Reading Skills can be found in a Dictionary
- How many of you have a dictionary in the house?
- How many of you think having a dictionary is necessary in this internet age?
- How many of you struggle to use a dictionary?
Vocabulary and Reading Skills through Auditory Processing: as a Reading Specialist, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of building a large vocabulary. You may be asking, “Well, how do I do that?” Vocabulary building begins at birth. Talk to your baby. Sing to your baby. READ to your baby. Language is first learned by hearing it. Don’t ignore this important feature. You may think, “How ridiculous. My baby doesn’t understand my words!” They may not understand as babies, but they are hearing the sounds of language, the structure of language, and eventually they will come to associate meaning. For example, you may say to your baby or young child, “Look at this pretty red ball,” as you hold up the ball for them to see. They will come to associate the word ‘ball’ with the image of the actual ball. This is the beginning.
Vocabulary and Comprehension: As your child progresses through school, there will be the need to look up words and their definitions across the curriculum from reading, to math, to science, to social studies. There will be an increasing need to gain understanding of words in order to comprehend and exercise higher order thinking skills.
When I conducted reading groups, I always had an age appropriate dictionary/picture-nary at the reading table starting by second grade. We even had lessons that focused on the use of a dictionary. There are several underlying skills necessary such as knowing the alphabet and order/sequencing and matching.
- Put labels using post-its or index cards, on things around the house. Match that word in a dictionary. Include extension activities such as taking all the words and asking them to put them in alphabetical order, or arrange from smallest to largest in word length, or sort them by beginning letter.
- Have your child make their own Picture-nary. Start with words from their favorite books. Have them write the word and then either draw a picture that represents that word or find a picture in a magazine or on the computer. It is especially helpful to make their own ‘sight word’ picture-nary. Sight words are hard to define. For example: write the word ‘and’. Next to the word, include a picture to represent that word using imagery.
- Post a ‘word for the day’ somewhere in the house. Your child needs to find that word in the dictionary and relay the meaning. A good way to do this is to have them write a sentence using the word so that it demonstrates the word’s meaning.
- Want a fun family night vocabulary building activity? I call it ‘Mystery Word Detective.’ My older students and second language learners loved this activity. Everyone who is participating, sits in a group. Preferably a circle. One person is designated as ‘it.’ Without ‘it’ seeing, another member of the group puts a post-it note with a word written on it, on the back of the person who is ‘it.’ Place it up high enough to be easily read by the members in the group. ‘It’ starts walking by each person in the group. The group member’s responsibility [one at a time] is to give a clue to the ‘it’ person about the word. Do not say the word however. One clue per rotation. ‘It’ has to solve the mystery and identify the word on their back by putting all the clues together to come up with the mystery word. Clues such as, ‘category’, ‘beginning letter’, ‘number of letters in the word’…be creative but don’t give the answer away! Keep a dictionary handy to look up any meanings for unknown words.
Research shows that the larger the vocabulary the more successful the reader.