Why I Have My Students Make Personal “Word Part Dictionaries”


Do you want your students to apply their phonics learning to their writing?

I know I do! And I also know that this doesn’t happen easily for all students.

In today’s quick post, I want to share a free tool with you—a template for a word part dictionary. Relatively recently, I started having my students create these word part dictionaries, and it has helped tremendously with their spelling! Keep reading to find out how I use them, and to grab the template for free!

FREE word part dictionary template - help your students connect phonics learning to writing!

What is a Word Part Dictionary?

A word part dictionary is a place where students keep track of word parts they have learned.

For example, if they study the “ink” pattern in phonics, they then add the “ink” pattern to their word part dictionary. They write the word part (i.e., “ink”) and then choose a word that contains that word part (i.e., “pink”). They draw a picture to illustrate the word.

FREE word part dictionary template - help your students connect phonics learning to writing!

Every time students learn a new word part during phonics, they complete a new box in their word part dictionaries. Throughout the year, each child has a record of his/her phonics learning. During writing time, students can refer to their word part dictionaries for help with spelling.

I’ve also found the dictionaries to be helpful to ME because I’m a little forgetful! During writing time, it’s sometimes hard to remember exactly what patterns each child has learned (i.e., I forget what they should be responsible for spelling correctly—especially toward the end of the school year). If there’s ever any question, a student and I can just look in their word part dictionary to see if they have already studied a particular word pattern.

You can use this tool with word families, vowel spelling patterns, prefixes and suffixes, etc. It’s super versatile!

What age group is this for?

I have been using this tool with first grade and up. You can also use it with Kindergarteners who are learning word families or other “chunks.”

How can I use this tool?

It’s very easy to set up! First, download the template and make copies for students. You might want to make copies on light-colored paper, so that students can easily locate their dictionaries during writing time. Or you can try white cardstock, so that the dictionaries (hopefully) last longer.

You can introduce the dictionaries whole-group or small-group—whatever works best for you. Have each student write his/her name on the front and decorate it. You want to foster a sense of ownership so that students feel responsible for and will use their dictionaries!

Each time you introduce a new phonics pattern to a group of students (or the entire class), students will fill out a new box in their dictionary. They write the word pattern, choose a word that exemplifies the pattern, and illustrate the word.

Want to give this a try? You can download the template by clicking on the image below.

Let me know how it goes! If you’re looking for more phonics or word work activities, you can check some out in my TpT store here.

Happy teaching!


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Cheryl Williams
5 years ago

What a great idea! I’m trying it with my second grade kiddos this year. Thank you 👍


I’m Alison, a literacy specialist. I love getting kids excited about reading and writing – and sharing teaching ideas with other teachers!

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