Vocabulary is the building block of language and a rich vocabulary is a good predictor of academic success.

There are gems of opportunities to build vocabulary simply by driving from one place to another.

In Johannesburg, traffic congestion is often caused by roadworks and building sites. However, the roadworks and building sites provide perfect opportunities for print awareness and building vocabulary for children.

Before children can learn to read, they need to develop an awareness of print and an understanding that the signs and symbols around them are meaningful. There are so many signs around along the road that you can use to help your child develop this skill. Draw your child’s attention to the different signage and their meanings.

road signs


road sign

Once you get to the road works you may see chevrons, traffic cones, workmen with protective clothing and fantastic equipment!


The success of Bob the Builder and love of LEGO® is testament to children’s fascination with building and construction.

Talking about the different machinery involved is a fantastic way to build depth of vocabulary. Scrapers, graders, rollers and pneumatic drills are exciting new vocabulary words.

Don’t shy away from words that you think are ‘too big’ for your child.  Building vocabulary not only refers to the definition of the word but knowing how the word fits into their world. If your child is interested, then give him or her the words to build his/her vocabulary.

Discuss the type of work that the different machines do. For example, the grader makes the road flat by clearing away the loose stones. The paver can then lay the new tar on the road, and the roller makes the tar smooth and flat. Apart from this lovely vocabulary, you can then talk about opposites.


Building sites along the road have scaffolding, cranes, cement mixers, and a whole host of verbs and signs that go along with them.


Driving in traffic is frustrating for everyone, so use the opportunity to build your child’s vocabulary. Roadworks and building sites are a way to grow and expand vocabulary.

You just need to look out of the window.

…….but you may land up with a back seat driver 😉

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