Igniting a Love of Words & Word Exploration through The Word Collector

This blog post was written by Pam Koutrakos. Pam works for for Gravity Goldberg, LLC as an educational consultant and Corwin as an author (Word Study That Sticks: Best Practices K-6). She utilizes The Word Collector, by Peter H. Reynolds, as a tool in her professional development work. Read on to see what Pam has to say about The Word Collector!

It was love at first sight. Even the teasers for The Word Collector had me googly-eyed! Since the first moment I held this beautiful book in my hands, I knew it destined to be a love that lasts-and it has. In my work as an educator, I often read The Word Collector to start a conversation about the power of words. When partnering with teachers, we also discuss the importance of taking the time to teach about words and meaningful ways to build a passion for exploring words. In this book, Peter H. Reynolds looked into our hearts and shared a text that enables all of us to better understand why words matter. As such, this book is a great way to spark conversation and build commitment to delving deeper in our classroom practices.

Whether working with teachers or students, I strive to make our launch into word study accessible to everyone. The goal is to feel excited, curious, included, and most of all, successful.

Here are a few ideas for how The Word Collector can be used with educators and learners to kick off word study with extra zest and zing:

After reading and discussing The Word Collector, we have:

  • Used sentence strips, index cards, or even sticky notes to create and share “favorite words.” This is a wonderful icebreaker activity. It is sure to yield laughter and connection.

    • Quick Options: Trade favorite words with a peer (the way some trade baseball cards), display on a bulletin board, or post on a digital platform like Padlet.

    • Savor The Moment Options: Invite all participants to come together to share words.  Take turns listening to and learning about one another. Group (and regroup) words according to similarities and differences. The options are limitless.

Above: Teachers like to share favorite words, too!

Started to wonder:

  • Quick Options: Create word-themed wonder pages in notebooks, wonder wall bulletin boards, and/or digital wonder boards online.

  • Savor The Moment Options: Revisit and add to these wonders regularly. Commit to occasionally engaging in a bit of inquiry: choosing wonders to delve into, discuss, and investigate.

Above: Student word wonders… and teacher word wonders: both worth pursuing!

Reacted to quotes about words:

  • Quick Options: Post famous quotes about words and ask participants to think about the quotes- noting their reactions, feelings, and wonders. LOW TECH: Participants can visit different stations (gallery-walk style) leave sticky notes. HIGH TECH: Quotes can be posted on a digital platform and participants can respond using a variety of online tools.

  • Savor The Moment Options: Find the time to engage in more collaborative discussion.  Gather together to explore and discuss posted ideas in greater depth.


Above: Classroom Padlet board made by 4th graders.

Created word manifestos:

  • Quick Options: Draft ideas about how we can commit to words. When working with teachers, we compile thoughts about the kind of instruction and learning we hope to facilitate and support in classrooms. When working with teachers or students, we draft ideas about how we will be careful and thoughtful with our words- using our words to empower and lift up others.

  • Savor The Moment Options: Choose one key element from crafted word manifestos. Set a goal around that idea. Create an action plan- and regularly reflect on and celebrate progress toward this goal.


Manifesto created by a district word study committee

Where do we go from here? We can reread and revisit The Word Collector often, reigniting all the initial good and passion that came from these first collaborative word-themed explorations. We might next nurture a habit of noticing and appreciating the beauty of words: in read aloud, stopping to model noticing and reacting to words an author crafted. Just like Jerome, we can collect words and phrases that have made an impact on us. We could also take next steps, encouraging one another to become “word gifters.”  

After seeing how Jerome spread joy and empowered others with words… we might aim to do this ourselves. When someone makes a thoughtful choice with their words- deciding to spread kindness and encouragement- we notice, share this, and celebrate together. Wouldn’t we all benefit from these kinds of practices: students, teachers, and even those outside of our classrooms and schools?

***Lesson plans that support several of these ideas are included in Word Study That Sticks: Best Practices K-6 ***


Pam is an experienced and enthusiastic educator known for her positive outlook and energy. As an educational consultant with Gravity Goldberg, LLC, she is deeply committed to motivating and supporting students and teachers on their learning journeys. Pam recently released a professional text entitled Word Study That Sticks: Best Practices K-6 (Corwin Literacy). A follow-up professional text, The Word Study That Sticks Companion Book, will be released in the spring of 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @PamKou and discover her blogs at www.drgravitygoldberg.com.

So what is my favorite word?

My first and simplest answer: kind Our words enable us to express kindness each day - and that is truly empowering!!

My “other” favorite word: ONOMATOPOEIA! I love the way it looks- but I REALLY love the way it sounds. I love saying it. I love singing it. I love sharing it.

Are you a Word Collector? Share your ideas with us! Email Andrea Calvin at andrea@reynoldstlc.org to be featured on The Word Collectors!