Using a Picture Dictionary with MLs
Multilingual Learners benefit from seeing pictures as they learn new vocabulary words. Pictures are also beneficial for beginning readers so that they can confirm that the words that they read are accurate. A picture dictionary is a helpful tool for both phonics and vocabulary instruction.
Picture Dictionary Organization
There are multiple ways that a picture dictionary can be organized.
Alphabetically- There are many picture dictionaries available that categorize words by the beginning letter. Many follow a theme.
Phonics Patterns- Pictures help Multilingual Learners learn vocabulary at the same time as new phonics patterns.
Vocabulary Topics- Some newcomer picture dictionaries are divided into themed sections.
Make Picture Dictionaries Accessible
Color pictures work best. Put one dictionary in a writing center, or have a few available for each table group.
Introduce the dictionary to students at the beginning of the year. Consider adding to it as the year goes on or highlighting a new section every month.
For newcomer students, give students their own copy to keep at their desks. Depending on the age and literacy level of the student, either give them a complete dictionary or a small section at a time.
Model How to Use the Picture Dictionary
The more familiar students are with the vocabulary words in a picture, the more helpful the tool with be.
For a picture dictionary organized alphabetically, model how to find words based on the beginning sound. Show how to use one that is organized by a specific phonics pattern, such as words that have a short vowel sound.
A picture dictionary can also be organized by category. Show students how to use the pictures and words to help with talking about or spelling words with the same topic.
When a newcomer student arrives, a partner or parent volunteer can help introduce the dictionary. It can be as simple as the helper pointing to a picture and saying the word. The newcomer can either repeat the word or simply listen.
Student Created Dictionary
Give students ownership by having them create their own picture dictionary. This can be as simple as writing one letter on the top of a notebook page and having students draw pictures of words that start with that letter. You can also use a Blank Picture Dictionary template to help with organization.
For older students, you can connect an alphabet book with content by having students find words that connect to a topic. This can be an independent project or a group project. To support students, either provide them with a list of suggested vocabulary words or have the group come up with words together to make a master list.
Bilingual Picture Dictionaries
A bilingual dictionary helps students make connections between their home language and English. For students that are literate in their home language, it allows them to discover new vocabulary words independently. A bilingual dictionary can also help students and teachers learn words in another language. This can be a great way to make connections with a newcomer student.
Suggestions of Picture Dictionaries
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ELD Picture Dictionary– It with photographs and is available in print and an editable Google Slides version.
Newcomer Phonics Picture Dictionary– The picture dictionary is organized so that it introduces vocabulary words and letter sounds at the same time. Each page builds in difficulty and the number of letters and sounds used.
Enchanted Learning Picture Dictionaries– There is a phonetic picture dictionary and versions in English/Spanish, Dutch, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Swedish.
Oxford Picture Dictionary Content Areas for Kids
Discover additional picture dictionaries and alphabet books on my Amazon List.