Developing vocabulary means increasing the number of words a child knows. It also mean developing their comprehension and usage of the words.
Improving Vocabulary Includes:
- Increasing the number of words children know
- Improving their understanding of the words
- Increasing their effective usage of the words
Learning words and what they mean is very important for both speech and reading. It is part of their “language and reading ingredients”. Obviously, if you do not know a word you can’t really say it, use it, or read it. And kids need to learn a lot of words.
There is a great deal of evolving research around young children and words. At this time there is a growing consensus that the research supports that it is not simply the number of words children hear that matters. It is also the variety of words. And more importantly the context, engagement, and human interactivity around the words with a loving caregiver.
Think about that for a moment. The loving, human interactivity around words is the key to language development. In this light it should be clear why all or nearly all of the songs you use in class should be filled with cherished human interactivity.
The Learning Groove songs and stories are designed to be interactive. So they are a wonderful model of this process. However, we hope you will write many of your own engaging interactive songs. And you can use other traditional songs as well.
Knowing that children need to learn many words, parents and teachers often break out word lists and flash cards. For the most part, they don’t work. Can we finally put them away? The reason they do not work is because learning is most effective when it is joyful, meaningful, interactive, engaging, and contextual.
Choosing Songs and Activities for Vocabulary Development
Interactive songs are meaningful and engaging and therefore highly effective tools for naturally increasing vocabulary. Simply singing The Learning Groove songs with children will have this educational benefit.
However, you can select the songs with rich words and sing them. Then ask questions about them and talk about topics with those wonderful words. You can write out some of the key words which you used. You can play word games with the words in the song.
Adapting Songs for Vocabulary Development
We can adapt the songs to be even more effective.
Let’s go back to "Baa Baa Black Sheep". What word group would you like to focus on? How about shapes. Now we have "baa baa round sheep". Or colors, "baa baa blue sheep". It is limitless. Or how about "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star". You can replace little with HUGE. And, now let the kids choose the size of the star and everyone sings.
How can you do this same type of adaptation with I"tsy Bitsy Spider"? What other songs can you adapt to promote vocabulary development?