This summer I had the pleasure of working in an Early Childhood Special Education classroom just down the hall from me. I learned a lot in just a few short months and brought a few new ideas back to my School Readiness classes this fall.
One of the ideas I added to my class this year is interactive vocabulary. Intrigued? So was I!
Here's what I do: I pick eight to ten vocabulary words for each unit. I create a card with a picture cue and a label for each word. These cards are stored in a pocket chart near our circle area.
My units are usually three weeks long, so the schedule breaks down like this.
The first week is spent practicing the words two times together. I hold up the card or use a pointer, and we practice as a whole class.
The second week I add objects that represent each vocabulary word. I use toys or miniatures that I have collected (no bigger than your hand) and store them in a picnic basket. As a whole group, we play various games to further our exposure to these words.
During the third week I add direction words such as "under," "on," "in," and "next to." We play games that encourage students to put the object under the bucket, next to the mat, in the box, and so forth.
During our last unit I observed as the following scene unfolded:
After snack, Anna and Marie are invited to pick an activity from the reading and listening area or the puzzle area. Anna heads toward the picnic basket and Marie follows. Anna brings the basket to the carpet and finds a spot to sit. She then goes to get the ten vocabulary word cards from the pocket chart and lays them out on the carpet just like when we work as a whole group.
Anna tells Marie to “find a colored square.” In the meantime, Patty and Robin, who are close by with pointers, decide to join in. Anna again tells them to “find a colored square.”
As Anna plays teacher, she calls on Marie to come to the basket and find its matching word card. This continues with Patty and Robin until all of the words have been matched. They are talking to each other and identifying each word with almost 100% accuracy!
This is a fun, interactive, and independence-building way to help expand vocabulary for all levels of learners.