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Curious about how to make sure your child develops the vocabulary needed to allow them to flourish as readers? Using fun activities to increase reading vocabulary is one way to grow a confident reader. Reading vocabulary is one skill I worked on daily with my kindergarten children – sometimes unconsciously! As a matter of fact, I bet you’re doing that as well.

What is reading vocabulary?

Reading vocabulary is the number of words that are read and understood. In general, the smaller this vocabulary the more difficult it will be to read.

How can I increase my child’s reading vocabulary?

As can be seen with most things in literacy, the foundation is laid well before children encounter books. For the same reason, what you want to do is give your child lots of exposure to words. When children are exposed to things, it can be words, experiences, foods -the list is endless, they store it in their brain. The more exposure they have the stronger the storage system is and the easier it is for them to retrieve the file when they need to use it. Now, this may be years down the road before they need to access it but if they have had enough experience with the word they are at an advantage. However, unlike a friend who has to build an entirely new storage system in their brain, your child will only have to retrieve what’s already there.

How can help I my child ?

Here are a few activities you can use to increase your child’s reading vocabulary. They are divided into speaking-based (conversational) activities and reading/writing-based (text) activities.


1. Make conversation a priority

2. Play word games like my Sight Words Bingo

3. Expand your vocabulary and use those words

Have purposeful conversations with your child increases the number of words they are exposed to.

4. Don’t dumb down your vocabulary

5. Talk with your child not at

6. Use new words in a variety of contexts – this gives children logs of exposure to the word and context for the meaning.

7. Use synonyms when defining words

8. Choose high-quality video programs and watch them together – talk about what is happening and key in on novel vocabulary


9. Read together

10. Use labels

11. Provide texts other than books for your child to read

Allow your child to illustrate a shared writing piece. This increases their reading vocabulary.

12. Write stories together

13. Create a picture/word wall

14. Point out words in the environment and talk about them

15. Read books that have repetition and rhyme – this encourages children to join in

16. Act out poems, songs or stories read – this helps children to visualize what is happening in a story by deconstructing the vocabulary to be able to act out the events.

Handa's Surprise Book Cover
Linking books to things children do helps to increase reading vocabulary

17. When reading a book link the events to everyday life

18. Model what you are thinking when reading a story – “I wonder why that happened?” “That’s a new word for me, I wonder what it means? Maybe the picture can help me.” This gives children a peek into your thought process when you encounter new words or scenarios.

19. Have shared writing activities about events, trips, stories, etc. Allow your child to tell you what happened as you write then your child can add illustrations.

20. Allow your child to read to you

baa baa black sheep rhyme using rebus for reading vocabulary
Using rebus for reading helps to increase children's reading vocabulary

21. Use a rebus

Teaching Reading Vocabulary Can Be Fun!

All in all, I hope you notice that when working on increasing your child’s reading vocabulary, speaking is a very important component. So be sure to create lots of opportunities for high-quality conversations. Why not choose a word you want to add to their storage system in their brain each week, then purposely plan fun experiences for them to engage with and to be great topics of conversation for you two?

Looking for more tips on reading vocabulary? Check out my post on 4 Simple Ways for Easily Improving the Vocabulary of Kindergarten Children by Using Journals.

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