Printable Spelling Dictionary for Kids

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve seen a lot of Letter of the Week crafts, reading lists, fine motor activities, and math connections.  I’ve also shared a few resources I’ve created to help my 4 1/2-year-old learn to read.

This week I’m beginning a new venture — teaching my children to love writing.   I look forward to sitting down to have regular writing time with my Four and Six — and showing you just what that looks like.

As a classroom teacher, I made Writing Workshop a regular part of my schedule – whether I taught grades 3-5 (as I did for three years), or grades 1-2 (as I did for five years).  I found that the more time and instruction I gave, the greater the likelihood that my students would love to write.

I want so much to foster that same love of writing in my own children.

One thing all writers love is words.  So I created a printable spelling dictionary so my children would have a special place to keep them.

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 My daughter, just finishing kindergarten, turned six last week.  One of her presents was a large box full of fun tools for writing. I called it a Writer’s Toolbox.  In the box was a spelling dictionary that I created.  It serves two purposes:

1) Its word lists are a resource for children as they seek the spellings of words commonly used in writing.

2) It is a recording space for children to write the spellings of words they want to use in their writing.

The dictionary should not be used in this way:

1) To slow down a child’s writing because she is looking up every word she wants to write.

2) To set up the expectation that every word in the dictionary should be spelled correctly in the child’s writing.

3) To discourage a child from “inventing” spellings according to her ability.

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Here are sample pages from My Spelling Dictionary.

Lately my Four has shown an increased interest in words.  He asks about words in print and wants to write notes to his sister.   I knew it was time to give him a spelling dictionary, too.   However, since my son is reading very little, I did not want to give him a dictionary with word lists already included.  Instead, I want him to puzzle out spellings on his own — while having a special place to house words that he uses a lot.

The spelling dictionary for preschool kids up through first grade has just the letters and a picture clue on each page.  I included pictures for the long and short vowel sounds as well as pictures for the hard and soft sounds of C and G.

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Here are sample pages from My First Spelling Dictionary.

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To assemble the dictionaries, you will need to print the document front to back and staple with a long-armed stapler.  Today, while my One and Two were napping, I sat at the kitchen table with my Four and Six.  They each brought a sharpened pencil and a new spelling dictionary.

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I showed my Four how he could record words he knows on the proper pages.  He got right to work with “CAT.”

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As it turned out, he was interested in spelling the name of each page’s picture clue.  Normally I would want young children to streeeetch out the sounds and write what they hear — whether or not the final spelling is accurate. But because this is a spelling resource, today I helped him spell each word correctly.  He was thoroughly engaged and could come up with many of the correct letters himself.

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While I was working with my Four, my daughter was busy copying words from the word lists.  This was not my intent when I created the dictionary, but who am I to get in the way of child-led spelling practice?  When she wondered what to do next, I suggested she get out her new picture dictionary and find words she wanted to record in her spelling dictionary. She was enthusiastic and stayed busy for a while.

After about 2o minutes, the kids were done writing words, and we put the dictionaries away.  These will be a resource as we begin our own Writing Workshop at the kitchen table.   (If you’re not sure what Writing Workshop is, check the comments section below!)

Whether you are a classroom teacher, homeschooling parent, or a parent (like me) who seeks to supplement your child’s school education, I hope you will find these dictionaries useful!  I’d love to hear from you.

Get My First Spelling Dictionary HERE.

Get My Spelling Dictionary HERE.

A few people have e-mailed me to say that the narrow lines of My Spelling Dictionary are hard for their kids to write on. They asked to have the dictionary available as full size pages instead of half sheets. Since that would essentially mean recreating the whole dictionary, I have done the next best thing: making the lines wider. You can get that option by clicking on the link below.

 Get My Spelling Dictionary with wide lines HERE.

How to print the Spelling dictionary:

A lot of people have contacted me because they were having trouble getting the dictionaries to print properly. I hope this tutorial is helpful! 

1. First, make sure you have Adobe Reader on your computer. It’s free, and you can get it here.

print spelling dictionary 1

2. Do NOT left click on the “HERE” button to print.  This works for most of my printables, but for this one you can’t find the right option for printing front to back.  Instead, RIGHT click and “save as” to your computer.  Put it in a place you’ll find it. I put things in my downloads folder. You might also save to your desktop.

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3. Now find the file and open with Adobe Reader.  I went to my Downloads folder.  Then I right clicked on the file name, hovered over “open with” and left clicked on “Adobe Reader.”

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4. The file will look like this.  Now it’s time to print.  Of course you will not want to print the first page – as you can see, that’s my Terms of Use.

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5. Under  print options, print pages 2-15, click “print on both sides” and make sure you “flip on the short edge.” (Otherwise the pages will be upside down on the backs.)  When all these are checked, print.  I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

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If you’re having any other difficulty, click on the image below.  And if you’re still having trouble, leave me a comment.  I’ll see it. ;)

need help downloading

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  1. Stephanie says

    This is great, I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog on pinterest. This may be a silly question, but I’m wondering if the Writing Workshop you mentioned is a curriculum you purchased or if it’s something you made up? Writing (not handwriting) is not a strong area for me, at least in teaching it, so I’m looking for some resources I can use.

    • annageig says

      Hello, Stephanie!
      That is such a great question, and I am going to go back into the other post to clarify.

      First of all, I understand that writing is not a strong area for you because that’s true for most people. That’s why, I think, most people teach writing with just a prompt; they truly don’t know what else to do.

      Writing Workshop is not a curriculum; it’s just a way of teaching writing developed by an amazing educator named Lucy Calkins. It looks different in different grade levels, but this is the general idea:

      a) Teacher (or homeschooling parent) gives a mini-lesson. Here are sample lessons for different age levels:
      prek: draw a picture and write one letter to label the picture.
      Kindergarten: how to stretch out a word and write the sounds you hear.
      1st & 2nd grade: how to brainstorm to get writing ideas
      3rd & 4th: how to choose more interesting words for your writing

      b) Give the kids lots of time to write. On any given day they may be: coming up with a new idea, writing about that idea, revising their work (changing it to make it better), editing their work (fixing spelling and grammar), or publishing their work (rewriting it or typing up their final copy).

      c) While kids are writing, you step in to “conference” – talk to them about what they’re doing and give assistance. In a classroom, a teacher walks around the room, keeping track of whom she’s talked with and taking notes about what to check for the next time she meets with those students. A homeschooling parent would offer encouragement and suggestions, but would not hover.

      d) Kids would share what they’ve written — in a classroom, just a few kids would share, or kids would share with buddies. At home the child could save his work to share with Daddy or a sibling.

      Here are some links that might help you:

      And here are some excellent resources:
      The Art of Teaching Writing, by Lucy Calkins (a fat book! but really, truly excellent if you have time for it)

      Mini-Lessons for (K, 1st grade, 2nd grade, etc.) Here’s a link: — these books are much shorter and very practical

      Can I ask if you are a classroom teacher or a homeschooling parent?

      I do plan to offer mini-lessons in the near future. I may be working with another blogger to develop those, so please check back! If you follow by e-mail, you won’t miss it :)

  2. says

    I love it! Pinned! I showed my daughter and she’s very excited about this. We have a little spelling reference book that was her brothers that she has at school that she uses quite a bit. She has wanted one for home and I think this is perfect. I love that it has room to add words. I am sure it will be filled by summer’s end!
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  3. Conny says

    I will adapt them to use the dictionary resources in German :) Here children don’t go to school before they are 6 or 7 years old. Most of the kids haven’t learned how to read or write before school and I am not sure it might make primary school experience better or boring if they know how to do it. We have great schools too and teachers, but they often aren’t prepared to deal with “clever” children or those who wanted to learn things earlier and did so. Differentiating (?) tasks.. no clue how its called in English … I mean tasks that are so to say customized for the individual kids are still not used enough. Anyway, my four-year old loves to copy letters, I will just try and see how she likes doing it in a more structured and guided way. Thanks so much!!

    • annageig says

      Hi Conny — I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you. In your comment you talked about differentiating instruction (that’s what we call it here) in Germany – that teachers aren’t often prepared to do it. It’s definitely something we learn here as we study to be teachers, but in practice I’d say not many teachers actually do it. It’s much easier to have everyone do the same thing. When I taught I varied instruction for my students, but I had a hard time convincing my co-workers to give it a try.

      As for teaching kids too much before school so that they are bored… I’ve heard that before, but in my experience it doesn’t hold. My daughter was reading fluently before kindergarten – she has a great teacher, but she doesn’t differentiate instruction – and she loves school. When I taught the really bright kids (who also were well behaved) I was able to challenge them and they read in their spare time or did their own projects.

      Anyway — hope your 4 year old can use the dictionary!

    • annageig says

      You’re so welcome, Erin – thanks for linking to my guest post at This Reading Mama and to the dictionary!

  4. Natalia Krapivina says

    I’m sorry cannot download My first spelling dictionary for pre K kids, how can I get it please?

  5. says

    HI! I super love this! But unfortunately, when i downloaded the pdf. the letters and some pictures didnt show. Can you suggest something i can do? Thanks sooo much:)

  6. aimee says

    Thank you so much for this wonderful resource! I’m sure my children will benefit from your spelling dictionaries. THANK YOU!

  7. says

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this resource. I have been looking for something like this for awhile. I have a fourth grader, so some of the words are a little easy, but he has plenty of space to write in his own words.

    • Anna Geiger says

      Yes, I used words from a list of “most commonly used words” in children’s writing. So I debated whether to keep some of those simple ones in there but in the end used them all. I’m glad you can use it, Tabitha!

  8. Shonda says

    OK, I’m not sure how to print this. I have an old printer and so I have to do everything manually meaning I print a page and then have to take it out and put it back in to print double sided. So is the title page part of the book or do I start printing double sided with the letter page? Are page 3/4 back and to back and 5/6 back to back. Like that? I am really confused! Sorry!

    • Anna Geiger says

      Sorry it’s confusing, Shonda! The very first page is my Terms of Use. So just skip that. You will start with page 2, which is the cover of the book and part of it. So page 2 is the first page, and 3 goes on the back of it. If you print all the even pages first, reinsert the stack, and then print all the odd pages (starting with page 3, since page 1 is Terms of Use), it should work. Have I confused you more?

  9. Jenny Emmerson says

    Can you please tell me which picture dictionary you have in the last photo? Is it Scholastic? Thank you.

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    • Anna Geiger says

      I’m so glad, Kristina! Have you printed and assembled it yet? A reader was having trouble even with the tutorial, so I hope it’s easy to put together!

  11. Ashley says

    You are AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing this fabulous resource that clearly took you a great amount of time and effort to create. Many thanks! :)

    • Anna Geiger says

      Thanks so much, Ashley – your comment made my day. :) I love making this sort of thing, and the time is worth it when lots of people can benefit. So glad you can use it!

  12. Hilary Bernstein says

    I have been looking for a spelling dictionary like this for a long time. It is perfect for primary grade children! Thank you

  13. Tony Wong says

    Thank you so much for creating and sharing this resource! The dictionaries looks great and I’m sure they will be extremely useful in my classroom! Thanks for including three options as well! :)

  14. Peggy Herrick says

    Thank you ~ This is exactly what our 7 year old granddaughter needed to take her writing and reading to the next level.

  15. Lindsey says

    Thanks for this great resource! A regular dictionary, even a child’s dictionary, is too much for my son right now, so maybe this will give him a resource that is right at his level.

  16. Clarissa says

    Thank you so much for making these dictionaries! They are a great resource! Is it possible for me to switch the the clipart around so that I may use these dictionaries to help my nephew and niece study Spanish? Through a program like Photoshop or MS Word?

    • Anna Geiger says

      Hi Clarissa! Unfortunately, that would not be legal since you haven’t purchased rights to the clip art. I secure my pdf files for that reason. It’s in the Terms of Use for the clipart I purchase and use.

      • Clarissa says

        Thank you for your quick reply. Haha.. I probably shouldn’t have skimmed the Terms so quickly. Thank you anyways. :)

  17. George says


    Thank you for the resource.

    Both spelling books are very nice.

    A few constructive comments:

    In the My First Spelling Book, the lines are very large and not divided.
    For the very young age that is learning to place side of hand on paper and only move fingers, ½ inch or about 12 mm is a good line height. Adding a colored red dotted dash and a blue top line and green bottom line, may make the writing of letters more understandable and more inviting. This will hopefully help in making the short letters and tall letters easier to make. Then spacing these colored lines a ¼ inch apart will help the child understand letters with tails.

    Kids of ALL ages love color. In the example words, by making the vowels or vowel teams a color may help a child remember the most difficult part of English spelling, which grapheme to match up with a vowel sound (phoneme) whether this is a diphthong vowel sound or a monophthong vowel sound.

    Also adding a few simple examples in the CVC pattern would by nice in the My First Spelling Book.

    Many other ways could be used to pop the difficult to spell parts of English words. But this may clutter your cute little books.

    Again, I love the little books.


    • Anna Geiger says

      HI George,

      Thanks for your suggestions! This is by far the most time consuming of all my printables, taking tens of hours to make and put together… so I am not looking at updating it in the near future. But I will certainly keep your suggestions in mind!


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