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What are you Doing? Developing Action-Word Vocabulary

Week 1: Play-Doh Cooking

Verbs are words which describe actions, or describe what someone is doing. Words like, ‘run’, ‘push’ and ‘live’. Verbs are super important words. You can’t make a single sentence without one! Our children need a large vocabulary of verbs if they are going to move towards speaking in more complex sentences. This month, we will share some activities that will help promote their knowledge of ‘doing words’.  This week, let’s see what verbs come up as we make play-doh together! All you need is simple recipe like this: As you make the play-doh together, talk about each step. Notice all the verbs that come up? For example, ‘measure’, ‘pour’, ‘stir’, ‘mix’, ‘combine’, ‘add’, ‘knead’, plus many more! Try to do the action as you say the verb. Or say the verbs as your child does the action. This will help your child understand the meaning of the words. What colour play-doh will you make?

Week 2: Play-Doh

Who doesn’t love Play-Doh? It’s a fantastic activity for our little ones and can be a great way to introduce some new verbs to preschoolers. Many little toddlers don’t want to make anything specific with the play-doh and that’s OK. They’re happy just getting their hands dirty! This doesn’t mean you can’t add verbs to the interaction. Talk about how they’re using the play-doh. Are they ‘squishing’ it? Are they ‘rolling’ it? Are they ‘mashing’ or ‘hitting’, ‘stabbing’ or ‘poking’ it? For older children who are trying to make something, they might be ‘carving’ or ‘sculpting’. You can play beside your child and talk about what you’re doing. Make sure to leave room in the conversation for them to respond and try to avoid asking too many questions. Remember to keep it fun! What play-doh creations will you make?

Week 3: Play-Doh Clean Up!

In our last two Communication Corners, we talked about making and playing with play-doh. Both of these activities can get VERY messy! Our little ones are always learning and they can learn verbs in the cleaning up, as easily as in the messing up! While you’re working together to pack up, ask your child to help ‘gather’ all the play-doh. Perhaps there are some cutters and rollers which need ‘washing’. Can your child help by ‘wiping’ the bench or by ‘wrapping’ the play-doh? Remember, these words are all actions, so it’s helpful to do the action while you’re saying the word.

Week 4: Adding specificity

In our Communication Corners this month, we’ve been talking about ways we can add verbs to our child’s lexicon. Most of our examples have been about how to use play-doh for this, but you can expand your child’s verb vocabulary many everyday situations. In English, we often have a common verb like ‘look’ and a group of other verbs with similar, but more specific meanings, like ‘stare’, ‘glare’, ‘gaze’ and ‘observe’. How can you add these words to your little one’s vocabulary? Well, books are a great place to start. This week, I have been reading a lovely old book with my clients called ‘Imagine’ by Alison Lester. It uses fantastic verbs describing how animals move which add a richness to the story and help us visualise the story. Some of the verbs she uses are ‘prowl’ and ‘stampede’.

Written by,

Rebecca Pfenningwerth

Speech Pathologist

Newcastle Speech Pathology

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