Did you know that vocabulary size is one of the most reliable predictors of reading skill? New brain research indicates that vocabulary size is correlated with the size and strength of a very important part of the left hemisphere used for symbolic skills-- not just reading but for all subjects that use symbols like math, music, science, even geography.
Try these categorization activities to build vocabulary skills.
CATEGORY BOOKS - ages 2 to 4- Books that feature one category like 'trucks', 'planes' 'colors' etc. are a great way to start your child thinking about categories. Below are some suggestions on how to use the books to teach commonalities, vocabulary and similarities or differences.
TRUCKS - Ask your child to point to all the dump trucks, then moving vans, then six-wheelers etc. As he does this comment on similarities and differences - "Wow, I see three dump trucks but one is red and these are both blue" "Do you see another red truck?" "Let's count the wheels!" Do you see another truck with a tire on the back?"
TOUCH BOOKS - these books stress words of touch like soft and smooth, but you can add a second component like color or class (animals, clothing) to build vocabulary. "A soft bunny...your Teddy bear is soft too." "A furry slipper and fuzzy pajamas....your winter boots are fuzzy inside too."
NAME THAT ______ -ages 5 -10 A fun car game is to take turns naming categories like fruits and vegetables for younger children, kitchen utensils or car names for older children. Take turns picking the category and being the namer. Keep score and see who comes up with the most interesting categories. Add a challenge by having two or more criteria - green vegetables, vintage cars, fruits that grow in Florida. You can also combine categories like fruits and furniture that start with each letter if the alphabet (arm chair and apple, banana and bed, etc.)[Note to grandparents- this last activity is sometimes used as a test of aging -- so this game will keep your brain young!]
WHY? A component of many IQ tests are questions like, "How are an apple and orange alike? How are they different?" the reason is that this is a measure of both vocabulary and mental flexibility. Category games help build both.