Build Your Child’s Vocabulary! Top Speech Therapy Activities

Speech Therapy Activities - Vocabulary Development

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Speech therapy activities often work to improve a child’s understanding of language. If you’ve read our recent posts on boosting expressive language and receptive language skills in children, you’ve probably already realized that vocabulary has a lot to do with those crucial areas. After all, how can your youngster follow your direction to “Stop aggravating your sister, Billy!” when he does not yet understand the word “aggravating”? Before jumping to the conclusion that your tiny tot is in a rebellious stage and is purposefully trying not to follow directions, consider whether he understands the vocab you’re using.

Building a child’s vocabulary probably sounds like a tedious task. But you can banish those images in your head of long hours spent doing flashcard drills (unless, of course, your youngster actually – gasp! – enjoys doing flashcards). Building your kidlet’s vocab can – and should – be fun! There are countless games you can play that helps strengthen vocab skills, and I’ve listed a few of them in this post to get you started. As always, it’s important to collaborate with your child’s speech-language pathologist (SLP). She can point you in the right direction for speech therapy activities that suit your child’s needs.

Introducing New Words

Introduce new words gradually so that your youngster doesn’t become overwhelmed with a bunch of unfamiliar terms. When you use a word, provide a simple definition that you know your child can understand. For example, you can tell your child that “aggravating” means “annoying,” but only if your child already understands the definition of “annoying.” Instead, you might tell your child that he’s doing something that his sister doesn’t like. You may need to define each word for him repetitively until he seems to grasp it.

Reinforcing new Words

Reinforce new words so that he remembers the meanings. One great way to do this is simply to scatter them throughout your day-to-day conversations. So while you’re driving your youngster to school, you might say, “This traffic is aggravating me. I don’t like it at all, because now we might be late.”

Encourage your child to use the new words, as well. You could also challenge him to think of words that are similar in meaning to the new word. (Or, ask him to think of words that have the same sounds as the new word for another quick speech therapy activity.) Continue to use the new words in various contexts throughout the following few weeks to help reinforce the meanings.

Speech Therapy Activities – Play Some Games!

And last but certainly not least, play some games! For some vocab games, all you need is paper (or an activity book) and a pencil. Create a hangman game with a new vocab word, or do a word find puzzle with your child. Just remember to define each new word in the puzzles or hangman games, give your child an example of the word in a sentence, and ask him to create his own sentence with the word.

The next time you’re shopping, check out vocab-friendly stuff in the game aisle. Scrabble, Blurt!, and Bananagrams are some good possibilities. If you’re not familiar with those two newer games, Bananagrams is much like Scrabble in that children take tiles from a banana-shaped pouch and create their own crossword puzzles. Blurt! challenges kids to think of words, when given their definitions, as quickly as possible and blurt them out.

As well, use books to expand your child’s vocabulary. Pick out unfamiliar words in the books, ask your child to repeat the words (for articulation practice), and define them for him. You could also turn the lesson into an interactive crafts activity. Draw pictures with your youngster that relate to the book and use the new words within the pictures. (For example, write the words “enormous elephant” next to a picture of an elephant.)

Parents' Guide to Reinforcing Speech Therapy at Home
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