Grade: Elementary

#2262. Dictionary Dig

Reading/Writing, level: Elementary
Posted Mon May 21 08:13:13 PDT 2001 by Holly Mohler (
Cedarville University, Cedarville, USA
Materials Required: Notecards, paper plates, dictionary for each student
Activity Time: 30-40 minutes
Concepts Taught: Learning to Use the Dictionary

The teacher needs to have 26 note cards with a different letter on each one prepared for each student.
The teacher also needs to have several sets of guide words written on paper plates and several note cards (at least one for each student) with words written on them that can be alphabetized underneath them.

Students will practice their alphabetizing skills by alphabetizing words from the dictionary.
Given several sets of guide words and several words the students will be able to put the words under the correct guidewords using their alphabetizing skills.
Students will practice looking up words in the dictionary by finding a word for each letter of the alphabet using the dictionary.

Notecards 3x5
Paper plates (4-7)
Dictionary for each student

The Lesson:
Introductory Activity:
Begin the session by writing a word on the white board that students are not familiar with at all. Pronounce the word for them and ask them what they think it means. Field several answers. Ask students where the think they could look to find out what this means. Once a student says the dictionary, pass out a dictionary to every student, and have them look the word up and tell the definition to their neighbor.

Step-by-step Procedure:

Step 1: Hand out 26 note cards to each student. They should have one letter of the alphabet written on each note card. Explain to students that the dictionary is set up alphabetically. Practice having them find a few words in the dictionary before turning them lose for the activity.
Step 2: Have students find one word for every letter of the alphabet and write it on that letter's card on the front. On the back have them write the page number where the found the word.
Step 3: Have each student trade their set of cards with another student and alphabetize the words using the front of the card only. Once they think they have them alphabetized correctly have them bring the cards up to the teacher or trade back with the student depending on the class. The person checking the cards flips the cards over and the cards should be in numerical order if they are alphabetized correctly.
Step 4: Once the cards are alphabetized have the student write their name on the top card and turn them into you for double checking. This way you can check students work if a student checked it, and you can use them later at a learning center focusing on alphabetizing if you want.
Step 5: Gather the class back together and explain the purpose of the guide words in a dictionary and where they are located.
Step 6: Give each student one or two note cards with various words written on them. Place the paper plates with the guide words written on them on the chalk board. Explain to students that they will come up three at a time and place their words under the correct guide word plate. (Have them come up in groups of threes that way you can assess students understanding of the use of guide words)

Extension Activities:
You could place the note cards used in the alphabetizing activity at a learning center for students to practice with later.
You could use the guide word activity as an inter-active bulletin board. Students could look up more words to fit under the guide words and add them to the bulletin board as they find them.

Students will be evaluated as they give you the cards they alphabetized. Students will also be evaluated by whether or not they placed their note cards under the correct guide word. Students will be evaluated on whether or not they found one word for each letter of the alphabet and you can ensure that they found it using the dictionary by checking the page number on the back of the note card.

What was good about the lesson?
What would I do differently next time?