Expressive Language

Hands-on Learning Games: Improve Your Child’s Vocabulary

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This hands-on learning game is great for improving your child's vocabulary. A game that is easy to make and fun to play, both gifted children and children who have speech delays will benefit from playing.

Parents whose children suffer from language delays can use this game to help build up their child's everyday vocabulary, or to teach new concepts.

Often children who have language delays have trouble learning and recalling the names of common objects. This results from a weak auditory memory. They may also speak in very simple sentences, and struggle in general to express themselves.

On the other hand, many children with language delays are great spatially, and have good visual memories. They are often able to find their way around easily, are good at finding lost items. They may also be talented in fields like dance, sports, or building things.

Because this game uses your child's strong visual memory to help bolster his weak auditory skills, your child will actually acquire and retain what he learns. Seeing the actual object is a strong reinforcer for him, especially if it is something found in his house.

Parents of gifted children will also find this game useful. You can use this game as a springboard for new concepts. If your gifted child is still too young to read, you can use the cards and pictures to teach her the names of various things, such as the parts of a flower, the names of common trees, or unusual parts of the body.

If your child can already read, she can use the game alone as an introduction to material she will read later on.


Index cards with box

How to Make the Game:

If you'd like to teach common household objects, make a card for each object you'd like to teach. All words should be items that you actually have in the house. You can use also use this game to teach transportation, wild animals, parts of the body, names of different types of trees, or practically anything else. For less common items, you can use miniatures, or pictures of the actual object pasted onto an index card.

1) Choose your items. Make a list of about ten items. Write clearly in print the name of the object; the word should be at least 1 1/2 inches long. It's probably easier and quicker to type it, and print it out on cardstock.

2)Read a card out loud. Choose one card, and read it aloud to your child. Then ask your child to find the object. If the child has difficulty, show them where the object is, and have them place the card next to or on top of the item.

3)Play with no more than 10-15 cards at a time. No more than 20% of the cards you use should be new to your child. If these are all new vocabulary, then start with 5 cards, adding more only when your child knows nearly all of them.

Tip: You can also learn actions this way; read the card out loud, and show the child the action that goes with it. Don't limit yourself to walk, run, and skip. Try out dribble, slouch, or saunter for a change. If you show your child what you mean, these words need not be harder than any other.

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