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Noah Webster and
His Dictionary


Subject:Language Arts,
Ed. Technology
Grade:6-8, 9-12

Brief Description
Students use library or online sources to create time lines about Noah Webster, who compiled the first American dictionary, and about the development of dictionaries.



  • define the word lexicographer.
  • learn about Noah Webster.
  • sequence historical events related to the life of Noah Webster and the development of dictionaries in chronological order.


dictionary, time line, Noah Webster, Internet, lexicographer

Materials Needed

  • student-researched library materials about Noah Webster and the development of dictionaries or printouts from the online sources listed in the lesson
  • dictionaries (one for every two or three students)
  • paper
  • pens or pencils
  • computer(s) with Internet access (optional)
  • PowerPoint program (optional)

Lesson Plan

  • Have students look up the meaning of the word lexicon and the suffix grapher. Write the word lexicographer on the board. Tell students to combine the meanings of lexicon and grapher to create a definition for the word lexicographer.
  • Explain to students that Noah Webster was a lexicographer who compiled the first American dictionary. Tell students they will use library or Internet sources to create time lines about the life of Noah Webster and the development of dictionaries.
  • Organize students into two groups. Have one group create time lines about Noah Webster. Have the other group create time lines showing the historical development of dictionaries. If your students have Internet access, they might start with the sites listed below. If Internet access is not available to everyone, print the information.

Noah Webster
Noah Webster and America's First Dictionary
Webster's Dictionary
A Brief History of English Lexicography
Dictionary Milestones


Evaluate students' time lines.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lois Lewis

National Standards

Language Arts:


Originally published 10/16/2000
Links last updated 05/28/2008