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.
(This post was originally published on April 23, 2013).
So… do you consider yourself a natural speller? How about your kids? It’s true that the ability to spell comes easily to some kids and not so easily to others. I remember a first grade student who was a natural speller. At her parent teacher conference I asked which of her parents she inherited that gift from.
The answer was, “Both of us.”
Then her dad continued. “She’ll also inherit size 12 prom shoes.”
I guess that’s what happens when both of your parents are six feet tall!
Whether or not your child is a natural speller, these free printable spelling dictionaries are a fabulous resource.
How to use the spelling dictionaries
- If you are the parent of a preschooler or kindergartner, consider printing a book without the word lists. This way your child can be a word collector – spelling words as he hears them and writing words he already knows (his name, Mom, Dad, etc.).
Just yesterday my Four (almost five) was excitedly writing his own invented spellings. He spelled turtle “TRDL.” I thought that was fabulous! (Not so sure about invented spelling? Read my do’s and don’ts for invented spelling.)
- If you choose to print a dictionary with word lists, encourage your child to use it as a reference as he seeks the spellings of words commonly used in writing.
- Have your child use the lines as a recording space to write words he wants to use in his writing. “How do you spell ‘happy’?” (Encourage him to write the word on the “H” page as you give him the spelling, so he doesn’t need to ask again.)
- Let your child find his own use for the dictionary. 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. She was enthusiastic and stayed busy for a while.
How not to use the dictionaries
- Please don’t encourage your child to look up every word he wants to write. This will really slow down the creative process and make him dependent on spelling every word correctly before he’s ready to do that.
- Please encourage your child to “invent” spellings according to her ability. For example, I was thrilled when my Four spelled turtle “TRDL.” Look at how many sounds he puzzled out! He was learning much more about sounds by figuring out his invented spelling than by writing letters by rote as I dictated them, which would merely be handwriting practice.
Of course, if your child is truly ready to learn and remember a spelling, by all means supply the correct one.
Choose one of six versions!
When I first created these dictionaries, my oldest son was showing an increased interest in words. He asked about words in print and wanted to write notes to his sister. I knew it was time to give him a spelling dictionary, too. However, since he was reading very little, I did not want to give him a dictionary with word lists already included. Instead, I wanted him to puzzle out spellings on his own — while having a special place to house words that he uses a lot.
That’s why the first two versions have 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.
Version 1 has pictures and handwriting lines.
Version 2 has pictures and wide lines.
Version 3 has word lists, pictures and narrower handwriting lines.
Version 4 has word lists, pictures and wide lines.
Version 5has word lists, pictures, and narrow lines.
Version 6 has word lists and narrow lines.
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!
How to download, print, and assemble
A lot of people have contacted me because they were having trouble getting the dictionaries to print properly. I wrote this tutorial using the original versions of the post and printable, so keep that in mind as you view the tutorial. It will still work. 🙂
1. First, make sure you have Adobe Reader on your computer. It’s free, and you can get it here.
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.
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.”
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. Remember that these are the original versions of the dictionaries. The cover and inside pages are slightly different now.
So many freebies!
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