Friday, October 3, 2014


The word was "hatch" on my son's reading homework.  He had misspelled it "hach" and was asking me what was wrong with it.  I tell him to go look it up in the dictionary, but then realize he has no idea how to do this.

He brings the little paperback Webster's dictionary from the dollar bin to me, and I show him how to look up a word.  We get to the correct page and he eventually finds the word "hatch."  I instruct him to read the definition.

"to cause the young, esp. of birds, to emerge from an egg."

His eyes bug out.  He grabs his homework and points to the picture under the word "hatch" of a bird cracking its way out of an egg.

He exclaims (and I truly mean exclaim...he was excited), "It's just like this picture! How did it know?!"

How did the dictionary know this?!  Oh my gosh, the wonder of discovery.  I wanted to jump up and down with him, to laugh and maybe even cry at the wonder of a book that contains nothing but facts about words.

He carried the dictionary around the rest of the day.  Both kids asked before bed how we know what's in the dictionary is correct, so I explained who Webster was and then ended up talking about the Oxford English Dictionary, which then led to us at the computer googling pictures of the original OED and then the current one with its twenty volumes, and the kids were just amazed.  We then talked about etymologies and how amazing these are and found the origin of the word "clue," which blew their little minds.

1 comment:

  1. My 9th grader had to use a book dictionary last week - he laughed when I asked him if he was sure he knew how to use it. :)