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20 October 2014
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Dictionaries - lesson plan

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  1. To be familiar with the layout and purpose of the dictionary.
  2. To understand the form and function of alphabetical order and be able to find words using alphabetical order up to the third or fourth character.
  3. To understand how dictionary definitions are organised.

National Curriculum

1j, 2a, 2c.


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Teaching activities


  1. Ask the children what a dictionary is for and what it enables us to find out. Explore Bitesize types of dictionary, range of purpose and the range of information provided.
  2. Recap alphabetical order, ensuring that the children are aware of the alphabetical sequence. (Resources such as Digger and the Gang - At the Party game would enable the children to secure this skill).
  3. Display several groups of letters or words in a random order on the class whiteboard. Gradually increase the complexity of the groups the children are working with - eg individual letter sequences, no missing letters (e, f, g, h, i, j); individual letter sequences, missing letters (b, g, p, s, v, t); words with initial sounds that are different (any, random, group, of, words); words with initial sounds that are the same (butter, batter, beast, brilliant); words with initial and second sounds that are the same (animal, antelope, answer, ancestor) and so on.
  4. Introduce the dictionaries. Ask the children to find the definitions of a number of words (reinforcing facts already discussed).
  5. Introduce a timer to increase the speed of processing.
  6. Ensure the children fully understand the layers of explanation offered in the dictionary, including word class information.
  7. Discuss meanings and broaden the discussion to include, for example, synonyms (words that mean similar things) and comparison of powerful adjectives (eg joyful, elated, glad) or verbs (run, dash, dart, hurtle, scarper) and so on. Explore the impact word choice has upon meaning.

Group work

Ask the children to work online to explore dictionary definitions and locate a word using Bitesize dictionaries game.


  1. Watch Melvin & Steven explain dictionaries.
  2. Divide the children into teams and complete the Bitesize dictionaries quiz.

Independent group work/homework

  1. Ask the children to use a dictionary to complete the dictionary worksheet (PDF 93KB).
  2. Ask the children to repeat the Bitesize dictionaries game.

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