10 activities to develop vocabulary in preschoolers and toddlers

Hearing your baby say their first word is one of the most exciting and memorable moments as a parent.

Children usually say their first word at 10 to 14 months of age. The first word is usually simple and relates to something important to them, such as “mom”, “dad” or “milk”.

As they start talking more and more, they develop their vocabulary and learn new words quickly.

But what comes after the first word?

How do we as parents and teachers help expand their vocabulary? Here are some tips.

Print word cards and pictures

Give children a fun way to start building their vocabulary by printing out the word cards and pictures.

For example, our list of opposite words for children. The worksheet contains 11 different pictures with opposites to help children better understand opposites and how to express them.

Talk to your child a lot

The more you talk to your child, the more they are exposed to different words and expressions. Be sure to speak clearly and simply so they can hear and understand what you are saying.

Read books

Reading books with your child can help them develop their vocabulary and learn new words. Choose books with pictures and discuss what happens on each page.

Listen to music

Music is a great way to learn new words and phrases. Sing along with your child to songs and games that include simple nursery rhymes and rhymes.

Encourage conversation

Encourage your child to talk, and ask questions to get them to think of new words and phrases. If they ask something, answer in a way that helps them learn new words.

Encourage the learning of multiple languages

If you speak several languages in the family, encourage your child to learn several languages. Being exposed to multiple languages can help them develop a stronger vocabulary.

By talking to your child a lot, reading books, listening to music, and encouraging conversation, and learning multiple languages, you can help your child develop a strong and versatile vocabulary.

Improving vocabulary through daily routines

In addition to the activities mentioned, integrating vocabulary development into everyday play and routines can be incredibly effective. Engaging in regular, everyday activities can provide numerous teachable moments without making learning feel forced or tedious.

During mealtime, talk about the different foods, their tastes, textures, and colors. Bath time can be a chance to discuss body parts, actions (like pouring and scrubbing), and opposites like hot and cold, wet and dry.

activities to develop preschoolers' and toddlers vocabulary

Incorporate vocabulary in playtime

Utilize playtime as an opportunity to introduce new words. For example, when playing with toy animals, describe their colors, sizes, and the sounds they make. This can be both fun and educational, allowing children to associate words with objects and concepts.

Interactive activities for vocabulary growth

Create interactive activities that encourage your child to use new words. This can include treasure hunts with verbal clues, storytelling sessions where you both create a story together, or simple science experiments that allow you to introduce terms like float, sink, mix, or dissolve.

Encouragement and positive reinforcement

Always encourage your child’s efforts to use new words and phrases, even if they make mistakes. Positive reinforcement can boost their confidence and motivate them to keep learning and experimenting with language.

Remember, the goal is to make learning a natural and enjoyable part of your child’s daily life.

By incorporating vocabulary development into play and daily routines, you create a rich language environment that supports your child’s communication skills and cognitive development.