Classroom Activity
Make a Picture Dictionary
"Just picture" the number of skills
developed with this picture dictionary activity.

AGES 3–4


  • A First Dictionary such as Scholastic First Dictionary* by Judith Levy (Scholastic Inc.; $14.95)
  • old catalogs or magazines for cutting
  • oaktag
  • child safety scissors
  • drawing paper, markers and crayons
  • glue sticks or glue
  • small binder rings and hole-punch

Objective: Children will create a picture dictionary to encourage the development of letter-sound recognition and fine-motor and creative-thinking skills, and increase their awareness about informational text.


  1. Show children a copy of a first dictionary or picture dictionary and ask them if they have ever seen or used a dictionary. Explain how and why a dictionary is used as you pass the book around for children to view. Point out that a dictionary is organized alphabetically.

  2. Explain to children that they will make their own picture dictionary. They will cut out interesting pictures from magazines and catalogs or draw their own pictures and glue them onto sheets of oaktag. Below each picture they will write the name of the picture.

  3. Provide children with the suggested art materials and paper. Place a line across the middle section of the paper to divide it in half. Ask children to glue only one picture or create one drawing in each section. Younger children can work with pre-cut pictures from magazines.

  4. Assist children in writing or dictating words that relate to their pictures. Cut all the pages in half. Invite children to organize the pictures alphabetically. Younger children will require more adult assistance. Older children can also write or dictate a sentence that describes their picture.

  5. Create a title and cover for the children's picture dictionary. Use a hole-punch, small binder rings, or ribbon to bind the book. Invite children to read the book during reading time. Place the book in your writing area for the children to use as a reference.

Curriculum Connection

Movement: Alphabetical Order.
Write each child's first name on a sheet of paper, capitalizing the first letter followed by lowercase letters. Assist the children in lining up in alphabetical order. Explain that they will dance and "mix themselves up" to music. When the music stops, they will form a line in alphabetical order. Play the game several times so children can learn the concept. Children can make a word card and play the game using new or familiar words.

Alligators All Around: An Alphabet* by Maurice Sendak
(Scholastic Inc.; $2.21)

Miss Spider's ABC Book* by David Kirk
(Scholastic Inc.; $16.95)

The First Picture Dictionary by Katherine Howard
(Random House, 1978; $2.92)