Five Ideas for Increasing Your Child’s Vocabulary While Running Errands

Want to help your child learn more words? Do you also want to keep them occupied while traveling to the grocery store, around town on errands, or even on vacation? Here are five word games for increasing your child’s vocabulary and avoiding the “Are we there yet?” question.

1. “Find the next letter”. This game works well with small children learning the alphabet. Have your child look for the letters in the alphabet in the proper sequence on road signs, billboards, license plates, and business signs. As they gain confidence with the game, you might introduce a time element. Can they find all twenty-six letters before you reach your destination?

2. “I’m thinking of a …. letter word.” Start this game with short three or four letter words. One player thinks of a word and then announces how many letters are in the word. The other players then guess a word. The first player then compares the guess word with the word he is thinking of to see what letters match exactly in their placement in the game word. The first player then announces how many letters match exactly. For example, if the game word is love and the guess word is sale, then there is one letter (e) of the guess word in the exactly matching position as in the game word. So the first player announces “1 letter”. Now the other players in turn try to determine which letter is a match by a process of elimination. To see if the first letter was the match, a player might guess suit. When no letters match, the next player might try to eliminate the second letter as the matching letter and so on. The player who correctly identifies the word wins and is the next one to think up a new game word.

3. “Alphabet words” Each player must come up with a word which begins with the next letter in the alphabet when it is their turn. You can make this more challenging by giving a category for the words like only animals or only verbs.

4. Use index cards to make flashcards of the new words your child is learning. Have your child shuffle the cards and study each card for the word and its meaning. Quiz your child by holding up the card and having the child tell you what the definition of the word is.

5. Bring books and magazines for your child to read while you drive. Let them pick out topics they like. New topics and authors will expand their vocabulary. Have them read silently or aloud. Both will help develop their skills as a reader.

These activities will increase your child’s vocabulary, letter recognition, print awareness, spelling, and print motivation (the desire to read) which are some of the early literacy skills which make for a firm foundation for reading. They are also a fun way to pass the time. Enjoy!

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