Word Collecting in the Classroom

Teachers across the country are using The Word Collector to inspire a passion for language and literature. Here are a few ideas to ignite a new generation of Word Collectors. Share your Word Collector idea with us by emailing TWC@ReynoldsTLC.org.


Words on Parade

Word Champion: Elyse Benson in North Muskegon, MI

My kindergarten class loved this book, so much that we collected our own words and had a vocabulary parade. We are a small district in North Muskegon, MI, that our whole district is connected so we paraded to the middle school and high school to have the older student read and talk about the words.


We Are Word Collectors

Word Champion: Susan T. McAuliffe at Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School in Port Washington, NY

Susan McAuliffe at at Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School in Port Washington, NY used The Word Collector with her middle school students.

“I read the book to all groups, students read together and independently, and I encouraged "word collecting" through pleasurable and content area reading in class.  It was very student-centered and organic, with students collecting words from The Outsiders, To Kill A Mockingbird, book club books, poetry books, and informational text.  I created a "We Are Word Collectors" bulletin board that included pictures from Peter H. Reynolds’ book and index cards with our collected words.  We continually use the bulletin board, with students referencing the words on the board to use in their creative writing and portfolio projects.  We are constantly adding new words and updating the board.  This book worked so well with a sixth grade teacher's poetry unit as well.”


Collect Juicy Words

Word Champion: Vicki Den Ouden at Ellison Elementary School, Kelowna, BC, Canada

Introduce the term “juicy words.” Ask the children which words jump out as special words. Maybe they create a picture in their mind, maybe they’re unusual, maybe they just sound funny or are fun to say. Those words are “juicy” words. Be word collectors and find juicy words in books around the classroom. Write them down on orange cards and add them to a juice carton. 


I Spy Words

Word Champion: Amy Bryan at Lynn Road Elementary in Raleigh, NC

When students are reading they like to be word detectives. They are given sparkly pipe cleaners to use to create a 'magnifying glass' (or any shape they like really) to put around words in books or other areas so that they or a partner may add them to their word collection.

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City of Words

Word Champion: Kate Stam at Calgary Academy in Calgary, Alberta Canada

To commemorate the end of grade six and elementary school, students from Calgary Academy chose a word to describe themselves and they painted them on a mural of a silhouette of the city of Calgary.


Digital Poetry

Word Champion: Meg Curts at B.J. Smith Elementary School in Mesquite, Texas

Combining technology with poetry students from B.J. Smith Elementary School cut out words and drove a Sphero robotic toy to collect 10 words. Once the words were collected, groups of students added “a” and “the” to create a poem.  


Making Headlines

Word Champion: Alison Miller at Parkside Elementary School in Parkside, Pennsylvania

Students at Parkside Elementary in Parkside, PA collected their own words from newspapers and magazines to create unique, original poems


Song Collectors

Word Champion: Jennifer Yantzi at Avon Public School in Stratford, Ontario

Sixth graders from Avon Public School presented a Choral Reading of The Word Collector.  They took home first place in the Kiwanis Festival of the Performing Arts - Stratford! Check out their performance.

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Window of Words

Word Champion: Joni Smith at Garin Elementary School in Brentwood, California

The students at Garin Elementary School made a window display of their words after reading The Word Collector. Over two months students added words to the display. Joni Smith then took photos each student, posed like Jerome, to enhance the window display.


Amazing Words

Word Champion: Gina Hess at North Naples Middle School in Naples, FL

Gina Hess’s middle schoolers have been "word collectors" for years! They make a board filled with all their favorite words every year.


Just like Jerome

Word Champion: Becca Sacash at Urbana Elementary School in Frederick, Maryland

Becca Sacash’s kinder class at Urbana Elementary started their own word collection. They we’re all so excited to be word collectors, just like Jerome!


Word Collecting Bonanza

Word Champion: Donna Donner at Elms Elementary School in Jackson, New Jersey

During a Big Book Bonanza, students at Elms Elementary School read with a reading buddy from a different grade. The collect words to add to their Jerome wall - different grades have different colors and teachers even add a few special words.


Wall of Words and So Much More!

Word Champion: Anne Turner at North Tama County Community School in Traer, Iowa

After reading The Word Collector, North Tama County Community School students worked on a display of their own meaningful words.

Anne shares: “Once my kindergarten students head The Word Collector aloud, each student picked their favorite page, based on illustration. Then they focused on the words on that page and if they were interested in learning more about any of those words. Once they chose a word of interest, they drew a picture that represented that word. For example, one student, chose the word dream and drew a picture of her in her bed with a dream of her family floating about her head. Then we discussed more words in our own vocabulary that we enjoy and how everyone's vocabulary is different. I asked families to work together and choose a few words that each person who wanted to participate enjoyed and bring that back to school to display on our Word Collection!”


Seasons of Words

Word Champion: Stacy Smith at Harmony Hill School in Cohoes, NY

At Harmony Hill School, Stacy Smith is celebrating The Word Collector, by creating a themed bulletin board. In October students decorated for fall with a spooky focus on Halloween. November will focus on Thanksgiving.