Wild, wonderful words

Explore the magic of adjectives using your child's favorite stories.

You'll Need

  • Pen
  • Paper
  • A few of your child's favorite books

Learning Stages

By Susan Dichter

Susan Dichter wears many hats—mother, writer, former teacher, museum director and librarian. Her books include Teachers: Straight Talk from the Trenches (Contemporary Books, 1990).

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines an adjective as: "a word belonging to one of the major form classes in any of numerous languages and typically serving as a modifier of a noun to denote a quality of the thing named, to indicate its quantity or extent, or to specify a thing as distinct from something else."

Whew. Quite a mouthful. There's an easier, and more engaging way, to introduce your child to the magic of adjectives.

"Adjectives Abound" is a great activity to do in the car, at the dinner table, or just as a fun game to play with your child. All you need to start is a piece of paper, a pencil or pen, and a few of your child's favorite books.

Pull out several books that you have read before with your child. Ask him to use words to describe the story to you. The Wizard of Oz might be "exciting" or "scary," while The Stinky Cheese Man might be "funny" or "silly."

List the adjectives on a piece of paper. Do this for several favorite books. Discuss with your child the words he chose to describe the books. The words he selects may provide you with insights into your child’s reading preferences. Does he prefer funny stories to scary ones? Exciting stories to fanciful ones?

Talk about other types of books that might be interesting to your child. Encourage your child to choose books that will offer a wide range of reading experiences. The more your child reads, the more likely it will be that those adjectives will keep changing.

As your child becomes more proficient with adjectives, try playing this game without writing anything down. Then try playing it with other objects or topics. Having a family dinner? How would you describe the different foods? Play again to find words to describe movies you watch together. Once he gets started, your child will discover that adjectives do abound!