Vocabulary is really important for good writing. Unfortunately, many children just don't know enough words! Putting better words in their writing can dramatically improve it and it doesn't have to take long to see the effects either.
Now, you're probably thinking that I'm talking about writing lots of words down every day... nope, I'm not. Why not try some of these...?
For the younger ones:
1. When reading a book - Point out words that they definitely don't use in their writing - example - The boy speeds down the lane. Talk about the fact that speeds means run but it's a better word.
2. In the garden/park - Instead of saying, "Oh look, a butterfly." Say, "Look at that beautiful butterfly fluttering. Can you see the beautiful butterfly flutter? It's fluttering its wings isn't it? Can you say the beautiful butterfly is fluttering its wings?" Notice the repetition? You'll need to use words many times on different occasions for them to sink in. Remember at this stage, it's not important to be able to write the words, but knowing them and eventually using them in speech will make a better writer in the future.
For the older ones:
1. In the car - Can you think of any synonyms (words that mean the same or similar) for....? Give them a sentence to make it easier and give them context for the word. Example - The boy walked down the street. Walked is a boring word. Be careful that they do not try to change the meaning - e.g. The boy ran down the street. You could have The boy traipsed down the street or The boy shuffled down the street. To extend the activity you could then ask, "Why is the boy traipsing down the street? What is the situation?" If they don't know what traipsing looks like, show them (not in the car of course). Once you have thought of a synonym for the sentence, don't stop there. Exhaust the sentence with words for walked. If your child is struggling, suggest some words and get them to say the words. If they let you do all the work, they are not learning the new vocabulary for themselves. The next day, try another sentence where a different word will need changing, Example - The girl tried on the ugly mask. Remember, you will need to keep coming back to the same simple words, using them in a different sentence. Encourage them to remember the new words they learned for the next time around.
2. Outside - Say, "Look at that tree, it's so gnarled and twisted. How would you describe the tree?" If they are struggling, try this, "Could you describe it as bent? How about smooth? Pretty?" When you have established suitable words to use to describe the tree, try using them in a sentence. Remember - don't do all the work! It's good to make suggestions, they can't magically know new words, but, they MUST say them and start using them. Sentence Example - The gnarled and twisted tree is swaying in the wind.
The most important things:
Little and often - before school, on the way home from school, driving to Gran's, walking around the supermarket, before bed, at the dinner table, etc.
Repetition - Just like learning times tables, saying it once is not enough.
Have a question? Could you share sentences your children have thought of or words that they have now learned? Let us know your experiences to help others! Please comment below.