Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Little Lexicographer - Creating a Pretend Dictionary

My kindergartener has a love of words or, more accurately, a love of made-up words. She's not able to sit down and write words by sounding them out yet, but lately she's shown a lot of interest in arranging letters together to form pretend words. After she finishes writing her string of letters, she asks, "Mommy, what does this say?" We sound the word out together and laugh. She originally created a lot of words with only consonants, until I explained to her that all words usually contain vowels between the consonants. Our pretend word play turned into a simple lesson about vowels and consonants, and I provided her with a list of the vowels to use as a reference when making up words.

Here are a few of her made-up dictionary entries:

Eef: a type of lettuce that looks like a leaf

Amomilis: a kind of fruit that looks like a blueberry that grows on a pink bush. They are smaller than your pinky. If you drop one, it will disappear.

Coymix: type of food you need to mix. Need to make sure it doesn't have too much sugar because it might get very tall and all messy. It's a different kind of cake that has nuts in it.

Cobwixu: type of animal like a giraffe but it doesn't have any spots.

Hewtus: kind of flower, but if you try to pick it, it might stink you. Has a very stinky smell.

My daughter drew accompanying illustrations for each of her entries. Below I've included a few of her completed pages with illustration.

Most kids I know find dictionaries fascinating. Every home library should include include at least one printed dictionary, preferably more. Yesterday, I read an article in the Washington post titled, "Internet may phase out printed Oxford Dictionary." (Today the Oxford University Press issued a statement contradicting all the online buzz that they plan to stop printing the dictionary.) I use online dictionaries quite often when trying to find the correct spelling or meaning of a word, but I've never referenced the OED, print or online. However, we do own a massively large, one volume Webster's Third New International Dictionary and even though it is not as complete as the 20 volume Oxford English Dictionary, it is still very fun to browse though and use as reference. Last year we referred to the print dictionary several times when trying to think of an object that my daughter could take for her "starts with the letter -" weekly show and tell. My daughter also likes to look at all the words in her own copy of The Sesame Street Dictionary and view all the interesting color illustrations. Maybe we have a future lexicographer in the family.

Do you have a dictionary loving kid in your home? If so, you should encourage them to try creating a pretend dictionary of their own!


Christy Killoran said...

The internet will not phase out much for me. I love books in their proper form, including dictionaries! I think we have four dictionaries in our house. I love the idea of making up a dictionary! Very clever. My kids love to call out a bunch of random letters and ask me what they spell all together - most often they do not spell a real word, so this is perfect for those made up words! Thanks.

Christianne @ Little Page Turners said...

Love it! She'll be a natural at Balderdash. :) E loves the hand-me-down dictionary we received recently. She comes by in honestly - I asked for an unabridged dictionary for my 17th birthday.

Amy said...

what a great learning tool. Yes, the Mickey Mouse was a fun set for sure..

Melissa Taylor said...

This is such a brilliant idea! Can grown-ups make one, too??


April said...

Wow, that is precious. I would keep that forever. I remember when I was a little I would combine a bunch of letters and then ask my grandma what it spelled. Then she would say it didn't spell anything but I wasn't convinced, I would say "there are like hundreds of words out there, it has to spell something" lol.

Thank you for linking up this great post :)

Gidget Girl Reading said...

great ideas we have several dictionaries but we just might have to start a pretend dictionary.