I spent a fun summer with some 16-22 month olds intending to return to 4-year-olds in August. But God knew better than I did, and when I found myself facing a school year as a toddler teacher, my mind exploded with ideas and possibilities… much like our toddlers’ vocabularies are exploding at an exponential rate!
Throughout the summer, I would smile as they said new words… some of them repeated “hot” when we went outside and said “hat” when I donned my large sunshade for the playground. I tried to remember the few new words I heard so I could share them with their parents.
But when I got ready for the school year, I knew I wanted to document their progress in language-learning. I turned to Pinterest, where surprisingly my search was fruitless. So instead I brainstormed and experimented, and this is what I came up with.
I printed out the kids’ names, glued them to cardstock, and laminated them. I then painted clothespins white and hot-glued them to both sides of each name. I wanted a way to change out the papers every week so they could be preserved in the students’ portfolios, and the clothespins are very effective.
The concept is simple: on a weekly basis, I record the unique words I hear them say on their own and the words they repeat (from me, another teacher, or another student). Each day words are written with a different color.
Disclaimer: OF COURSE I do not have the time to write down every single word that every child says every day. But I try to write down at least a few new words that they say each day.
The results have been astonishing. Just compare how these students have progressed from September to February!
This student was speaking several words even in the summer, but the next developmental step for her was speaking in sentences, which is very evident after only 4 months.
This idea could easily be adapted for older children (they do ask the greatest questions and describe things so uniquely) or for children at home. I am planning to send these names-and-clothespins home at the end of the year. But until then, it will serve us well in documenting our expanding vocabulary.