Using stories to extend children’s vocabulary



10th December 2021

Using stories to extend children’s vocabulary

The DfE published the Reading Framework in July 2021 to provide guidance on the teaching of early reading. In this article, Gill Quantrell explores the role stories play in developing children’s language comprehension and how Cornerstones’ new early years projects promote a love of reading and support children to develop a broad and rich vocabulary.

Using stories to extend children’s vocabulary

The Reading Framework

The advice published in the Reading Framework links closely to the Education Inspection Framework and sets reading at the heart of the curriculum. Each Ofsted inspection will feature a deep dive into reading to ensure the school places a high focus on early literacy skills and has a robust phonics programme. And whilst phonics will give children the skills to decode words, they also need to develop language comprehension skills to become successful and motivated readers. The Reading Framework suggests that when children first start to read, the words they can decode are

‘too limited to broaden their vocabulary’.

Therefore, introducing rich vocabulary plays a crucial role when developing children who love reading and want to read for pleasure.

Making story time a priority

In the early years, it is essential to prioritise story time to promote a love of reading and provide opportunities for children to broaden their vocabulary.

Selecting quality stories to share with the children throughout the year can help expand their vocabulary and introduce new words. Stories should have a strong narrative and either allow children to identify and connect with the characters or help them to understand the lives, experiences, and perspectives of others.

Children love to listen to stories multiple times. This helps them to relive their response to the story, whether that is the anticipation of a scary or funny event or joy when the story ends happily. The repeated sharing of books helps children to understand story structures and learn more complex vocabulary in context. Multiple readings improve engagement with books, by retelling stories and joining in with repeated refrains. The Reading Framework sets out further advice for story times and gives practitioners guidance on making story time purposeful.

Using Cornerstones early years projects to develop reading

Cornerstones new EYFS projects are based around quality stories and promote reading, engagement and vocabulary growth. Every stage of the project introduces the children to a new story and provides activities to bring the stories to life. There is practitioner guidance to help develop children’s comprehension and introduce tier 2 vocabulary in context. Alongside each activity, the linked enhanced provision provides opportunities for the children to act out stories through role-play and small world activities.

Coming soon

In the summer term, we’ll be adding ‘Story Packs’ to the projects to support practitioners further to prioritise reading. Each Story Pack will provide a step-by-step guide to help introduce quality stories, pick out tier 2 vocabulary, develop children’s language comprehension and provide opportunities for children to join in and act in roles during story times.

Useful stuff

For further support with early reading and developing children’s language and communication. Read our blog The Importance of Early Reading.

If you would like to discover more about the Cornerstones EYFS Curriculum then please book a demo today.

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