My Dictionary contains a list of basic and interest words commonly used by all primary-grade children in their writing. It also allows for individualization, as there is lots of space for them to add their own special words as they are needed. Children should recognize the My Dictionary is a resource that will help them spell words correctly. Guide your students to personalize their books by filling in the blanks on page 1 and drawing a picture (or gluing in a photograph) of themselves.In order to use their dictionaries effectively, children should know the letters of the alphabet and their associated phonetic sounds. You may want to use some of these ideas as you introduce My Dictionary to your students and explore ways this resource can be helpful.

1. Refer children to the alphabet and discuss the letters that come first, last, in the middle.

2. Help children discover that the words in My Dictionary are arranged in alphabetical order. Ask them where they would expect to find words beginning with the letter a, z, m and n. Show children the letter tabs on the edges of each page and have them practice locating words beginning with the letters your name. Ask them for example, How did you know to look for b near the beginning of your book? How did you know to look for t near the end? (Children’s answers should reflect their knowledge of the alphabet).

3. Introduce the Contents page. Ask children to find page numbers for specific letters and then turn to those pages to verify that the tabs and words beginning with that letter correspond. For example, On what page will we find words beginning with the letter d? Let’s turn to that page. Does the tab say d? What is the picture on this page? Does it begin with the letter d? Do you see other words beginning with the letter d that you know?

4. Help children relate the beginning sounds of words to the page on which the words might be found. If I needed to spell the word telephone, where should I look? How do you know I should look on that page? As you have children work through several examples, note their use of the tabs and the Contents page. Ask how they decided which page they should turn to. You may want to comment on the different approaches that you observe so children understand that there is more than one option.

5. Help children discover the information included on each letter page and consider how it might help them. Ask, for example, What information can we find on pages 2 and 3? How might that information help you? Children should note that:
• All the words begin with the letter a
• The word for the picture begins with the letter a
• The word for the picture is in blue
• The boxes and tab have an upper case and lower case letter
• The box on page 3 shows how to form the letters
• The words in the lists will help them spell those words correctly
• There are blank lines to write other words beginning with a that they may want to spell correctly

6. Explore the Contents page to discover the lists of interest words.

Have children explore these pages and share their findings with one another. You might ask your students to examine the interest word lists with a partner and then have each partner share an interesting discovery with the whole class. After the children have shared, ask them to think of times during the school day when they might find one of the interest word lists helpful. Ask them to consider specific writing occasions and topics that are a part of your regular classroom activities.

7. To heighten your students’ knowledge of the words on the interest pages, some independent assignments can be beneficial. Here are some suggestions.
• Colour page 57 matching crayon colours with the words on the clown’s balloons.
• Draw a picture of yourself. Use the words on page 48 and 49 to label at least 6 of your body parts.
• Complete calendars for each month of the school year using page 59 to show the days of the week, months, and seasons and page 51 to note holidays and special events.
• Fold a piece of paper in half both horizontally and vertically so that you have four boxes on each side. Refer to ‘School words’ page 53 to see how many of those items are in our classroom. Choose eight items and write one word in each box on your paper. Draw a picture to match each word. (Children may complete similar activities by choosing words and drawing pictures to show favourite toys and games (p.54), places they have visited (p.55), a specific category (e.g. zoo, farm, birds, mammals) of animals (p.56).
• Draw four pictures of yourself doing one of the things at the top of page 55. Write the word to tell what you are doing.
• Use page 61 to make labels for the pattern blocks and geo blocks in your math centre.
• Have children colour in the provinces on the Canada map (p. 62-63) to designate their province/territory, provinces/territories they (or their classmates) have visited, provinces/territories you’ve read about or studied as a class, etc.
• Guide children to use the terms on page 60 to communicate mathematically through, for example, their math journals and when writing their own story problems.
• Use My Dictionary to connect with the homes of your students. In addition to sharing the contents of their books, students could work with their families to name ‘The Family’ (p.53). Encourage them to seek correct information and spellings from their family members.
• Use the letters on page 65 as format models for letters to members of students’ family, school, and community.