Enriching your Child’s Vocabulary: Weekly Mystery Word (for Early Readers)

To enrich my 6-year old’s vocabulary in her 2 minority languages (ml), I have recently introduced a Weekly Mystery Word.

Every morning on her breakfast plate, she finds a little tag with a word in English to read. If she does not know it, I explain it to her. Then, using sticky-tack, she sticks the tag on a sheet of paper we use as a backdrop. By the end of the week, we go over all the words and I ask my daughter if she can guess the mystery word to which all the tags of the week relate to; for instance tags with tamer, acrobat, ringmaster, and juggler if the mystery word if the circus. This makes her use her reading skills but also her deduction skills.

We do the Mystery Word from Monday to Friday, as at week-ends the girls have their breakfast watching cartoons, which I find distracting and not a favourable condition to attract their attention and discuss the tag.

Daddy builds on these tags by translating to Spanish. We chose to write the tags in English as she is beginning to read in that language. For the moment, we do not want to create confusion by asking her to read in Spanish. She will start reading our Majority Language in September and once she does, this will help her transfer her reading skills to Spanish since both are latin languages.

Here are tips as to how to go about designing this Weekly Mystery Word set.

Challenges:

  • Finding the inspiration!
  • Choosing the vocabulary adapted to your child’s level
  • Finding topics that can interest your child

Resources used:

  • A fun or pretty clip-art selected from Internet that hold 5 words (or 7 if you go for a word a day) and be cut out like a jigsaw puzzle.  For mine, I got an EduHelp daisy clip-art on this website.
  • Word, or any word-processing software.
  • Colour printer.
  • Felt-tips or coloured pencils.
  • Sticky-tack.
  • A pair of scissors.

Steps:

  1. In a new Word document, insert a header with your child’s name such as “X’s Weekly Mystery Word” (for the purposes of this blog, I have cut off the name of my daughter from the pictures below). Use loads of bright colours and a large font to make it look attractive.
  2. Search online for the clip-art template. Copy it.
  3. Paste it into your Word document, under your header.
  4. Enlarge the clip-art so it uses up as much of the page as possible. This will serve as your backdrop on which your child will stick the tags.
  5. On the following page, paste your clip-art again. This will serve to create the tags with the daily words.
  6. Print the 2 pages.
  7. Colour in with lively colours the clip-art on page 1 (your backdrop page).
  8. Cut out your clip-art on page 2 (your tags) and put on each piece a word related to the mystery word you have selected for that week.

You will have to repeat the printing of the tags every week and fill out the pieces with the new vocabulary.

End result:

Tips:

  1. If you have an extra blank piece on your clip-art, you can put the mystery word and give it out to your child to stick on the backdrop once they have guessed the word right. My daughter loved this.
  2. Build on your child’s Majority Language (ML) schooling by using the ml vocabulary for what they are learning in the ML. For instance, I chose to topics of the circus and castle as they were part of the school curriculum this year.
  3. Keep the tags and re-use them later during the year so your child may “revise” their vocabulary in the same playful manner.

9 Comments

    1. I recently began this. I picked topics covered in ML at school: circus and castle vocabulary. Will have to think of more for when we get home…yikes! Thanks for the reminder.
      Why not time (seasons, days of week…), plants, body parts, weather, holidays (eg: plane, beach, sun hat…)? Pick ideas from a kids encyclopedia maybe?

      Like

    1. I definitely recommend an encyclopedia. I’m considering buying Larousse’s Mi primera Encyclopedia. It looked fab.
      Its difficult to recommend topics as I don’t know your son’s vocabulary. I’d say to build on what he learns in ML at school so as to ensure he gets the ml vocabulary. Look up his school work and curriculum for inspiration maybe?

      Like

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