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Literacy for Children with Combined Vision and Hearing Loss

Strategy 3: Teach new vocabulary within a variety of activities

What to Do

  • Choose a vocabulary word that is useful or interesting to the child  (e.g. wash, swing)
  • Involve your child when using this word throughout the day in as many different ways as possible (e.g. wash the dishes, wash your hands, wash the table, put clothes in the washer, wash the car, wash fruits or vegetables, etc)
  • Show the child the word in print or braille
  • Match the print or braille word to the object, tactile symbol or picture
  • Find this word in the child's home, classroom or community
  • Use the word in multiple contexts to reinforce and expand concepts and comprehension
    • For example, when teaching chair, take time to explore different chairs with the child (e.g. desk chair, recliner, rocking chair)
  • Have a conversation about the vocabulary word when it occurs in various contexts throughout the day.  During the conversation, use the word frequently and allow time for the child to comment or question. The child may do this non-verbally by focusing attention or touching a particular aspect or feature of the word (object)
  • Use a song, rhyme, rap or chant that incorporates the vocabulary word 
  • Find the word or picture at home, school or in the community (attendance chart, grocery list, magazine, newspaper)
  • Make a book that features the vocabulary word using objects, pictures, tactile symbols, print or braille (e.g. a chair book, spoon book, ball book)
  • Make a book that is location specific (e.g. doctor's office, grocery store, beauty shop, church, temple)

Things to Consider

  • Does the child know the concept(s) related to the vocabulary? If not, have you planned how to teach the concept(s)?
  • Have you thought of all the ways the chosen vocabulary word can be used?  For example: The word WASH can be used to describe actions (wash clothes, wash bodies, wash objects) or as a noun ("in the wash" or "do the wash"). The word is also used in social terms, for example: "He's all washed up" (as in failure), "He washed out" (had an accident), "The creek washed out" (overflowed its banks) or "It's a wash" (it's finished). When you add "er," wash becomes an object: the washer.  Washers are also hardware items that go with nuts and bolts.
  • Are you presenting words in a consistent manner (e.g. font size, high contrast, braille, tactile symbol)?
  • Are you allowing enough practice time between new words?
  • Are you allowing enough wait (pause) time to allow the child to process the information?
  • If you choose a song, rap, rhyme or chant does the child respond with interest? Are the words easy to remember? Can the child easily engage in any actions?


Always Ask Yourself