Learning new words for toddlers and building their vocabulary when they're learning to say new words is all about exposure and fun. Try these easy toddler play activities to increase their vocabulary!
I find that I always worry about my child’s ability to talk in the early years, and then all of a sudden, it explodes.
Lindsey, of Kiddo Korner, is sharing 6 ways to help increase and expand your child’s vocabulary and support them in learning new words… and doing it through play!
That’s what toddlers are best at, right?
Before you know it, you’ll be beyond your toddler’s first 100 words and then some!
Keep the play coming, and their speech development will follow, I promise.
6 Ways to Increase Your Toddler’s Word Vocabulary through Play
1. Use sensory words to expand your child’s language development
Encourage sensory play where you and your child describe what you see, feel, hear, taste, and smell.
This could be a planned sensory activity, like playing in a sandbox with hidden treasures. But it doesn’t have to be.
Talk with your toddler using the sensory words during any type of play to get your 2 year old used to using these new words in their regular every day conversations and language.
You’ll love how many sensory words are in your toddler’s vocabulary!
2. Explore a variety of environments together to encourage learning new words for toddlers
Everyone loves a little adventure and your toddler is the same.
Take him out for a special adventure to explore a wooded area, new park, beach, or riverfront. Look for different types of birds, bugs, and animals.
Talk about what you see, smell, taste, touch, and hear.
These new environments will excite your 2 year old and give him many new things to talk about. Before or after your exploration, pick up a book about the environment to learn more.
This can really be a vocabulary explosion for learning new words for toddlers!
3. Role play ideas to build and understand words from books
Take ideas or scenes from books and act them out. When you do this with your toddle, soon she will be doing it on her own.
This creates the perfect opportunity for her to use new vocabulary she has learned from the book. The new words she’s learned will be integrated into her own spoken vocabulary as she begins to understand.
4. Encourage your 2 year old to play and talk with children of different ages
Playing with children of different ages helps your toddler try out different roles.
As the older child, your child may be more of a leader. As the younger child, he gets a chance to learn from the older child.
Peer play is great for him to practice his language and social skills, which teaching and mimicking is very useful in learning words for toddlers!
Learning to play with children from different age groups will also give your 2 year old a chance to play in different ways. (Bonus!)
5. Make a wide variety of toys available that require different types of language and words
Your toddler probably has a favorite type of toy to play with. Right now, my son loves vehicles and balls.
Even though those are his favorites, I try to have a variety of toys to play with.
Different types of toys require children to use different types of words during play, which leads to expanding on their current vocabulary.
Playing with farm toys encourages children to use words like cow, puppy, barn, tractor and so on.
While playing with vehicles may encourage a child to use words such as cement mixer, road, bridge, trailer etc.
Having a variety of toys available helps children to develop specialized language for each toy theme.
I encourage you to include what your child already likes and is interested in and adding it into new surroundings to play with.
6. Give your toddler time to play with you… and play alone to practice!
Playing with your child gives her a great example of how to play. Plus, you can teach many vocabulary words at this time, as we’ve shown in the first 5 ways to build on your toddlers learning words.
It is also important that toddlers have some time to play by themselves.
This gives your toddler time to practice language on her own. Your 2 year old can explore different items that seem interesting and try out those new words she’s been learning with. This also allows her to explore her own imagination as she directs the play.
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What new words has your toddler learned recently?
Lindsay Drewes is a former 4th and 5th-grade teacher, current stay-at-home-mom and Mompreneur of www.KiddoKorner.com. Lindsay holds both a bachelor's and master's degree in education. As founder of KiddoKorner.com, Lindsay followed her passion of mothering to research and offer the best educational, Eco-friendly and innovative products made for babies and toddlers.