Natural vocabulary acquisition is one of the wonderful benefits of regularly reading to our children – that is, if we take the time to explain and to demonstrate what a word means!
Little T was just three when she started relishing the word “camouflage.” She loves the way it rolls off her tongue, and uses it every chance she gets. One time, she even used it to describe my (newly-done) pink toenails resting on my pink slippers!
It all started with The Little Rabbit, a book that has lovely photographs of real rabbits instead of the usual picture book illustrations. “Before Five in a Row” suggests that parents talk about how difficult it is to see the wild rabbit in the foliage and to introduce the word camouflage to describe the situation.
I took one step further and made a game out it. Little T and I made some simple blue, green, yellow, and pink origami bunnies and took turns finding ways to camouflage our little pets. I remember playing that game for one whole day, putting the origami bunnies on top of or in front of same-colored objects.
We have since moved on to other books and activities, but somehow, the word camouflage has been ingrained in my daughter’s memory and has become part of her daily vocabulary.
Little kids can learn big words, when we read to them regularly, when we patiently answer their questions, and when we take the time to make the words hop out of the pages.