Childrens Picture Dictionary

girl writing in large book

A children's picture dictionary helps children see what a word means, even if they are not ready to read a full definition in a larger dictionary yet. Perfect for kindergarten and first grade pre-readers, they help build vocabulary and spelling skills.

Picture Dictionary Elements

A picture dictionary is a book that lists words in alphabetical order, using a picture to show what the word represents or means. Words included in the dictionary usually include nouns and verbs, which include people, places and things that are easily represented by a picture.

A good picture dictionary includes words used in children's everyday language. Teachers often look for dictionaries that include words found in thematic units in school, whereas parents might look for a dictionary that has broad range of words covering a variety of topics.

Large print and good spacing in the dictionary's organization makes it easy for children to use them. When purchasing a children's dictionary, look for one that has areas for children to add their own vocabulary words. This allows the dictionary to grow along with the child.

How to Make a Children's Picture Dictionary

Compiling a list of words that children struggle with is a good way to enhance their vocabulary and reading skills. Reading is an important skill and a picture dictionary supplements the learning process. Kids can use their homemade picture dictionaries throughout the summer, adding words they learn during summer reading programs.

Building a personalized children's dictionary is a great activity for kids to do in school or at home. Several methods of making a children's picture dictionary are available, depending on your personal circumstances.

Individual Dictionary

Supplies

  • Three-ring binder
  • Journal pages with blank spaces and lines
  • Tabs
  • Photos, magazine pictures or drawing supplies
  • Three-hole paper punch

Instructions

  1. Along with the child, write a list of words that will be included in the dictionary.
  2. Alphabetize the words in the list.
  3. Write each word down on a line next to a blank space. Leave approximately 10 blank spaces at the end of each letter group, so the child can add more words later.
  4. Add a graphic that depicts each word. The graphic can be a photo, drawing by the child or a picture from a magazine.
  5. Punch holes in each paper and place in the three-ring binder.
  6. Label the tabs with each letter of the alphabet and use them to mark each new letter group.

A bound journal for children is another way to create a dictionary, using each letter on a separate page. As the child's reading and writing skills increase, they can add a sentence below the picture that includes the word. Again, remember to leave a few pages blank so that more words can be added at a later date and the dictionary grows with the child.

Classroom or Family Dictionary

A classroom or family dictionary is a great project that not only helps with vocabulary, reading and writing skills, but also teaches kids to work together. Teachers and parents can help kids create a large dictionary for the entire family. Assign children certain letters, and compose the list of words to include as a group.

As new units in school are added to the curriculum, students can add additional pages with the new words. At home, kids will enjoy adding words they find in books from the library, at extra-curricular activities and while traveling. Using photos to personalize the new words in the dictionary will create a family dictionary that doubles as a memory book for children.


A children's picture dictionary is a wonderful addition to any library, whether at school or at home. Although plenty of good picture dictionaries are available for purchase, children also learn as they make their own. Save the dictionaries to send with the children as they move up in grade level or to pass down to younger siblings.

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Childrens Picture Dictionary