Teaching Kids New Words

High Frequency Word Activities for Kindergarten

Word Wall

Word walls are often used in the kindergarten classroom to keep high-frequency words visible at all times. The wall also reinforces the idea of alphabetical order and letter recognition. If your child's classroom has a word wall, you'll likely see a variety of words organized by first letter. According to Scholastic.com, teachers can use word walls effectively by prompting students to use them for spelling and incorporating the word wall into daily activities. You can make your own word wall at home for extra practice at the kindergarten sight words. Write words that come up frequently, such as "I," "you" and "the" and post them on the wall in your child's bedroom or playroom.


Using the sight words in a game format allows your kindergartener to interact with the words repeatedly. A simple matching game with sight words instead of pictures works well. Make your own with index cards. You can add the sight words to games you already have. For example, tape cards with the words on the circles of a Twister game mat. As your child plays, she has to say the word in each circle she uses. For an outdoor game, write the high-frequency words in sidewalk chalk inside circles. When you call out a word, your child runs to the circle with the matching word.


Reading activities allow your kindergartener to see the high-frequency words in action. She hears the words each time you read the text. Point out the words after reading a page so she sees them in addition to hearing them. For books with simple text, point to the words as you read so your kindergartener can read along with you. Emphasize those high-frequency words, or ask her after each page whether she heard any of the words you've been practicing.

Building Words

Seeing the high-frequency words is helpful, but physically creating the words can help reinforce them in your kindergartener's mind. Plastic letter magnets work well for creating words. Print the words you want to practice on index cards. Your child arranges the letter magnets in order to create the word herself. If you don't have letter magnets, cut little squares of paper and write letters on them. For a hands-on approach, squirt shaving cream on a cooking sheet so your child can write the word in the cream with her finger. For a less messy approach, have your child shape rolled play clay into the letters of the word.

How to Raise Articulate Children

Getting Started

Babies listen to their mother while they are nursing. Lullabies, books read aloud and silly nursery rhymes that are spoken during this nurturing time are baby's first introduction to the wonderful world of words. One young college student read her textbooks aloud to her infant daughter, enabling interaction and some much needed study at the same time.

Like every other skill, articulation needs practice. Giggling when tickled, babbling, repeating phrases and words, and early speech are all part of articulation. When parents listen and respond to the sounds their baby makes, she is encouraged to make more sounds. Sharing nonsense rhymes, jokes and stories with children of all ages encourages word play which leads to an expanded vocabulary. Riddles exercise logic as well as encouraging wordplay. Telling riddles might be early practice in telling stories.

Bedtime stories have no substitute. Whether they are folk tales that have been handed down for generations or whether they are read aloud from books, a story at bedtime encourages listening skills, and helps children wind down before bed. Children who feel they are too old for bedtime stories might still enjoy listening to an age-appropriate audio book. Audio books model correct pronunciation of words.

While TV should never take the place of personal, interactive communication, educational programs for children can be beneficial. They expand both vocabulary and concepts, giving the child another way to look at the world. Encourage your child to tell you about their educational program right after they have watched it. Recounting the events gives them a chance to practice verbalizing, encourages recall and personalizes the experience.

If you maintain an interest in your child's questions, stories and chatter, you encourage her to practice speaking. This gives her an opportunity to try out new words, to learn to organize thoughts so that others understand them, and to respond to feedback. Encourage your child to write down some of her ideas. Foster word games, singing and any other activity that involves words.

Things You Will Need

  • Age-appropriate books
  • Poetry collections
  • Riddles
  • Audio books

How to Teach Toddlers New Words

Read to your toddler every day. Choose age-appropriate books, and each time you come across a new word your toddler hasn't been exposed to, repeat it a few times and explain what it means. For example, if a character in the story if “frustrated,” explain to your toddler what that means.

Talk to your toddler as much as you can. Talking to your toddler as much as possible not only helps build his vocabulary, it also builds his confidence. No matter where you are or what you're doing, constantly engage your toddler.

Ask your toddler questions that don't require a simple “yes” or “no” answer. These closed-ended questions don't help your toddler learn how to express himself or build his vocabulary. For example, the next time you're on a walk through your neighborhood, ask your toddler where you think a dog owner is taking his puppy or why you think a neighbor painted his home blue.

Arrange play dates with other toddlers. Encourage your tyke to play and talk with the toddler. Your toddler will not only have a great time, but interacting and verbalizing with his peers will also expand his vocabulary.

Engage your toddler's imagination through creative play. Zero to Three recommends parents act out a favorite story or nursery rhyme, or you can come up with your own game. Whatever you choose, encourage your toddler to express himself by leading and telling the story.

Hand your toddler a play phone, or even an old cellular phone, and play an old fashioned game of telephone. Have an enjoyable conversation with your toddler about his day, or simply pretend that you haven't seen each other all weekend and want to catch up. Whatever the topic, pay attention to continue asking open-ended questions and encouraging your toddler to use words.

Things You Will Need

  • Books
  • Toy telephone

How to Increase the Vocabulary With Activities

Read to your child. According to the Early Moments website, reading to your child teaches him the basic sounds that make up words. Your little one is learning words from books when you read aloud to him. Don't limit your reading selections to storybooks, but include magazines, nonfiction information books and print found in everyday life, including cereal boxes, signs and toy packaging. Doing so will introduce him to a variety of new words.

Talk to your child. According to the U.S. Department of Education, children who are spoken to more often during the early childhood years have larger vocabularies than their peers who do not hear as many words during these early moments. Engage your child in conversation by asking open-ended questions and encouraging her to participate in discussions whenever possible. Describe objects to her using vivid imagery as you drive down the road, go for walks or push a cart around the grocery store.

Teach word awareness. You want your child to be conscious of the fact that he has encountered an unfamiliar word -- whether it is a silly nonsense word from a Dr. Seuss book or a fancy medical term he heard his pediatrician use -- so he will want to learn the meaning of the new word. Scholastic.com suggests playing with words using songs, games and humor to draw your child's attention and interest to new words. Praise your child whenever he takes notice of a new word or asks you to define an unfamiliar word to him.

Create a word wall in your child's bedroom or playroom where she can post silly, interesting or new words as she encounters them. Keep stacks of colored paper near the wall, and when she discovers a new word, write the word on a sheet of paper, cut it to size and help her tack it to the wall. Allow her to decorate the wall however she would like -- perhaps illustrating vocabulary words when applicable. Review "old" vocabulary words as you add new words to the wall.

Things You Will Need

  • Books
  • Colored paper
  • Scissors