Preschool Vocabulary Activities and Age Appropriate Exercises
written by: Keren Perles
• edited by: Amanda Grove
• updated: 9/11/2012
You may think that preschoolers are not learning much in terms of vocabulary, but actually, the opposite is true. Kids learn basic vocabulary long before they read their first books. Being actively engaged in preschool vocabulary exercises can give them the knowledge they need to succeed later on.
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Why Teach Vocabulary?
Why should you teach vocabulary at the preschool level? In fact, research shows that the fastest acquisition of language - or vocabulary - happens during the preschool years, and even before that. At this early age, kids are learning language at an incredible rate, and being actively engaged in learning increases the chances that they will learn enough vocabulary to help them succeed later in life. You can keep them actively engaged in learning vocabulary by introducing them to fun vocabulary activities that help them practice using age-appropriate vocabulary.
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Adjective Vocabulary Activities
There may not be any specific vocabulary curriculum for preschoolers, but young children are constantly learning new words. You can encourage this by designing preschool vocabulary exercises that teach new vocabulary and review words that students may already know.
Some preschool vocabulary activities focus on adjectives. For example, you could give students a large number of objects and have them work together to categorize the objects. You'll probably need to help them at first. Suggest categories such as big, bigger, and biggest at first; then move to color-based categories (if children know their colors) or categories like bumpy and smooth or soft and hard.
If students are having a difficult time describing an object based on non-visual aspects, try putting several objects inside of a box and asking students to take turns feeling them without looking. Have them use words to describe how the objects feel. For example, the branch of a pine tree might feel prickly, and a furry stuffed animal might feel soft or squishy. These preschool vocabulary activities about adjectives can give students the confidence to use a greater range of words.
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Noun Vocabulary Activity
To review noun vocabulary, students can make their own vocabulary books. Give students plenty of magazines and let them cut out pictures of objects that they know. They can then paste each picture onto a separate page or make a few collage pages. Either way, they can "read" the books themselves by naming all of the objects on the page. Encourage students to branch out beyond pictures of toys by cutting out objects from nature, furniture, vehicles, and other categories of words they might be familiar with.
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Verb Vocabulary Activity
You can also try some verb activities for students. Verbs are action words, so to teach preschoolers verbs that they can use, let them act out each one. Try a game like "Teacher Says," in which you give students various directions. Examples might be "Teacher says...jump up and down" or "Teacher says...crawl under the table." Use as many different verbs as possible, such as run, jump, hop, skip, gallop, crawl, walk, kick, dance, wave, smile, frown, sit, stand, sing, clap, tap, spin, and stomp. You may also try some more difficult verbs, such as slither, jiggle, or glide.
You can make this activity more challenging by including various adverbs in the directions as well. For example, you might instruct students to walk first slowly and then quickly, or they might lift their arms up high and then put them down low.
These preschool vocabulary exercises will help students learn new words and become more comfortable with the ones they already know. Try to use these words in as many different context as possible in order to reinforce them in the students' minds.