Teen Think Tank (6th - 12th Grade): Dictionary

National Dictionary Day is in October, so this week, we wish Noah Webster a belated birthday (October 16, 1758). In 1807, he began working on An American Dictionary of the English Language, and it took him 26 years to complete! So, in honor of Webster's contribution to language, let's have some fun with words!


#READ: Noah Webster, Man of Many Words by Catherine Reef

Noah Webster, Man of Many Words Book Cover

Noah Webster may be best remembered for the enormous and ambitious task of writing his famous dictionary, but for him, this accomplishment was a means to an end. His true goal was to streamline the language spoken in our newly formed country so that it could be used as a force to bring people together and be a source of national pride. Though people laughed at his ideas, Webster never doubted himself. In the end, his so-called foolish notions achieved just what he had hoped.



#LISTEN: Listen to this episode on Words For Granted Podcast, a podcast about how words change over time.

Words For Granted Podcast

Episode 71: Noah Webster's Dictionary

Noah Webster is best known as the father of the first trust American dictionary. However, the success of Webster’s dictionary faced an uphill struggle during his lifetime. In this episode, we examine some of these struggles alongside the things that made Webster’s dictionary so different from the English dictionaries that preceded it.




#EXPLORE: This project is a challenge to define yourself. Using the format that you would find in a dictionary, create a definition for your name.

Define Yourself


  • A basic dictionary
  • Pages from old dictionary or re-purposed pages from a book
    • OR photocopied pages from dictionary or book
    • OR visit RoseClearfield.com to print a vintage dictionary page
  • Pen, markers, crayons, etc.

Write your name at the top of the page. You can add that it is a noun and a pronunciation, if you want; use the dictionary to see how your name would be pronounced. Then write out a definition under it. You can add images with your art, too. You can add pictures of things that are important to you, a map of where you live, or shapes that help us get a feel for who you are. You can also cut out words, definitions, or pieces from the other dictionary page and glue it onto this one. Experiment with different techniques.


#PLAY: Kahoot Challenge!

Challenge yourself--can you spot the correct definition for these words? Will you be number one on the leaderboard? Our challenge ends November 24 – good luck! Game Pin: 02655163


#KEEP READING: Check out these books on language, wordplay, and "defining" yourself!


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