Hands on: Dictionary
Near the beginning of each school year, I introduce second grade students to two reference tools, dictionaries and encyclopedias. I plan the topics they look up around something they are already covering in the classroom (if possible).
First, they used a dictionary to look up words about Jimmy Carter, such as submarine, peanut, and governor (they are currently studying Carter). They were instructed to copy down one definition for their word. They had practiced alphabetical order and guide words the week before but it was a bit of struggle for most to actually find their word. Their teacher and I provided lots of support in this part of the activity.
I saw a couple of students all excited after the structured activity was over. It is so heartening see students get enthused over library skill lessons, however, my heart was destined to be dashed just a bit. These students had continued to browse the dictionary and were gleefully pointing out that the word “zombie” was in the dictionary! But hey, they found out there are interesting things to be found in dictionaries!
World Book Online Encyclopedia
The next week I showed these second grade students a print version of an encyclopedia and we compare the amount of information found in a dictionary with that found in an encyclopedia article. Then I have them use an online encyclopedia, World Book (the Kids section), to look up facts about one of three historical figures: Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jackie Robinson. These three individuals are part of the Georgia Standards of Excellence: Social Studies. Some of the children were so into this activity that they didn’t want to stop with just one fact. The students really liked the very large photograph at the top of the World Book Kids entry for each historical figure. They were also making connections with what they were reading in the encyclopedia to what they had learned in the classroom.