Dictionary Skills Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teach students methods to determine the meaning of unknown words, including using syntax and dictionaries, with this lesson plan. Two video lessons outline instruction as students apply understanding with active learning.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain the history and use of dictionaries
  • demonstrate understanding of using syntax to determine understanding
  • use a dictionary to locate and define words


1 hour


  • Dictionaries
  • Prepared sentences
  • Sentence strips (blank, but sequentially numbered in the top left-hand corner)
  • Tape

Key Vocabulary

  • Dictionary
  • Oxford English Dictionary (OED)
  • Syntax
  • Decode
  • Syntax clues
  • Word placement

Curriculum Standards


Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or phrases based on grade 8 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.


Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word's position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.


Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech.


Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).

Warm Up and Preparation

  • Distribute dictionaries to students and allow them to page through.
  • Ask them to share what they notice and discuss as a whole class.
  • Play the video lesson What is a Dictionary? - Definition, Use & History and discuss:
    • How are dictionaries used?
    • What can we use dictionaries for as readers? Writers?
    • How have you used dictionaries?
  • Practice looking up words by giving students a word to look up and seeing who can find it the quickest.
  • Once found, look at each word carefully, noticing and noting the information given in the dictionary. Discuss the purposes of this information.
    • What part of speech is the word?
    • Does it have different meanings?
    • What are some synonyms?
    • Can it be made plural? How?
  • Continue this exercise until you feel students are comfortable with locating words and using the dictionary to obtain additional information on the words.
  • Take the lesson quiz as a class to check understanding.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account