July 11, 2016

When school is out for the summer, learning shouldn’t have to stop with it. Every day can be a learning opportunity when it comes to growing your preschoolers' vocabulary skills. Summer is a great time to model new vocabulary found in everyday activities and surroundings.

Try the following summer activities for kids to continue your child’s language skills: 

1. Make reading a daily priority: Set a time aside each day to read to your children, or have your child read a book. This can be a quiet time after lunch, or before bed. Download, buy, or check out books related to summertime, and take them with you on your road trip. The best way for your children to grow their vocabulary is to read it in a book, so schedule plenty of reading time this summer for your kids. 

2. Organize a neighborhood or friend book club: Continuing from the above strategy, try to create a neighborhood book club with your child’s friends. Work with the parents of your children’s peers to choose appropriate books and organize weekly “meetings” to help the kids talk about the book and to discuss interesting words from the book.  

3. Free printable worksheets for kids: Give your child direct practice with vocabulary worksheets. Choose worksheets that also help your child to practice tracing and writing letters, and include pictures to help them learn to recognize the sight word that is being introduced. Work with your kids one-on-one to ensure their success. 

4. Word of the week: Each week of summer, give your children a new vocabulary word and define it for them. Post it on the refrigerator, or in a central location in the house. Each time your child uses that word correctly add, a set amount of change (maybe a quarter) to a jar. At the end of the summer, add up the change and have your child pick out a small prize to buy with the money. Hint: you might want to put a limit on how many times the word can be used per day! 

5. Summer activities journal: Have your children keep a journal of all the fun activities they do over the summer. This can even be a picture journal. Have them incorporate the word of the week in their journal entries, and challenge them to create a pictorial image of the vocabulary word. For example, if the word of the week is “ultraviolet”, have them draw a sun with rays in whatever outdoor activity they are trying to depict. 

6. Download vocabulary apps for your phone or tablet: Your child can continue to build his/her vocabulary even on vacation! Download quality vocabulary apps that engage your child in an interactive game. Quality apps will include a lot of repetition to give young learners more practice with the same skills. Also look for apps that are colorful and include catchy images to keep your child engaged. 

7. Homophone games: Homophones are words that sound the same but have different spelling and meanings. (Example: meat/meet; stairs/stares) Help your child make a chart. Using objects around the house as inspiration, and whenever they have an idea, have them write down any homophone pair they come up with. Make this a contest, and whoever lists the most pairs at the end of the summer wins a prize. For older children, have them identify homonyms, or pairs of words that have the same sound and spelling, but different meanings. 

8. Use your sense of humor: Related to the homophone contest above, share jokes with your kids that utilize puns, or a play on words that have different meanings. (Example: What do you call an alligator in a vest? And investigator!) Share jokes together and have them create a meme or illustration demonstrating the pun or joke. 

By turning vocabulary into a game or a prized part of the day, your kids will continue to build vocabulary and language skills over the summer. Using the above strategies, kids will be poised to go back to school in the fall with an arsenal of new words.