Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The idiom dictionary

It doesn't take much scanning to get a feel for how many idioms we use.  So, it's quite understandable that children, who are learning the regular meanings for words, get confused when we throw in idiomatic expressions.  Often without realizing that we're saying something quite complicated, we'll pepper the conversation with mystery.   While idioms are particularly challenging for autistic kids due to their varying adherence to concrete thinking, learning idioms is a challenge for every kid and... a fun parenting opportunity too :)

Enter the idiom dictionary!

Every week, I scan one of the sites and pick an idiom that refers to a concept within my son's conceptual grasp.  For example, I'll pick something like "back to square one" and skip things like "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush".

I write it at the top of the page and write a description along with an example at the bottom of the page.

I search google images for something that can illustrate the idiom and make the idea stick in my son's head.

That's it.  It takes all of ten minutes to do a page and you gradually have a richer and richer dictionary.  (I'm up to something like 50 pages.) I tend to leave a print out of the newest page at his place at the table or somewhere else he'll run across it and I love to hear the glee with which he reads them.  He seems to think people must be kidding if they're saying such silly things, but he's learning!  I occasionally print out the whole thing to share and it's less than two dollars to get a quick binding at an office store.

So, a few examples:

It's easy to see how much fun these can be and how easy it is to personalize them!  Cameron found the elephant ears quite amusing along with seeing pets he knew coming coming out of the sky :)  I've been quite impressed with the usefulness of the tool too.  Frequently, the lessons or component parts of idioms can be used as reference tools for a variety of otherwise unrelated explanations.  


  1. Great idea! One to add to the toolbox.

  2. Dear Rachel,
    Thank you for the idiom dictionary idea.
    I am always looking for ways to connect long distance with grand nieces and nephews. This will be fun. We come from a family where Mother always says, "Look up the word in the dictionary.".

  3. I'm glad everyone liked it... the book is getting rather thick! I keep giving away old copies and printing / binding updated ones.