Vocabulary Activity: Learning Words

Vocabulary Activity: Learning Words

Completing a vocabulary activity doesn’t have to be boring. You can teach, have fun and be silly at the same time. Below I have provided you with ideas for teaching your child new words by using the book called “Silly Sally.”

Learning Words by Having FUN with Books is a Breeze

“Silly Sally” is a wonderful book written by Audrey Wood. It is a fantastic tool for teaching vocabulary such as common animal names, common action words and teaching your child to make predictions. It’s one of my favorite books for introducing the concepts “right side up” and “upside down.” This book is great for engaging kids in pretend play, dancing and movement! If you don’t have a hard copy of the book, check out the online, version on YouTube.

What vocabulary can you teach?

Spatial/Positional Concepts

  1. Upside down
  2. Right side up

Animal Names and Sounds

  1. Pig
  2. Dog
  3. Duck (It’s called a “loon” in the book- I prefer using the word duck when teaching young children)
  4. Sheep

Action Words

  1. Dance/Dancing
  2. Leap/Leaping (jump/Jumping)
  3. Sing/Singing
  4. Sleep/Sleeping
  5. Walk/Walking
  6. Tickle/Tickling

Describing Words

  1. Muddy (muddy pig)
  2. Fluffy (fluffy sheep)
  3. Wet (wet duck)
  4. Soft (soft feathers)
  5. Curly (curly hair)

Book Only Activities

Vocabulary Activity: Teaching Animal Names and Action Words
  • As you read each page, emphasize the name of the animal or action word that you want your child to learn. Make the sound of the animals and try to get your child to make the animal sounds too. After reading about what the animal did, playfully ask your child questions such as “what did…” or “who did.” When asking “what” questions you are trying to get your child to say an action word. When asking “who” questions, you are trying to get your child to name an animal.
  • If your child does not answer your question, point to the animal or action and look at your child expectantly. Remember to smile with your child because smiles are contagious and encouraging. If your child still does not answer, say the animal name or action word with excitement! Move on and keep doing this with all of the animals in the story. If you want to give your child a little help before giving him/her the answer, say the first sound of the word. If the word is “pig,” say “p” or “pi.” Some children catch on quickly and will fill-in the rest of the word after listening to your cue. Here are two examples of a child/parent scenario.
Scenario 1

Parent: Silly Sally met a PIG! And they DANCED a jig (point to pig)

Parent: Who danced a jig? You can also ask “what animal danced?” The… (wait expectantly)

Child: Pig

Parent: Yes, Sally and the PIG danced

Scenario 2

Parent: Silly Sally met a PIG! And they DANCED a jig (point to pig)

Parent: Who danced a jig? The… (wait expectantly)

Child: Looks at parent but does not verbalize (child might point to pig)

Parent: PIG! The PIG danced a jig (make animal sound and be silly)

Children benefit from reading books over and over and over again. Each time you read the book, pick a few concepts that you want to teach your child and practice them repetitively. Reading the same book several times helps children learn stories and they will begin to pretend to read the story themselves. This helps with literacy skills. Teach your child how to hold the book right side up and how to turn the pages in the right direction. Encourage your child to point to the words and move their finger from left to right on the line as you read the words.

Vocabulary Activity: Movement
  • When reading the book, pause on each page and talk about what Silly Sally and the animal on that page are doing. Stand up with your child and act out the action word. You can walk, leap, sing, tickle, sleep and dance. To make it even more fun, make the sound of the animal on the page you are looking at.
  • After reading the book, play “Silly Sally Says…” This is basically the game of Simon Says. For example, Silly Sally says leap like the dog or Silly Sally says dance like the pig. If appropriate for your child, take turns telling each other what to do.
  • Play the game “Guess Who” by acting out what one of the animals in the story did and having your child guess who you are. You can take turns guessing. This game will help children practice to recall the story. Recalling details from a story is an important skill that children need to develop as they enter school.
Vocabulary Activity: Teaching Prediction
  • Teach your child to look at pictures in the book for clues to help him/her figure out what will happen next in the story. The pages on the right side of the book will have an illustration of the animal that will come next in the story. After reading the first page say things like, “I wonder what comes next…hmmm, let’s look here.” Use your finger to scan the page so that your child sees that you are looking for an animal. Ask, “Do you see an animal?” Encourage your child by saying phrases like “keep looking” “I think I see one, do you?” “Let’s put on our spy glasses” (pretend to put glasses on). If your child does not find the animal, help him/her find it. Once you do, show excitement!
  • Continue reading the book and remember to keep asking your child, “What’s next?” or “what animal do you think is next?” Using the word “next” in your questions will teach him/her the meaning of the word “next.” If appropriate, teach your child to use the word “next” in a phrase or sentence. For example, “the dog is next” or “dog is next.”

 Hands-On Vocabulary Activity

Vocabulary Activity with Pretend Play: Teaching Right Side Up and Upside Down
  • Gather toy animals or dolls found in the book and sing/chant the phrases “Silly Sally went to town walking backwards upside down. On the way she met a (animal).” When you name each animal, show your child how to turn it upside down and play around by flipping it right side up and upside down several times.
  • Get a small cup of water and let your child give the animals water while the animals are right side up and while upside down. When the animal is “drinking” water upside down, water will spill. Talk about what is happening and what to do. Here are some phrases and sentences you could say:
  1. oh-no the water is spilling, the cow is upside down
  2. let’s flip the cow right side up
  3. much better, the cow can drink water now
  4. silly cow, you can’t drink water upside down

You can also feed applesauce to the animals by using a spoon. This activity will be messy but it will be fun. I recommend using a tray with elevated edges as a work surface so that the water and applesauce will be easy to clean up.

There are many words to learn and fun moments to have with “Silly Sally.” Come back next week for another post with educational activities to keep your little ones learning while having fun. You can also check out this Language Activity Post for more ideas.

Photo credits: garlandcannon on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA, MamiGibbs on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND, kourtlynlott on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-ND

Have more fun ideas for this book? Let me know in the comments below.