Focus Question: How does exploring a dictionary help readers learn more about words?
Distribute the Word Cards worksheet (L-3-2-1_Word Cards.doc). Allow time for students to cut out the cards and arrange them in alphabetical order. Remind students that the words in a dictionary appear in alphabetical order.
If possible, provide each student with a dictionary. Have students browse through the dictionary. Show the following question on chart paper: “Why do we use a dictionary?”
Have students discuss how a dictionary is useful.
On the chart paper, record students’ responses, such as the following:
- to learn how to spell a word
- to learn how to pronounce a word correctly
- to find the definition of a word or to find out which definition of a word fits the context of what we are reading (multiple-meaning words)
- to find out how many syllables a word has
- to find out what part of speech a word is
- to find synonyms and antonyms for a word
Review the following terms:
- Pronunciation: The way a word is pronounced. A dictionary uses symbols to show the sounds of the letters in a word. Review a dictionary pronunciation key. Have students identify the sounds in the pronunciation key.
- Syllable: A word or part of a word spoken with a single sound. A dictionary generally uses dots between the syllables of a word. Have students practice clapping the number of syllables in various words.
- Synonym: A word that has the same or almost the same meaning as another word. A dictionary may list synonyms for a word. Have students give synonyms for words such as little/small, rock/stone, funny/silly.
- Antonym: A word that has the opposite meaning of another word. A dictionary may list an antonym for a word. Have students give antonyms for words such as happy/sad, short/tall, dark/light.
- Part of Speech: A group in which words are placed, depending on how they are used in a sentence. A dictionary indicates what part of speech a word is, such as noun, verb, or pronoun.
For the following activities, make sure students’ dictionaries list synonyms and antonyms.
Play Dictionary Race with students. Use the list of words you created as suggested in the Materials section. Read aloud each word, and time students to see how quickly they can find the words in the dictionary. In the beginning, tell students how to spell the words. Then tell students just the first few letters. By the end, see if students can find the words completely on their own.
- Make the Dictionary Race a race in which students compete against themselves. Tell them to try to improve their own time, not race against their classmates. You may need to have different lists for various students’ skill levels.
- Have students identify how many meanings a word has. Ask how they know which is the correct definition to choose.
- While students are playing Dictionary Race, take note of students who are successful at finding the words in the dictionary and students who need additional help.
Have students work in pairs to complete the Dictionary Scavenger Hunt (L-3-2-1_Dictionary Scavenger Hunt.doc). Walk around the room, monitoring students’ progress and providing assistance as needed. Take notes on how students work in groups, as well as on their understanding of dictionary skills.
Have students work in groups to share the answers they found in the Dictionary Scavenger Hunt. Remind students that their answers may not be the same, but that doesn’t mean that one person’s answers are wrong. Encourage students to revise their answers based on the group discussion.
Discuss classroom situations that would require students to use a dictionary. Encourage students to use a dictionary whenever they need one.
- Provide additional opportunities for learning by assigning a different student each day to come up with a “Word of the Day.” Tell the student to find a new vocabulary word and write the word and its definition and use the word in a sentence. Have the student post the word in the room. Allow the student to present the new word to the class.