Vocabulary means; a list or collection of words; or of words and phrases usually alphabetically arranged and explained/defined.
How can we help younger children with vocabulary? They may not know how to read yet. Even if they do, they may not be able to understand the new words they are taught. Helping young children to understand the meaning of words builds a foundation for young reader to strengthen their comprehension, broaden their language skills and also in the manner they converse.
Budsy have had parents who come up to us asking how come the boys have acquired good vocabulary at a young age especially since there's the stereotype boy trait, that boys tend to speak later than girls while growing up. Budsy found it imperative to firstly, speak to children in a proper manner and using colourful words from birth onwards. For mothers who believe in the power of communication before birth, they read to their children and/or introduce to them music before they were even born.
Parents can also vary the words they use daily, so children learn new words they can easily relate to in their daily routine. For example, when Budsy clears dinner off the table, the family may take turns to say their thanks for a delicious dinner. On one day, the reply Budsy might come up with might be, "Yes, tonight's dinner was scrumptious indeed. Look at all the plates!" On another day it might go like this. "Mmmm the gravy is delicious today, it must be that special extra ingredient I added in." The older children may reply, "Yes, it's really tasty." or "The gravy is very flavourful." The nightly conversation over dinner may be over the distinctive expressions/references to food or drinks. Over time, the children in Budsy's home became fascinated with these new words dished out whenever possible that when they hear a new word being phrased in a sentence, they will ask what the word(s) mean. The more we use intelligent vocabulary around the children, the more they will learn and understand. Gradually, we can observe that the children will try to include these new words in the right context; in future conversations. In short, we are our children's first models for language.
In Montessori, with many things being taught concretely, it is definitely possible to include concrete lessons even when we are working with the children on word families. With young children acquiring reading skills much earlier these days, it is to their advantage if they could spend time for fun activities for them to learn and understand the meaning behind the words they learn to read, rather than reading for the sake of learning how to read.
In this post, Budsy shares some of the stuff you can do with your children at home, when they have reached the word family stage of the Pink Scheme, using the Montessori Phonics method.
Let's take the words in the 'ab' family for instance...
Lesson for words in the 'ab' family
(1) Likening this game to playing hop-scotch, you can use those alphabet foam mats for the children to hop on. Show them how to hop on the letters that will spell the 3-letter words from the 'ab' family. Children who are kinesthetic learners will benefit most from learning via physical play or if being given opportunities to move around.
(2) Colour a picture of a cab. Cut out a shape of a steering wheel. Design together. Painting, crayon, markers… the choice is yours. Ask children to pretend to be cab drivers. Scatter some letter cards around the house/hall and use the completed steering wheel to drive around to find the letters that spell the three letter phonetic words in the 'ab' family.
You may demonstrate first. "Mummy'll go first!" Pick up the letters as you drive and place them on a word rack, then say the word aloud, for example… "Cab!" c/..../a/.… /b/... (blend the letter sounds as you pick them up)
(3) Painting Time! Dab cotton balls inside the template of the word /dab/. Use word art. Make thicker and chubbier letter with comic sans or century gothic, over A4 paper. You can demonstrate the activity first, showing how to dab the cotton ball beginning with /d/, ie. starting from the curve of the letter d, followed by the straight line from top to bottom.. likewise for the letter a, (shorter wall) and lastly letter b, top to bottom first and followed by the big bouncy belly. Depending if you allow for more painting time, child can paint his own picture using the cotton balls for reward.
Don't want to get those little hands dirty or sticky, you can peg the cotton balls for a fun dabbing experience. For older children, you can consider using chopsticks too.
If using fingers, it'd be a good experience to demonstrate "lightness of touch" whereby only gentle movements can still create the dab effect. This is future preparation for writing, where we encourage children to write neatly without the pressure of fingers and the darkness of a pencil lead.
(4) Place two bowls of coloured water. Allow children to play with syringes of different sizes, transferring water from one bowl to another. While pushing the syringe, say /j/... aaaaaaa.... /b/. (abrupt b sound).
(5) Play catch! Police and thief, perhaps. If you allow for the policeman to run with a baton and handcuff, the policeman can say nab-bed(!) when a thief is caught!
Put the word "nab" on A4 paper to keep track of the points, so you can keep count which police officer "nab-bed" more baddies.
Once in a while, Budsy thinks we can do with all the exercise! LOL!
These are just a few ideas to inspire you on how to carry out hands-on activities with your children at home. Your children will only love you (more) for it! wink emoticon Have fun, you guys!