New York City kindergarten admission tests require children to have a versatile vocabulary.
Reading books, excursions to Manhattan museums and routine walks around the city provide opportunities to expand your child’s vocabulary. But, what if you’re not exactly sure about effective ways of doing so?
Practice labeling similarities and category naming! Once you start you’ll see how easy it can be to periodically ask your child these types of vocabulary questions.
Place two or more related pictures or objects in front of your child one at a time and encourage him or her to label each one (e.g., cow, pig, chicken).
Then, prompt: “They are all _____”. If your child says “animals,” respond “Yes! They are all animals – what kind of animals are they?”
If your son or daughter doesn’t come up with “farm animals,” provide another cue: “Where do these animals live?”
If the “where” question is too difficult, provide choices (e.g., Does the cow, pig and chicken live on a farm or in the ocean?).
Always provide positive reinforcement. Provide enough hints to allow your child feel successful.
When these games are mastered, try category labeling / similarities without props. You can make up the questions, or try the reference list below.
For motivation, have your child take a turn at a board game (e.g., Candyland) or place two Perfection pieces (with the timer off) after attempting to answer a question. (To celebrate your child’s success, allow the pieces to pop when all the spaces have been filled.)
For a child that would appreciate movement, allow a turn at Twister or make up your own narrative to Hullabaloo (the recording will go too fast to answer your category questions simultaneously). Hullabaloo is a category game in itself!
You can engage your child in category naming / similarities two ways – the first is to list items like: “Trumpet, flute, piano they are all_____.”
The second is to label the category and have your child name three items that fit into the category (e.g., Tell me three things you do in the summer.)
More to try – Name three:
- Things that are sweet
- Parts of your body
- Things you can read
- Things you can eat with a spoon
- Things that are salty
- Things you can write with
- brush your teeth, eat breakfast, get dressed (things you do in the morning)
- car, boat, bike (things that go, things you can take a ride on, vehicles)
- nose, ears, mouth (parts of the face)
- grass, spinach, frog (things that are green)
- Monday, Thursday, Friday (days of the week)
- chair, bed, desk (furniture)
- circle, triangle, square (shapes)
- slide, swing, jungle gym (things you find at the playground)
- shirt, shorts, jacket (things you wear)
- rainy, snowy, sunny (types of weather)
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