My baby, well technically she’s a toddler, has started to jabber like crazy. She’s started saying my name, too. She says “mama” so sweetly and kindly. She can also say “There you go” and “That’s the turtle”. All bragging aside, she also needs to learn a few more words. So, we’ve started spending time together building her vocabulary. I thought I’d share her favorite toddler vocabulary play activities.
Activity 1: Cookie Cutter Naming
Develop toddler’s vocabulary in a fun and interesting way.
Get out all available cookie cutters and a container for the cookie cutters to go into.
First, let the toddler have the joy of dumping the cookie cutters out of the container. Toddlers love to take things out and put them in again, so let the toddler enjoy this moment. This is also building gross motor control.
Next, pick up a cookie cutter and name the shape. We used a Wilton 100 piece assorted cookie cutter collection and had all sorts of shapes to name. Place the cookie cutter into the container. After all the cookie cutters are in the container, let the toddler dump it out again.
Finally, let the toddler pick up the cookie cutter and then have the parent/caregiver name it. Then have the toddler place it in the container. Repeat as often as the toddler’s patience will allow.
This activity can be modified to focus on colors, numbers, living things, or any other category that the caregiver wants to focus on – it just depends on the selection of cookie cutters available.
This game helps the toddler start to put words with things and create more of a concrete association between words and items. It’s also a fun way to play with the toddler’s built in desire to put things in and out of containers.
Activity 2: Naming Picture Book Illustrations
Objective: Develop toddler’s vocabulary as well as interest in books
Preparation: Gather four or five short picture books, with great illustrations
Instead of reading the actual story, look at each picture with the toddler. Take the toddler’s hand and help the toddler point to the different things in the picture while naming the objects. Once the book has been looked through and the pictures named once, read the story to the toddler. Then move onto the next story. Repeat the method as often as the toddler’s patience will allow.
When working to develop vocabulary, it’s important to remember that understanding comes a long time before actual vocalizing of the new words. Don’t be discouraged if the toddler isn’t saying or repeating the words in these activities. The toddler’s vocal vocabulary will develop with time. The understanding and comprehension of the words is almost as important as the actual vocalizing. Also, the more words a toddler hears, the larger the toddler’s comprehension vocabulary will be. The larger the comprehension vocabulary is, the larger the vocalized vocabulary will be.
Above all, remember to have fun with these activities. The more relaxed and enjoyable the activity the better learning can go on and the more willing the toddler will be to do it again. And it’s the repetition that will build the vocabulary of the toddler more than anything else.