I was reminded recently of an article in the July/August issue of Homeschool Enrichment called Open Your Dictionary! (the educational value of your most common reference book) The author, Deana Blackburn, challenges us to use the dictionary for more than just looking up the occasional word or spelling. She makes reference to the fact that so many of us are accustomed to looking up definitions and spellings on line. If you think about it, that is OK especially for those of us who grew our vocabularies before the online age.
So, do you even have a copy of a print dictionary in your home? How many? What kind? Perhaps the most compelling reason to use a print dictionary is so kids can explore other words that surround the one they are after. Or if you are like me, then you’ll take a peek at a word that catches your eye on the way to the one in question.
The author goes on to list some assignments we can give to our children using a dictionary. I think I’m going to put together some independent assignments based on these recommendations.
The other day I had E10 correct a few spelling words. I had him use the dictionary and wouldn’t you know…he started reading to me some highlighted word origins on the same page. He read three of them and was so excited by the time he was finished that he asked me if could take the dictionary to bed with him. E10 reads by flashlight for about an hour each night and this night he wanted the dictionary. Be still my heart.
R8 had to correct an assignment she did for her weekly spelling. Her spelling words looked great, but other words were in correct. We used the dictionary to straighten things out although it turns out that she is mostly careless. When I sat with her she corrected all but one of her six words without using anything. If I could just get her to put it all together at the same time…that would be something!
In addition to the Websters College Dictionary we have (both Dan and I have) in our library, I purchased this dictionary for the younger set the first semester we homeschooled.
Have a long trip planned for Christmas? Take along the dictionary and make sure the electronic stuff is off. Then you have some trivia games using only our dictionary. Sound like loads of fun? The author of the article thought so. I might give this one some thought.
So, the next time your child needs to look up a word…try a print dictionary and in the meantime dream about the possibilities to expand your student’s knowledge base using this common reference item!