Encourage preschoolers to learn and use new and more complex words

At A Glance

Children’s vocabularies expand so much during the preschool years! Children learn new and more complex words when they engage in activities, interact with books, and talk with adults. We can support children’s vocabulary development by giving child-friendly definitions to new words and repeating words often.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at ways you can support preschoolers' vocabulary skills

Draw Attention to Word Relations

Identify words or phrases that are similar in meaning to a target word. Note how this educator uses words with a different shade of meaning for the word “tight.” She says, “She can’t get it on,” “It’s too small,” and “It does not fit her.”

Repeat Words Often

Within a single exchange, repeat a word many times. Note how this educator uses “frustrated” several times, elaborates on the word within a short story or comment, and asks a child to provide a reason.

Use Words in Many Situations

Repeat targeted vocabulary often and across various settings, like this educator does with the word “porridge.” By repeating the same word at story time and choice time, children are more likely to understand its meaning and use it correctly.

Waiting for Wings book cover


Waiting for Wings

Written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, this book features sophisticated language as it follows the journey of butterflies from hatching into caterpillars to becoming butterflies.


Under My Hijab

Written Hena Kahn and illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel, this story follows the hobbies and jobs of a family of women who wear their hijabs in their own ways. The different activities shown throughout the story provide the chance to talk about word relations.

Under My Hijab book cover
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn book cover


Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

Written and illustrated by Kenard Pak, this book features descriptive verbs related to movement as a child explores nature during the changing seasons.

Activity Cards for Preschool Classrooms

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, these activity cards provide simple and fun ways to support children's vocabulary skills
Body Parts Songs Activity Card
let's sing

Body Parts Songs

Invite children to sing songs about body parts, while introducing new words for body parts they might not know yet.

Collect A Category Activity Card
Let's collect

Collect A Category

Challenge children to collect objects that belong in a category group.

Opposite Hunt Activity Card
Let's think

Opposite Hunt

Introduce new words or objects and encourage children to look around the room to find the opposite.

Which Word Activity Card
Let's play

Which Word?

Prompt children to help figure out which object does not belong in a group of two similar and one different object.


Get Our Resource Guide

Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of the Core Skills