Tale: Ask
your child to think of three words for you to use in creating an oral story.
After you finish telling your story and modeling the process, give your child
three words to use in making up a story. Stop when they get tired of playing or
run out of ideas. You don't want to overdo a good thing!
I don't know where I got this one, but kids love it. A frumdiddle is a secret
object. Think of a "frumdiddle," provide clues to its identification
and ask your child to guess what it is. Give just one clue at a time and let
them guess. Use "in your face" or obvious clues to start with and when
they get better at the game, you can use more discreet or obscure clues. Use
what teachers call $100 words in your clues to expand their vocabulary (a
thesaurus helps). When your child guesses the secret object, exclaim, "Frumdiddle!"