Build Your Child’s Vocabulary: 3 Activities for Fall

When you’re out and about doing fun family activities this fall, take the opportunity to add a little language boost to your outings! We’re going to give you three tips to help build your child’s vocabulary this fall while you’re enjoying the season and just having a good time!

Children are little sponges. They soak up everything and are capable of so much more than we sometimes give them credit for. One of the best ways to take advantage of this natural inclination to absorb information is to use proper names and descriptive language in your everyday conversations.

Build Your Child’s Vocabulary Tip #1: Name that tree!

Whether you’re out in your yard raking leaves, walking around your neighborhood, or enjoying a family hike, take a few minutes to identify some of the different species of trees that you see. Autumn is the perfect time of year to note the differences in common trees in your area. Different trees will turn different colors, making them easier to identify and fun to collect and admire.

Draw your child’s attention to differences in shape, size, color, and texture. You can compare a reddish-orange leaf from a white oak tree to the bright yellow leaves from the tulip poplar tree. They are distinctly different; something that is not necessarily easy to spot in the spring or summer to the untrained eye. Instead of just saying “look at the pretty leaves,” you can say “which do you prefer? The tulip poplar or the white oak?”

Need a little help? There are an endless number of resources online! We searched for “tree identification Virginia” and found this handy guide from the Virginia Department of Forestry. Look for resources related to your neck of the woods and take a few minutes to ID some trees!

Build Your Child’s Vocabulary Tip #2: Carve a Pumpkin!

Like many families, you’ll probably be carving a pumpkin some time soon. You might even be heading to a pumpkin patch to pick it yourselves! Take the time to identify and name the different part of the pumpkin. Use descriptive words to draw attention to the shape, size, texture, and colors that you see. And encourage your child to explore the many fun aspects of this autumnal fruit (yes, a pumpkin is a fruit).

  • Stem – thick, prickly, green, brown, short, long, curved, straight
  • Vine – twisty, rope-like, prickly
  • Leaves – green, brown, large, dried, soft, crispy
  • Skin – smooth, bumpy, rough, clean, muddy, dirty, rotten, ripe, lumpy, creased, orange, yellow, white, green
  • Pulp – stringy, slimy, wet, squishy
  • Seeds – smooth, slippery, large, small, numerous, flat, edible
  • Meat – thick, orange, smooth, cold, wet

There are so many wonderful words to describe our favorite fall gourd! Dig in, scrape around, and get creative!

Build Your Child’s Vocabulary Tip #3: Apples Galore!

Have you ever had an apple taste test? Fall is the perfect time of year to try out different apple varieties, so get your taste buds ready and have some fun with apples! If apple-picking at a local farm or orchard is an option, head out to pick your own or select your apples from local markets. If you’re in the Northern Virginia area, Stribling Orchard in Markham is reasonable drive and offers a beautiful country setting, fresh food market, and apples galore (through early November).

Select five or six different apples, cut them up, and have a family taste test! Which do you prefer? Everyone knows about Red Delicious and Granny Smith, but have you tried Cortland, Empire, or Pink Lady apples? What about Ginger Gold, Stayman, or Tyedman Red?

For extra vocabulary bonus points that also taste delicious, get baking! From pies, to crisps, to breads, and sauces, apples are such a versatile fruit. They are tart, sweet, juicy, firm, soft, ripe, rotten, and a million words in between!

Final Thoughts

  • Use your senses— Pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures around you this fall. There are so many ways to experience this season and share those observations with your child!
  • Let your child explore without judgement — yes, pumpkin pulp is wet, slimy, and stringy, but that doesn’t mean it’s gross, yucky, or disgusting! As parents and teachers, it is our responsibility to introduce new experiences without bias.
  • Beware of activity overload — It’s tempting to load up the calendar as we head into cooler months, but choose quality over quantity when it comes to outings, adventures, and experiences. Nothing ruins a fun day out like a tantrum or a meltdown! Know your child’s limits and quit while you’re ahead.

Additional Resources:

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