Games to Play for Vocabulary Development

Children begin their vocabulary development at birth by listening and responding to spoken language, and seeing written words in a book furthers that development even before your child can read. Your child’s improvement in vocabulary skills continues as you introduce new words, and surely you can have more fun than simply directing your child to a dictionary. Engage your child in discussions, use age-appropriate activities and include plenty of repetition to stimulate his vocabulary development.


Reading to your child or encouraging your child to read himself are ideal ways to build vocabulary. When you read to your child, he hears new words that he can define by putting them in the context of the story. Be animated when you read to help your child learn by context. You can make reading time more of a game by asking questions about new words your child hears. Once you give a brief definition of the new word, ask your child to use it in a sentence. If your child is old enough to read on his own, get involved by asking him if he learned any new words or saw a word he hadn’t seen before. Consider setting weekly reading goals, and use a sticker chart to keep track of how much your child reads.

Synonyms and Antonyms

When you teach your child a new word, it is helpful to connect the new word to vocabulary your child already knows, according to Pearson Education 2. One way to use this integration and possibly teach even more new words is to play a game with synonyms and antonyms. Write the new word on a piece of paper and circle it. Around the outside of the circle, write at least one synonym you know your child remembers. Ask him if he can think of any other words that have the same meaning or if he knows a word that means the opposite. You can also ask your child to simply come up with as many words as he can think of that are related to the circled word and explain how the words are related. Additionally, ask your child to come up with synonyms or antonyms for words he uses in a sentence.

Creating Sentences

After your child becomes familiar with a new word, as suggested by Pearson Education, ask him to create a sentence using that word. This technique helps solidify your child’s understanding of a word and gives him practice using it. Give your child a list of words and have him write a short story, and those new words must be included.

Using Pictures

Connecting new vocabulary with pictures is especially useful for younger kids and children in grade school, and visualizing aids memory and helps to gain a true understanding of a new word. Play a matching game in which your child matches a written word to a picture of that word, or instruct your child to draw a picture of a given word.