Archive for the ‘vocabulary’ Category

Use 13 Words by Lemony Snicket to Model Vocabulary Through Context

February 8, 2011

I don’t usually review books here on Literacy Toolbox. Instead I tend to save book reviews for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. More often than not, as I read a picture book, I read it with an educator frame. In other words, how can I use this book in the classroom? And so, books I review tend to find themselves on my educator blog.

However, I have come across several books lately that I feel parents would find helpful as well. So, this month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share books or apps that I have recently read and/or played with my kids.

13 Words by Lemony Snicket

“>When I was offered the opportunity to review the book 13 Words by Lemony Snicket, I jumped! It sounded intriguing. Using only thirteen words, this master author wove a story that engages children. I wondered how it was possible to create something engaging with only thirteen words. Lemony Snicket did it. My original misunderstanding was that the author only used thirteen words. This is not the case. Instead, he introduces a new word on each page, and effectively weaves that new word into the story he has created.

Not only is13 Words engaging, but it teaches vocabulary, too. My seven year old read it aloud to me and we discussed several of the words he may not have known (panache, haberdashery, mezzo-soprano, and despondent). The wonderful thing about this book is that Snicket defined the words within the context of the story. So, though my son may not have known the word despondent prior to reading, he was able to pick up the meaning of the word through the context as well as the pictures. I, of course, took the opportunity to discuss the meaning of the words with him.

I would recommend reading this book with children in second grade or older. This is a fantastic book to introduce new vocabulary to your child. Additionally, there are many other ways you can use it in the classroom or at home if you so choose. Snicket has a way of circling the story back around. Therefore, it could be used as a model text for circular endings in writer’s workshop. Most obviously, this book can be used as a vocabulary enhancer and for use when discussing word choice with students. Check out Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books next month where I provide a lesson idea on how to use this book to enhance your Six Traits of Writing lessons for word choice.

Disclosure: We received this book to review from a publicist.

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Developing Preschoolers’ Vocabulary Through Read Alouds

April 27, 2010

We’ve all heard that when children are young, their minds are like sponges.  We want to fill their brain with background knowledge and vocabulary so that they may easily use this knowledge when necessary.  Reading aloud is an excellent way to help build your child’s vocabulary.  Your child will certainly learn new words just by listening and through every day conversation, but here are a few tips to help build your child’s vocabulary explicitly through read alouds:

  • Begin with high-frequency sight words when reading with preschoolers.  These are the words that appear frequently in writing, but are less common in every day conversation.  Children should be able to say the word on sight.  These words are essential to vocabulary development.
  • Use the pictures to help your child make connections to word meanings.  Point to the picture in the text when reading an unknown word.
  • If you come across a word when reading, and you aren’t sure if your child knows what it means, ask him.  This is a perfect opportunity to provide quick vocabulary instruction.  A one to two sentence explanation may be sufficient enough.
  • If your child still has difficulty with vocabulary words, consider creating pictures (either drawing them or printing them online) to help make connections between words and their meanings.  Also consider labeling items in your house (banister, stairs, fireplace, chair, etc.)
  • Word learning is enhanced through repeated readings of text, which provides opportunities to revise and refine word meanings (Kindle, 2009; Carey, 1978).  So, even though you may get tired of reading the same story over and over again, your child is actually morphing through several stages of word knowledge as you do: from never heard it, to sounds familiar, to it has something to do with, to well known (Kindle, 2009; Dale, 1965).

Most important of all: don’t be afraid to read books that have large words in them. Fancy Nancy is a great series of books for girls that provide explicit vocabulary instruction through the story.  I know a few preschool girls who use words like “exquisite” and “furious” – and they use them correctly!

This post was inspired by: Vocabulary Development During Read Alouds: Primary Practices by Karen J. Kindle (The Reading Teacher, 2009).

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.