While one of Fred Rogers’ trademarks was the simple and straightforward way he spoke to children, he knew the importance of enriching children’s vocabularies with “big” words. An excellent example is the song he wrote for King Friday to sing:
“Propel, propel, propel your craft…
Gently down liquid solution.
Ecstatically, ecstatically, ecstatically, ecstatically,
Existence is but an illusion!”
There are so many fun and easy ways that you can share big words with the children you teach. Watch this video clip to see how thoughtfully Fred introduces a “big” word, and see below for some more suggestions from the Fred Rogers Company newsletter.
Think of words that are fun to say: If a child enjoys saying a word or thinks it sounds comical or silly, they are more likely to use it in the future. Some great sounding “big” words are “humungous” and “stupendous.”
Stretch children’s emotional vocabulary: We all know the importance of having children “use their words” to describe how they are feeling. Help your child put a name on more complex emotions such as anxious, nervous, disgusted, or disappointed.
Expose children to new words in books: Read books to your child that introduce new words but still have familiar vocabulary. Don’t stop to define the words the first few times you read the book. There is a good chance that your child will figure out the meaning from context.
Help children move from general to specific: Take advantage of opportunities to help your child learn to define items in a category that they would normally label with the same word, such as flowers, animals or insects. The next time you are outside and your child spots a “bug” take the time to talk about how that bug’s real name is a “beetle” or a “gnat.”