We know that children need to be exposed to an ever-increasing vocabulary because vocabulary building is critical in developing strong language and communication skills. We also understand the importance of children having at least 12 meaningful encounters with new vocabulary so that new vocabulary has meaning, and use for the children, rather than being an isolated word that does not become part of their communication or support their comprehension.
We have carefully planned a vocabulary list which includes tier 1 words-concept words- as these are words that are essential for language development, and tier 2 words- verbs and descriptors which are found in our story books, as these are transferrable across different contexts and give our children the best opportunity to increase their operational word bank.
We have adopted the ‘Words Aware’ STAR approach and use this daily, planned teaching structure to explicitly teach our children a body of planned vocabulary each week. We teach daily, one concept word and one descriptor/verb from our planned list to our children for a week and use a multi-sensory approach.
Activation of Vocabulary.
Once the children have been taught a new word, we ‘activate’ this word so that it is heard by children, and used by children, in context, across the week in all areas of the setting. Our aim is to give our children at least 12 meaningful encounters with their new word each week. We also share our new vocabulary with parents so that they can extend their child’s exposure and use of the particular words each week whilst at home.
We revisit our taught words frequently, and over long periods of time, to ensure that the planned vocabulary becomes part of each child’s long-term memory. We do not stop using and reminding children of their previous words when we move on to our two new words. Instead, we ‘collect’ our two new words at the end of the week and put them into our vocabulary bag and then frequently pull out a word and activate again with our children. This ensures that we are supporting a growing vocabulary that remains in the long-term memory rather than in the short-term memory.
We have a list of core words that we use when we are discussing and exploring shape with our children. This list of words is used continually across the year and the words are included in the vocabulary bag that is frequently revisited. This enables our children to discuss and describe shape using a full and descriptive vocabulary.
We use opportunities within our daily story reading sessions and within our reference book selection to highlight and explain new words and we revisit these words in the next retelling of the story. We concentrate our attention on tier 2 words found in the reading books as these words will be the ones that children can use more frequently across the setting and in their daily lives.