Vocabulary Development - Toddler Years

Updated: Oct 23, 2019

Last week we talked about the relationship between brain research and teaching children when they are ready to learn. We also explored ways to help develop your child's vocabulary during their first 12 months. This week we will focus on vocabulary development during your child's toddler years - 12 months to 24 months. Developmentally this is a super busy time in your child's life. They are curious explorers with unending amounts of energy. Their understanding of speech and language are developing quickly, which makes it a fun period of time to learn new skills. A toddler, during this growth period, can do many things such as looking and enjoying picture books, putting more words and sounds together as their vocabulary increases up to an average of 50 words, enjoying songs and rhyming, beginning to help turn the pages while reading together and may begin walking unassisted towards the end of this developmental stage. This is also the stage where you may hear "mine" quite frequently.

Age Appropriate Learning Activities for Building Vocabulary - Toddler Years

One Year Old - Your one year old is busy and becoming more mobile. They enjoy being around other children but will declare most things "mine."

  • Look at picture books with your child and point to familiar objects in the books.

  • Encourage your child to name objects as you point to them.

  • Provide opportunities for your child to interact with a variety of toys - push and pull toys, stacking and sorting toys, etc...

  • Enjoy books that focus on rhyming

  • Frequently sing to and with your child.

Book Suggestions:

  • The Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss Books

  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear - Eric Carle

  • Where is the Green Sheep - Mem Fox

  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes - David Ellwand

  • Gallop! - Rufus Butler Seder

Two Year Old - This can be a trying time in your child's development. Their determination and need to be independent are signs your child is developmentally on track. Their increasing curiosity of the world around them, makes this stage a lot of fun, too.

  • Give your child opportunities to sort toys.

  • Ask your child to name objects in books you read together.

  • Frequently read aloud with your child from a variety of books.

  • Share nursery rhymes and action rhymes that encourage movement and singing.

  • Encourage imaginative play, for example dress-up, empty boxes, cars, animals, etc...

  • Play games together to give opportunities to match colors, sizes, animals, etc...

Book Suggestions:

  • Hickory, Dickory, Dock - and other favorite nursery rhymes - Illustrated by Sanja Rescek

  • Elmer's Colors - David McKee

  • What Makes a Rainbow - Betty Schwartz

  • The Runaway Bunny - Margaret Wise Brown

  • The Eentsy, Weentzy Spider: Fingerplays and Action Rhymes - Joanna Cole

Next week, we will continue to look for ways to encourage vocabulary development during the Preschool Years.

I would love to hear about your favorite books that you share with your little ones. Please comment below or send your suggestions to sarah@skbpublishing.com.

Happy Reading,


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