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Fun Picture Dictionary night

By Jane Creech
Elementary Curriculum Specialistfor Rowan Salisbury Schools
Overton Elementary School hosted a ěFun Picture Dictionaryî Night on March 22 in the media center.
The evening was supported by Title One, administration, support staff and the kindergarten teachers. Refreshments were served followed by activities to integrate the use of the dictionaries.
Each child received their copy of the ěFun Picture Dictionaryî to use at home. Prizes were awarded for active participation.
Every August, approximately 1,800 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds in Rowan County enter public school for the first time as kindergarten students.
They emerge from all sectors of the county as well as from across the globe. They bring many languages, customs, traditions and diverse experiences with them. Some are reading, some have never held a book in their hands. They all come to learn.
It is their first experience with formal public education and the journey begins that forever will shape their future. It is an awesome responsibility that our elementary schools shoulder to make this beginning as positive as possible for not only the kindergarten child, but also for the family.
A partnership must be woven between the school and the parents, that together, they may nurture the growth, the learning and the development of these precious lives at this tender beginning.
ěBridging Vocabulary ó Building Blocks For Bold Beginningsî is designed in an effort to foster this home/school partnership and provide a tool to begin to build a solid foundation for learning at this very crucial beginning.
In todayís schools, too many children struggle with learning to read. Research tells us that before they can be ready for learning letters and sounds and beginning reading skills, children must be immersed in a rich language environment. They must hear language patterns and rhythms and must have experiences with words.
An important part of reading begins with the development of language skills and vocabulary. Vocabulary plays a crucial role in learning to read and write. As children begin to read and write, they use words they have heard and know to make sense of the words they see in print.
Vocabulary is also very important in the comprehension of stories that are heard and read, as well as to science and social studies understandings. Children cannot understand what they are reading or hearing without knowing what most of the words mean. They also have to broaden their understanding of the meaning of new words that are not a part of their oral vocabulary. This is a tall order and a hindrance to learning for children and parents who do not have English as their native language and for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
In an effort to strengthen vocabulary development in these young children, the Margaret C. Woodson Foundation and the Elementary Education Department of the Rowan-Salisbury School System would like to present to each kindergarten child a picture dictionary for his or her own.
It is a hardback, full-color, picture dictionary that gives the picture, definition of the word and usage of the word in a variety of complete sentences that are student-friendly for early elementary age children. It will allow even speakers of other languages to relate to the picture and English equivalent so that the parent and child can begin to learn this new language together. It will provide parents and children the opportunity to share literacy development in vocabulary building.
By mid-year, kindergarten students are making the connection that letters come together to make words and the world of words is opening to them in a rich variety of literacy experiences. As print takes on new meaning for developing readers and writers, it seems to be an appropriate time to present this gift to our kindergarten students. This dictionary can be used particularly during the kindergarten, first- and second-grade years as a resource to support developing reading, writing and vocabulary skills on many levels.
Recognizing that parents are the childís first teachers, we present this picture dictionary to each kindergarten student in the Rowan-Salisbury School System to be used at home as parents partner with teachers in ěBridging Vocabulary ń Building Blocks for Bold Beginnings.î
A special thank you to the Margaret C. Woodson Foundation and the Elementary Education Department of Rowan Salisbury School System for the dictionaries. Teachers Kim Echerd, Maria Lewis, Cindy Gaul and Sarah J. Brown made the evening extra special for their students.

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