Prep: 5-10 Minutes / Activity Time: 10-15 Minutes

A rich vocabulary is essential to reading comprehension. Research shows that the size of a reader’s vocabulary influences both comprehension and reading fluency. This activity provides a simple way to help your preschooler develop her vocabulary through playing with and exploring everyday objects.

  • any objects that you can locate in large quantities, such as:
    • buttons
    • small rocks
    • beads
    • corks
    • jar lids
    • washers, nuts & bolts
    • keys
  • small baskets or bowls for sorting; you might even use pieces of construction paper to sort on

Step 1: Give your child a collection of everyday items such as those suggested in Supplies. Let her play with and explore the items for a little while with no instructions from you.

Step 2: Talk with your child about the characteristics and attributes of the objects. Talk about the similarities and differences. Here are some vocabulary comparison words you might use with your child when describing the objects:

  • big/little
  • hard/soft
  • thick/thin
  • loud/quiet
  • rough/smooth
  • round/square
  • shiny/dull
  • glittery/plain
  • bumpy/smooth

Step 3: Provide three to four baskets, trays, or pieces of construction paper for sorting. Ask your child to think of a way to sort the items. It might be by color, size or texture. Or your child might use some of the attributes you discussed with her earlier.

Step 4: After she has sorted the objects, ask her to describe how she sorted them. As she learns to recognize and describe attributes of items she plays with, she is building a foundation for later skills like classifying and making patterns.

Give your child a collection of similar objects (e.g., a variety of buttons) and two sorting trays. Suggest ways for her to sort. For example, you might ask her to put all the big buttons in one tray and the little ones in another.

Let your child work independently. See how many ways she can identify to sort. Be sure to ask her to describe her reasoning for each sort.