Rotary Dictionary Project expands

Submitted by the Rotary Club

What happens when you give rhyming dictionaries to 4th graders the day before Halloween?

This: “On Halloween, I saw a teen…” started a fun poem by one of Amy Hull’s Friday Harbor Elementary 4th grade students. He recited it to the Rotarians, distributing the dictionaries before they had even left the classroom hallway.

The Rotary Club of the San Juan Islands is in the process of distributing age-appropriate dictionaries to 3rd graders county-wide. Now, in its 16th year, 4,776 have been distributed over the years. At the back of the 3rd-grade dictionary, the Friday Harbor Elementary kids enjoyed perusing the gazetteer section, finding the pages with maps, math, money, the human skeleton and many more fun facts and drawings, including the longest word in the English language.

The 4th-grade Rhyming Dictionaries are a new twist to the program, with the view to help kids write poems and songs as part of their curriculum. The 5th graders received Encyclopedic Dictionaries. The Dictionary Project, along with the annual Rotary Spelling Bee, is part of the local Rotary’s literacy program.

“The idea is to promote curiosity and life-long learning,” said Rotarian Barbara Fagan, who has chaired the program since its inception in 2007. Rotarian, Scott Sluis, told the children, “I know a high school senior who still finds his 3rd grade dictionary helpful, it’s pretty tattered by now, though.”

In the front of each book is the Rotary’s 4-way test of “All We Think, Say and Do”. The kids read it out loud:

Is it the truth?

Is it fair to all concerned?

Will it build goodwill and better friendship?

Is it beneficial to all concerned?

When asked if the kids knew the meaning of the word beneficial, one 3rd grader piped up and said, “I’ll look it up in my new dictionary!”

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