We were visiting great friends for a few weeks. One of their kids used a big word in his conversation – and suddenly they all interrupted with a cheer, ‘Cookie Word’!
We had no idea what a cookie word was, so they explained.
Their kids were encouraged to use big words in everyday communication. If they did, they’d get… a cookie! Therefore it became a ‘Cookie Word’.
We’ve never given cookies, but we’ve adapted the game and when someone uses a big word in context in everyday conversation (Mom, I have a headache. It’s like my cerebellum is pulsing.) then we cheer ‘Yeah! Cookie Word!’
There are lots of good ways to build your kids’ vocabulary! Here are some ideas:
- Read the Bible to them out loud, and when old enough, have them read it to you. Stop and ask for definitions of words they may not understand. It helps them get the story, too.
- Read out loud to them as much as you can. We learn many definitions from context and tone. Read with inflection and they will understand almost every word. Read a word often enough and they’ll start to use it.
- Don’t just read kid books. Find books with big words that have fascinating stories (The Door Within, for example).
- Old words are often good cookie words. Find old, old stories or even the KJV if you want to try some old English.
- Grab the dictionary! Find a good word every morning at breakfast and declare it the cookie word of the day! Then give rewards for whoever uses that word correctly in conversation throughout the day. (Even better if they include it in their written assignments!)
- Buy a good vocabulary game. Balderdash is excellent. So is Literati Challenge. Literati Challenge is really for ages 13+, but we have used it younger and it’s fun. We’ve learned great words like perspicacity and odious. (Do you know what they mean?)
- Ban boring words like ‘whatever’ and ‘good’ and ‘nice’ and ‘okay’ and ‘fine’. Choose a word to ban for the day and see how creative you can be with finding better, cookie words to replace it.
How about you?
How do you teach vocabulary to your kids? Do you have a cookie word you’d like to share?
(I have two I’m just dying to share… but I won’t until someone leaves a good cookie word in the comments!)