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Using a Variety of Words

Week 1: Names When we’re helping our child learn new words and express themselves, names for things (or nouns) are some of the easiest words to expose our children to. Once our little ones have learned some basic names, you can expand their knowledge by telling them about the parts of an object. For example, when talking about a dog you can talk about his paws and his fur, which parts of a dog are similar to our bodies, and which parts are different? It’s easy to get into a trap of only giving our children names for things and we can easily forget about other types of words like action words or describing words. Check out the other communication corner tips this month for ways to build these words into your child’s vocabulary.

Week 2: Describing words Describing words make our language rich and interesting and are great fun to talk about. The best describing words to discuss with your children are the ones we don’t use so commonly. So, we don’t need to discuss the word ‘big’ with our children, that word is very common and they probably already know how and when to use it. A better word would be ‘gigantic’. Many children’s books have great describing words you can discuss with your children. A favourite of mine at the moment is ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ by Julia Donaldson. This uses words like ‘tiny’ and ‘pokey’. When introducing a new word like this, ask your child questions such as “can you think of something tiny?” or “which one is tiny, an elephant or a ladybug?”. What describing words can you use today?

Week 3: Action words Action words, also known as verbs, are words about ‘doing’ something. Words like ‘kick’, ‘jump’ and ‘fly’. A great way to introduce these words is to get out into the garden or the playground and get our bodies moving! We can talking about ‘sliding’ or ‘swinging’, but we can also talk about different ways of moving. Perhaps instead of ‘walking’ to the swings, you can ‘tip-toe’ or ‘sneak’ to the swings. To build your child’s vocabulary, instead of talking about ‘running’ around, you could talk about ‘sprinting’ or ‘dashing’ around. Can you think of some more action words to use at the park? These activities will build your child’s vocabulary and gross motor skills as well as burning some energy!

Week 4: Feeling words Feeling words are those which describe emotions, words like ‘joyful’, ‘upset’ and ‘tired’. Books are a great way of learning about feeling words. When reading with your little one, stop and ask them how a character is feeling and why they might be feeling this way. Think about the words that you’re using, can we use a more specific word instead? For example, instead of simply saying they feel ‘sad’, we could use ‘disappointed’ or ‘hurt’. Instead of saying ‘happy’, we could say ‘excited’, ‘joyful’ or ‘content’. These sorts of discussions build vocabulary, but also theory of mind. Check out last month’s communication corner for more information about theory of mind.

Written by Bec Clinician Newcastle Speech Pathology

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