On of the early writing tools that we gave our children was the RIC Publications “My Desktop Dictionary”. It is simply a book of word banks – lists of associated words.
- Themes kids like to write about: beach, dinosaurs, earth, insects, library, transport, weather, just to name a few. For example under the heading of beach is listed words like: bucket, lifesaver, splash, towel, sand and more.
- Themes connected to their life: family, community, feelings, at school, animals, things I can do etc. For example under family is listed words like: aunt, uncle, grandad, mother etc.
- Themes that they need to refer to regularly: Words that sound the same, contractions, seasons, days of the week, numbers, shapes etc
- Alphabet pages – For example listed under “O” is o’clock, octopus, often, only, opened, opposite, outside, owl and many more. They also have plenty of space for the child to write words that they use and need help to spell correctly. Daniel’s “S” page is very full with words like spectacular, stream, strange, shipwreck, survive, scoop and so forth.
When the kids where learning to write, or having difficulty with spelling, I’d expect them to have their word bank dictionary with them when they sat down to write. When they can’t spell a word they are to see if it is already in their dictionary, if not, or if they can’t find it, they come to me and we work on either finding it or recording it in an appropriate place.
The benefits of having a word bank dictionary are:
- The child gets used to using a resource when they want to find information (how to spell a word – dictionary)
- Their vocab is expanded as they write about a theme, they can see all the other words they could incorporate into their writing piece
- Their spelling is improved as they consistently see words spelt correctly
- Their writing is improved as they don’t baulk over their spelling
I liked having a purchased dictionary – it gave the kids a sense of a real dictionary (they were 4-6years old when I gave it to them.) It became theirs. Their copies are very tattered now.
But there is no reason you can’t make your own. Actually, when Daniel is interested in a particular subject, or writing a story with a particular theme or setting we will brainstorm words and write up a word bank for him to refer to.
Word Bank Dictionaries (or simply word bank lists) are the first step towards teaching your children to use a dictionary. They empower the child because he has the information he needs right there at his finger tips – this independence in writing will encourage them to write more. A word bank dictionary will also help a student who is struggling to either spell or find words to use because once again all the ideas and prompts he needs are there at his fingertips.
Let me know if you decided to make one of your children a word bank dictionary and if it helped them at all.
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