Online Words

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Language Arts, Reading, Vocabulary

Grade 1- 3


Students use an online dictionary to define their spelling or vocabulary words while building computer skills.



  • Have students' spelling/vocabulary lists available
  • Copy the Online Words page
  • Write the Web sites' names and URLs on the board

Lesson Steps
  1. Explain to the students that today they will use a dictionary on the Internet to find the definitions of their spelling/vocabulary words.
  2. Distribute the students' spelling/vocabulary lists and the Online Words page. Explain to the students that for each word, they will first write what they think the word means, find what the word actually means and write the definition in their own words, and then compose a sentence using the word.
  3. Think of a word and ask students what they think it means. Write the word and the students' prediction on the Online Words page. Instruct the students to do the same.
  4. While students are watching, log on to the Internet and launch the Internet browser. Remind the students how to enter a URL in the Address box and press the Enter key to navigate to the Web site.
  5. Navigate to the student dictionary by following the appropriate hyperlinks. Point out the box where the students will type each spelling/vocabulary word. Type the example word and click the Find/Search button.
  6. When the definition appears, read it out loud. Then, working with the students, come up with another way of defining the word and write that definition below the prediction on the Online Words page. Discuss how the prediction was similar or different from the actual meaning.
  7. Together compose a sentence for the word and write that on the Online Words page.
  8. Allow the students to use the Internet, their spelling/vocabulary lists, and the Online Words page to predict a definition, find a definition, and write a sentence for each word. Note: If the definitions offered by the Internet site are written at a reading level that is too difficult for children to decipher on their own, consider having them use the companion site, pairing students, or doing the entire activity as a class.
Extension Ideas
Anytime the students come across a word they do not know in their reading or daily life, challenge them to predict its definition, and then use the classroom computer to look up the word. Create a New Words sheet for students to record new words, their predicted definitions, and their actual definitions. Keep the sheets by the computer. Also, bookmark the dictionary site on the classroom computer and show students how to access it so you do not have to interrupt what you are doing to help them define a word.

Consider designating one student the Word Hunter--the person who can use the classroom computer to look up words--when the entire class is reading together, or anytime the entire class comes across an unfamiliar word.

If your students are comfortable doing so, allow them to use a search engine to find their spelling/vocabulary words used in context on other sites. This might help them compose sentences.


  • Online Words page (see the link below)
  • computers with Internet access

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