October 16 is Dictionary Day!

| October 16, 2021 | 15 Comments

DictionaryOctober 16th is Dictionary Day. It was designated as Dictionary Day because it is the birthday of Noah Webster, who you may recognize as the man who gave us Webster’s Dictionary. It is to Noah Webster that we owe the standardized American spellings of words that we’re familiar with (for example “color” as opposed to “colour”). Webster believed that all Americans needed to learn to spell words the same way, using American spellings, and to that end he first wrote a children’s reading textbook, A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, that was used in schools for about one hundred years. He followed that up with the dictionary. It took him 27 years to complete that dictionary, and in it he included over 70,000 words with definitions and Americanized spellings. America owes Noah Webster quite a bit for formalizing its language in this way.

But, you may be wondering, what on earth could anybody do to celebrate Dictionary Day? Reading a dictionary certainly doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. What else is there? It helps if you think not of the book itself, but what the book contains. The dictionary contains language, our language, in its entirety. Language is what allows us to communicate. Language and communication certainly seem like ideas worth celebrating. With that in mind, here are a few little activities you and your kids can do with the help of a dictionary, in celebration of language, communication, and Noah Webster.

  • Improve your vocabulary. Help your kids set a goal. On Dictionary Day, they will learn a new word. Or two. Or however many they can handle. Look through the dictionary, write down the chosen words and their definitions so that your child can read and memorize them. Then comes the fun part. For the rest of the day, have your child see how many times she can work the new words into sentences. You can even keep a scoreboard – extra points for using more than one new word in the same sentence.
  • Create a Picture Dictionary. Let your child choose something he’s interested in; animals, cars, video games, any subject will do. Help him look up words related to the subject he’s interested in and include the words and their definitions in his own small dictionary project. Next to each word he chooses, have him include a picture, either hand drawn or cut out from a magazine. Before long, he’ll have his own handy reference book about his favorite subject.
  • Crosswords. Crossword puzzles are a great example of a way that we might use a dictionary for entertainment purposes. If your child enjoys crossword puzzles, or if you think she might, Dictionary Day is a great day to get a fresh new book of crossword puzzles and get to solving.

Whatever you decide to do, it’s worth taking a little time on October 16th to celebrate words and language. Have a great Dictionary Day!

Comments (15)

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  1. marthalynn says:

    I love the ideas you posted here! It’s so important to increase our vocabularies, no matter our age. And these games you suggest will make it fun! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Janine says:

    I love that today’s dictionary day; my son’s (2 next month) learning about “vocabulary” from Super Why; way to go, PBS!!! 🙂

  3. Jodi Bradshaw says:

    i love that there are other besides me who honor holidays like these

  4. Miranda W says:

    The Dictionary is one of the first things I reach for when I’m bored. I just open it to a random page and find a word I don’t know. I call it the Dictionary game.

  5. Kaeli hines says:

    I loved our encyclopedias as a kid, I think education in the home is really important!

  6. tiffany dover says:

    I had no idea! How cool is this!

  7. Rita M says:

    I just can’t seem to get into spell check – my Webster’s Dictionary sits right on my desk & is used daily!

  8. Stacey Roberson says:

    What a great day to celebrate! I love the idea to Create a Picture Dictionary – great way to stimulate the mind!

  9. Deb Dorrington says:

    I still use my dictionary often even though spell check is readily available. Thank you for the game suggestions!

  10. Carolyn A Colley (Griffith, Smith) says:

    first time I’ve heard of this, but the dictionary has always been my friend, I was a secretary for about 26 years

  11. San says:

    I never knew there’s such a day! I always make it a habit to read the dictionary to improve my vocabulary.

  12. Ariela says:

    Had no idea there was a dictionary day! Sad I’m a little late, but I’ll celebrate anyway!

  13. Erin K. says:

    I had no idea! I love the dictionary!

  14. Callista Meyer says:

    I can honestly say i’ve never heard of dictionary day but i use it a lot ! Wether it’s for online spelling or at home trying to figure out what something means!

  15. Rebecca L says:

    Sounds like an excellent way to celebrate!

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