Tuesday, July 22, 2014

3 Ways to Expand a Child's Vocabulary

I can't believe my little baby is off to Kindergarten in just 6 weeks. Wow! Time really does fly! I think he's ready for school ...and has been for a long time now. He's as social as the most extroverted butterfly and he loves to learn!!

Judging by his preschool report card I think his teacher feels the same way!

Now, before I go on, I have to apologize in advance if sharing this pic comes off as me bragging about my clever little boy... I'm only sharing his preschool report card here because it inspired me to write this post!

My son's teacher has no idea about my Picture Thesauruses or that I've been working on my Cinnamon's Synonym's app, so it meant so much to me that this comment came from a place of unbiased observation.  Now, you're probably thinking: Does this girl just shove all these words down her son's throat to make him sound "smart"?  No. That couldn't be farther from the truth. In fact, when I read this comment, I was a bit surprised myself because it's not like I set time aside every day and say, "Ok kid, let's learn some new words". Bah, how boring would that be!!

This report card comment made me ask myself, "what was I doing right?!" because I didn't really think I was doing anything extraordinary (or at least not consciously).

Here's what I think contributes to my boy's incredible vocabulary and I encourage you to try these tips with your own kids whether they are your students or your own children.

1. Read to them... a lot.  

I spend a lot of time reading to my boy.  When I was a stay at home mom, I remember spending hours curled up in his bed with him, reading until I needed the nap more than he did. We all know the importance of reading to children, so I won't go into too much detail about this one. But I will say, his love of reading and listening to stories has definitely impacted his vocabulary.

Here's an interesting infographic for you to ponder:

In my class, I work on building my students' stamina when it comes to reading. I will talk more about that in another post!

2. Expose kids to "BIG" words when you communicate with them:

The second reason is significant because I don't think adults do this enough.

From the time my boy was an infant I NEVER dumbed things down for him. If he asked a question about something, I would explain my answer using adult terms.  I do this in my teaching as well. Sure, I'll make the concept easier to attain by giving fun, relatable examples (usually by providing visuals), but the vocabulary I use remains the same.  Some might think 'big words' are difficult for young kids to say but... think about the word Tyrannosaurus Rex!! I can barely even spell that word but I hear kids saying it all the time!

* this image can be found in my picture thesaurus "Big" - a word that kids tend to overuse a lot!

Tyrannosaurus Rex is also a tricky word to say (never mind spell), but kids as young as 2 or 3 know this word because they've been exposed to it so often. And THAT's the key - the more we expose young kids to 'big' words, the better!

3.  My Picture Thesauruses.

Originally, the intended audience for my books never meant to include preschoolers, but after noticing how much my son loved looking at the pictures and hearing me talk about them, I realized these books could be used in a variety of ways and for a variety of ages (from preschool up to grades 5 or 6).

This realization happened by accident!

My kid LOVES to eat and he loves to eat as slow as a gastropod with a broken foot.

BUT, I never minded this because a. I'm a slow eater and I hate being rushed.  b.  Working on an ipad app is a long process... sneaking in time to work on my computer while I waited for my lil man to complete his 700 chews per bite kept me sane and productive!

Dinner time was the time I usually received final images from my illustrator. This was my chance to take a look and make notes of any edits I wanted to have done.  As I'd open my e-mails, my lil man would eagerly turn the computer to face him too so he could take a look at the fun images. "Oooh, he likes them", I would think! "This is great! Market research right at my dining table".  We would end up talking about the images... I would use the same adjectives listed in the books to orally describe what was happening in each picture and he would add his inferences to our dialogue.

I guess he really picked up a lot from these e-mail checking sessions.  Sure, he can't read the synonyms in my books (and soon to be iPad app) yet, but reading pictures is one of the first stages of reading and my guy was doing a great job at that.

This made me realize that these books can be used at any age! Children who are still learning how to read can use the pictures to have oral discussions with an adult about the shades of meaning illustrated on each page and in each context. Then when they are older (and able to read fluently) they can interact with these books in other ways like using them as a thesaurus to replace boring words!

I love using my books to inspire kids to expand their vocabulary because they are always engaged when using them!  Take a look at my freebie and try it yourself! Click {here}! I can guarantee you'll have as much fun looking at the pictures as your students or kids will!

The complete bundle has 20 picture thesauruses!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

TPT Goes to... VEGAS BABY!!!

This weekend, Teacher's Pay Teachers had their very first TPT conference. What an honor it was to be a part of this experience.  The energy in the room during the keynote was electrifying! 

To hear Paul Edelman, the founder of TPT, speak of his journey was inspiring. This guy is the most humble person you could ever meet. He took the time to meet all the teachers; popped his head into all the conference sessions that were taking place; and even kept his promise to hug each and every one of us (there were more than 800 people at the conference)! Let me tell you, Paul's hug was the best hug ever... not one of those half-hearted side hugs! My friend Jenn from The Teacher Next Door was laughing that my hug was a bit long... uh... I couldn't help it.. I see a genius, and I want to squeeze him tight in hopes of maybe having some of that brilliance travel onto me by osmosis. I think it worked! I felt a bit changed after that moment!

I also got to meet some people I've admired since I started my journey with TPT: Deanna Jump, Amy Lemons, and Rachel Lynette.  

Amy Lemons' blog, Step Into Second Grade, is one of my favorite teaching blogs... so I was pretty excited when I got to meet her! When I decided to start blogging, I never imagined that my first post would include an awesome pic with my blogging guru! Pretty darn sweet! What a great way to start my blogging journey!

Deanna Jump is such a ray of sunshine.  She was one of the keynote speakers...and after hearing her speech, I couldn't help but start to speak in a Georgian accent myself. Um, it's actually kind of coming out as I speak in my head right now y'all.

RACHEL LYNETTE! I loved every single person I met at the conference, I really did... BUT Rachel Lynette just blew me away. I could have listened to her speak ALL day. The whole time she did her presentation I just kept thinking: Wow, what an honor... I am getting to hear all of her wisdom and insight first hand! Her presentation was funny and engaging... and her presence... let me tell you, she might be small, but her presence is anything but!  After listening to her speak I just wanted to go straight back into my hotel room to put everything into action. I think we all did. I love you Rachel Lynette! You are awesome!

At the end of the conference, Rachel presented this beautiful collage to Paul. I feel pretty stoked to have my lil Cinnamon on here. 

Can you find me?  That's my logo in its earliest form!

The night before the conference I got to hang out with some amazing teachers I've been collaborating with over the past few months. 

These teacherpreneurs are incredible! 
I'm with my girls April, Jenn, Pam and Kristin.

I convinced the girls that as scary as it looked, we should face our fears and go on the High Roller ferris wheel. There is a reason you can't see it in this pic... it's only the highest ferris wheel in the world! This is our scared face (oops.. I guess the pose message didn't quite make it to Pam and Jenn on the right!). 

image from this site.

I stayed in Vegas for a couple of days after the conference. 
Dynelle Dunn is the funniest girl ever! She had me in stitches every time we hung out.  Although standing in a massively long line up is not my idea of fun (we were lined up at Carlo's Bake Shop), doing it with Dynelle was a different story. At one point she had me laughing so hard that I was crying. She is a little comedian, this one.

And last but DEFINITELY not least.. here's me with my girl Kristin from One Stop Teacher Shop. I love this girl. Before I met her, I had been secretly admiring her teacherpreneurship skills as well as her amazing teaching resources, for a while... and I'm in awe at how the universe works. If you believe in the power of putting things out there in the universe and trusting that events can align to make your wishes a reality - then you can appreciate that I really believe my friendship with Kristin is a result of this cosmic phenomena. (The whole story could be its own blog post, I think!)

We took this pic in her hotel room. (In a year, I will explain why we did! I know this sounds mysterious, but trust me, it's better I wait).

I LOVE this quote. This is exactly how I feel right now! It explains why, two ladies in Vegas would rather spend their time working away on their laptops instead of roaming casinos and Vegas hot spots.  This is called finding your passion, having a vision, and not being distracted even in the most stimulating place on the planet!

First blog post: done! Gosh, I never realized I had so much to say. I think I just might be able to do this whole bloggin' thing after all.  Thanks for listening to me yap away... and if you made it to the end... wow, I'm flattered!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Stay Tuned

More info coming soon!

Thanks for stopping by!!
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