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Picture a Classroom of Word Collectors

0806181636_HDRI like to encourage students to be word collectors. Words are easy to collect from everyday conversations, music, TV shows, books, magazines, comics or any place language is seen or heard. When you become intentional about collecting words vocabulary grows. While a large vocabulary helps a student’s writing, it also helps their ability to express themselves in conversation. Being able to communicate effectively increases self-confidence.

One of the things I love about picture books is that rich vocabulary and more complex sentence structure can be used because the book is usually read to the child. The person reading the book can explain words or nuances that the child does not understand. This helps a child’s vocabulary and their use and understanding of language grow.

All students, even older ones, can benefit from reading picture books. Send them on a quest to fill a journal with words collected from various sources, including picture books. Challenge them to:

  • look up words they don’t know
  • use words from their journal in their writing
  • share a favorite word with the class
  • Write a word from each student on the board-How many can be used in one silly sentence?

The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds (Orchard Books, 2018) would be a wonderful book to use to introduce this idea. In the book Jerome collects words instead of the normal things people collect.  He collects words he sees, hears and reads. One day, as he carries a pile of scrapbooks filled with words, he stumbles and words come flying out. He sees new combinations of words. He strings them together to make poems and songs. To communicate with others he uses his simple powerful words such as: I understand, I’m sorry, thank you and you matter. One day he releases his collection and is happy as he watches other children start collecting them.

Collecting words isn’t just for students. Start your own list. I find I read more carefully, listen more intently when I’m on the quest to find new and interesting words!




Author: Holly Niner

Holly Niner is the author of No More Noisy Nights illustrated by Guy Wolek, and The Day I Ran Away illustrated by Isabella Ongaro. She has had numerous stories published in children’s magazines, and her previous picture books were award winners. Mr. Worry: A Story about OCD, received the 2005 IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities Award, and I Can’t Stop: A Story about Tourette Syndrome, was the winner of the 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award and a 2005 Bank Street College of Education Best Book. Holly lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

4 thoughts on “Picture a Classroom of Word Collectors”

  1. Oh I love that concept- word collecting. I used to do that when I was young, especially with words I liked that sounded good, regardless of what they meant. Love those word-a-day calendars!


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