Last week, I sat and watched the bombogenesis blow huge snowflakes across the playground at our school. Bombogenesis… really? What a surprise to learn the word is real. A Google search reveals a definition and everything that comes with any other real word; yet, it is not listed on dictionary.com. So, is it a word? NOAA says it is. Whether it is “officially” a word or not, it sure is fun to say, even if we don’t exactly know its meaning (unless we happen to be meteorologists, of course).
I love wordplay. I make words up constantly, complete with definitions. Several years ago, in an effort to share my enthusiasm for words (or “wordthusiasm”) with students, we studied the origin of words and made our own dictionary, creating new words whose meanings were based on their origin. It was great fun and supported students’ continued vocabulary development.
The number of words that children have access to in their expressive vocabulary builds exponentially as they grow. They begin with a few words as a young toddler to having more than 5,000 words in their vocabulary as a 7-year-old. The more agile they are with language, the more successful they are in school and in life. It has been proven that conversation with children is the best way to build their language skills. Directive speech – giving commands to do something or get something – won’t do the trick. Talking with children is how they gain vocabulary. As someone who is with children every day, conversing with them is often the highlight of my day. They are eager for interaction and can’t wait to share their stories.
Have fun talking to the children in your life and include some wordplay as you learn about the important aspects of their days. As that ever-popular nanny Mary Poppins said, it will be supercalifragisticexpialidocious!