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All About Words: Dictionary Activities!


FAOWCalling all wordsmiths! October 16 is Dictionary Day, named in honor of the birthday of that famous American wordsmith, Noah Webster. To recognize this special day, Education World offers eight lessons to involve students in using dictionaries! Included: Activities that teach guide words, involve young students in creating picture dictionaries and playing a dictionary game, and much more!

  • What do the letters ZIP in the word Zip Code stand for?
  • What is a shaddock?
  • What does the word somnambulate mean?

    Where can your students find the answers to those and other baffling word questions? Check the dictionary!

    Celebrate the wonder of words! Encourage the future lexicographers in your classroom with the lessons below. A brief description is provided for each lesson. Click any headline for a complete teaching resource.


  • The letters ZIP in the word Zip Code stand for "Zone Improvement Plan."
  • A shaddock is tropical tree that grows in southeastern Asia. The shaddock is related to the grapefruit.
  • Somnambulate means "to sleepwalk."

    Guide Word Game

    Show and Tell
    Do you have a favorite lesson or game for building vocabulary or dictionary skills? Click to join the conversation.
    Students play a timed word game to locate guide words in a dictionary. (3-5, 6-8)

    Guide Word Sentences
    Students write sentences using dictionary guide words, putting two guide words in the same sentence. (3-5, 6-8)

    Using Dictionary Entries
    Students answer work sheet questions about dictionary entries. (3-5, 6-8)

    Sound It Out
    Students match phonetic spellings with real spellings of words on a dictionary page. (3-5, 6-8)

    Up from the Roots
    Students create new words by combining root words and/or short words. (3-5, 6-8)

    Create a Word
    Students brainstorm new words for a class dictionary! (3-5, 6-8, 9-12)

    My Own Picture Dictionary
    Students create a personal picture dictionary. (Pre-K, K-2)

    Noah Webster and His Dictionary
    Students use library or online sources to create time lines about Noah Webster, who compiled the first American dictionary, and the development of dictionaries. (6-8, 9-12)

    Additional Resources from Education World

    Oh, My Words! Great Word Sites on the Net!

    Happy Birthday, Noah Webster!

    Education World Celebrates Noah Webster's Birthday

    ABC Books Aren't for Babies!

    Article by Lois Lewis
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2008 Education World

    Originally published 10/16/2000
    Links last updated 09/23/2008