The development of spelling and dictionary skills comes with practice, much like writing itself. For new writers, remembering the correct way to spell or search for commonly used words can be overwhelming when faced with a full dictionary as a resource. Fortunately, there are tools available to help beginner writers hold themselves accountable for spelling, and also develop the helpful skill of searching alphabetically.
Benefits of the Words I Use When I Write Booklet
A student tool called the Words I Use When I Write booklet could be a great resource for beginner writers looking to keep an individual list of commonly used words. The personal dictionary integrates well into both whole-language and phonetic-based instruction, offering approximately 30 words for each letter and spaces to customize the book and add additional words.
These small books also offer a useful reference section in the back, which includes lists of the following:
- Months of the year with abbreviations
- Days of the week with abbreviations
- Ordinal numbers
- Space for the names of friends, family, and pets
Starting the Development of Dictionary Skills
Learning to use a dictionary can be overwhelming when spelling and alphabetical order are not cemented concepts. The “Words I Use When I Write” booklet offers young students a chance to acquaint themselves with the concept of a dictionary in a much smaller and more manageable arena.
Tips for Introducing Dictionary Skills to First Graders:
- Practice alphabetizing small lists of words, giving students a visual to show why certain words come before others.
- Encourage students to sound out words and attempt spelling them before checking the spelling in the booklet or with a teacher.
- Add new vocabulary words to the “Words I Use When I Write” booklet in their proper place after discussing as a class how to find out where they belong.
The practice of using a dictionary aids in alphabetization skills, as they must find the right page and then use phonetic sounding skills to narrow the search to the word they are looking for. Instead of having to raise their hand to ask for help spelling a particular word, students with the “Words I Use When I Write” booklet can write and check their own spelling autonomously.