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Celebrate National Dictionary Day!
Word Lovers, Dictionary Day is Your Holiday!
October 16, the birthday of Noah Webster, is Dictionary Day in America. Show your appreciation for this most useful of reference books by celebrating Dictionary Day with your children --learn some new words, learn how dictionaries came to be, spruce up your dictionary skills, or even create your own dictionary!
How should we celebrate Dictionary Day? Here are some ways to enjoy the contents of a dictionary --- the thousands of words in our English language.
1. Enjoy Nonsense Words
Read Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky (a copy in PDF) and mark all the words you cannot find in a dictionary. Discuss his invented words. What do they mean? What parts of speech are they? Do they remind you of any real words that you could find in a dictionary? Create a dictionary for Jabberwocky with the meanings you think the nonsense words have.
2. Learn Some New Words
HONORIFICABILITUDINITATIBUS -- with honor
FUSTIGATE - to cudgel or beat
BEJUGGLE - to outwit by trickery or deception; to cheat
Then at Unusual Words , I found even more:
BATRACHOPHAGOUS - one who eats frogs
PANDICULATION - stretching and yawning before going to bed or when waking
ULOTRICHOUS - having very wooly hair
You can also subscribe to various word of the day feeds (in your feed reader or by email) such as the ones I've included below.
Or just browse through your dictionary for something that catches your eye.
3. Play the Dictionary Game
You need paper, pencils, and a dictionary. The object of the game is to guess the correct meaning of a word while tricking your opponents to select a false definition that you made up! To play, each player takes turns choosing a difficult word from the dictionary. The word chooser writes the word's correct definition on one slip of paper and two false, but believable, definitions on two other slips of paper. Then the other player must select the correct meaning! There are many variations of this game, and you can modify the rules as you choose. The main thing is to enjoy the words you find in a dictionary!
You can even play this online dictionary game.
The History of the Dictionary in America
Driven by a desire to unify the American way of speaking and spelling English, Noah Webster started work on the first American dictionary at age 43. He thought Americans should have their own distinctly American (rather than British) way of spelling, pronouncing, and using words. But at that time, Americans in different regions had no unifying standard of language. Webster's dictionary was the first step in changing that.
After 27 years of labor In 1783, Noah Webster created what is considered to be the first dictionary of America. It had 70,000 words in it. It's no accident that National Dictionary Day is on Noah Webster's birthday! He is the father of the American dictionary.
Noah Webster Printables
1. For a wide variety of kid-friendly printables visit this page dedicated to Noah Webster.
2. For a kid friendly biography plus some printables related to Noah Webster, visit Garden of Praise.
3. For a three page, interesting biography of Webster look at this PDF.
Click on the link to visit Merriam-Webster's wonderful Timeline from Noah Webster to Merriam-Webster
For an interesting video from TED, watch Erin McKean redefine the dictionary. From the website: "Is the beloved paper dictionary doomed to extinction? In this infectiously exuberant talk, leading lexicographer Erin McKean looks at the many ways today's print dictionary is poised for transformation."
Why Use a Dictionary? - What can a dictionary tell you?
Ask your children this question on Dictionary Day. How many uses of the dictionary do they know? Then try some of the dictionary skills worksheets and activities below to make sure they know how to use a dictionary to do these things.
the spelling of a word
the origins of a word
the meaning(s) of a word
derivatives of a word (the root plus any added suffixes)
the history of a word
the part of speech of a word
the abbreviation of a word
the capitalization of a word
the syllable divisions of a word
the pronunciation of a word
synonyms and antonyms for a word
how to spell any irregular forms of a word (such as plurals or past tenses of verbs)
Besides doing dictionary skills worksheets, there are some fun and creative ways to interact with the dictionary on Dictionary Day or any day.
1. Create your own dictionary. Use words you like, new vocabulary from a book you're reading, or funny words you'd like to start using. Make a minibook and fill it in in the same style as a dictionary would. Young children can make a picture dictionary.
2. Create your own word of the day calendar. Use the printable monthly calendars at Incomptech or at Print Free. Or you could use a spiral bound set of index cards and make a daily calendar to sit on your desk or kitchen table.
3. Have a dictionary race. Give each participant a dictionary. Call out a word and see who can find it first. You could also ask for some type of detail about the word that the dictionary will tell.
4. Set up a dictionary treasure hunt. Use sticky notes to create clues inside a dictionary. Follow the clues, word by word until you find the final treasure word. Read directions here.
Noah Webster Said
"Language is not an abstract construction of the learned, or of dictionary makers, but is something arising out of the work, needs, ties, joys, affections, tastes, of long generations of humanity, and has its bases broad and low, close to the ground"
Spruce Up Your Dictionary Skills - Printable Dictionary Skills Worksheets
Free worksheets to print and use for dictionary lessons.
- TLS Books -- Free Dictionary Skills Pages
Scroll down about 3/4ths of the page to Dictionary Skills Worksheets. There are three nice PDF files that include answer keys!
- Oxford University Press
Fantastic freebie!! An entire collection of 52 printable PDF files that cover all types of dictionary and thesaurus skills. This is a complete dictionary study.
- Dictionary Skills for Teens and Adults
This is a more advanced dictionary activity and is designed to go along with the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners.
- Reading the Dictionary
This lengthy PDF appears to be an appendix from a textbook. It's a full color document that goes through several dictionary entries with exercises to complete. This is a bit challenging; I'd say that at the youngest, this would work for a middle scho
- Enchanted Learning
Dictionary scavenger hunts and worksheets that are especially good for young learners.
- Reading Dictionaries
A free excerpt from an Evan Moor publication, these worksheets are for grades 1-3.
- Scholastic Dictionary Skills
A freebie of two pages, suitable for grades 3-8.
for elementary students grades 3-6
middle-grade and junior high students
for high school through adulthood