An adult plays with the child with familiar items and toys, such as dolls, blanket, bottle, cars, and different types of blocks. Listen to the words the child uses spontaneously during play.
If the child doesn’t label items, the adult can prompt by giving choices or offering a suggestion. For example: “Do you want to play with your baby or the blocks?” (See what the child is looking at when responding to make sure of comprehension.); “My baby is sleepy. Is your baby hungry or sleepy?” (See what the child answers and then does with the doll). Then comment, “She is sleepy. She needs a nap.” When the blocks fall down, say, “Oh, no! What happened?” (Allow child to respond.) “Do you need more blocks?” “Where should I put it?”
The child recognizes that different sizes or types of dolls are all called “baby” and different sizes, textures, and colors of blocks are all called “blocks.”
The child comprehends new words every day. Early childhood educators and parents can consciously increase vocabulary by emphasizing and illustrating words for objects, actions, and descriptions that are frequently seen or used in the child’s environment. For example, when the child breaks a cracker, the adult holds up the pieces and says, “Uh oh! Broken!” This illustrates the description and emphasizes the word that conveys the meaning. Adults can also model use of position words, emphasizing the preposition. “I’m putting it on the table.”
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
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