Victoria Wharam has been making use of the Mrs Wordsmith publications for her own teaching and was inspired to write a feature article on them for us here at Armadillo. Read on to find out who Mrs Wordsmith are, what they do and what Victoria thought of the books …
Who is Mrs Wordsmith?
Mrs Wordsmith is a bright, bold and innovative company who are bringing the art of learning vocabulary bang up to date. Their mission is to “teach every child in the world the 10,000 words they need to succeed” and boy have they got the resources to do it!
Their collection of books, games and apps have been scientifically researched to compliment the National Curriculum, but more importantly than that, to appeal to children and ignite the adventurous word learner in each of them. The team of award-winning Hollywood artists, including the artist behind the amazing Madagascar characters, bring every word to life.
Mrs Wordsmith and Dyslexia
I work with children who have dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties and I have found all of these products to be very adaptable. I have used them with children older than the intended audience successfully. The products are so colourful and appealing and introducing some very ambitious vocabulary, you would never know the age group it is designed for. The visuals are spectacular and are a great starting point for a discussion. The word pairs are excellent for helping to use the words in a structured sentence. The older children also found the morphology aspect interesting and this helped them to remember the new vocabulary.
Displaying the word-a-day flip chart is a great way to increase exposure to new vocabulary and make learning new words part of the daily routine. The cartoons are also a fantastic way of exposing children to new words and they really do help them to remember. Through the use of hilarious illustrations and child-friendly definitions, Mrs Wordsmith have made words fun and less intimidating and this makes learning accessible to every child. Ecstatic, exhilarated and overjoyed are just a few words I could use to express my emotions…
Storyteller’s Word a Day – Ages 7-11
With 180 words, flip the page every day to display and learn a new word. This book is designed to be easily displayed with a full-page bright and colourful illustration used to visually represent each word. The children love the pictures and will usually start discussing them without realising. Once interested, you can turn the word stand around and look at the word in more detail. Word pairs are given so the child can see how to use it, along with synonyms and the history of the word which older children find interesting. There is even a story starter for every word that gets the creative juices flowing!
The Storyteller’s Illustrated Dictionary – Ages 7-11
This is a dictionary like no other; no longer just page after page of words that are ’boring’ and sometimes intimidating, but bright, accessible and appealing in a user-friendly format. It is divided into 6 themes (character, weather, taste and smell, action, emotions, settings) to make it easier to locate the words they need for their story. Jam-packed with illustrations, this dictionary provides more than just spellings; all of the illustrated words provide 3 word-pair examples, a definition and a sample sentence.
These features really help the children to get inspired and use the words correctly in their own writing. The only downside with this is the amount of time you can spend looking at it before choosing the best word; I have had to use a timer to make sure we don’t get too engrossed!
The Storyteller’s Card Game - Age 7+
Another way to improve children’s storytelling ability and confidence is through this card game. With 300 illustrated word cards based on the six key storytelling themes of the dictionary, the idea is to provide the best word to go with the story card, for example, words for … a haunted castle could be put down, players then choose the best word card they have to go with the sentence. The winner keeps the card and the first player to collect five story cards wins.
This is a game for three or more players, but I have adapted it to use in a 1:1 situation (with a little imagination!) and this also works well. I just love the illustrations and they never fail to provide a point for discussion.
My Epic Life Word Book – Ages 4-6
Aimed at the younger audience, this is indeed an epic introduction to vocabulary. Once again, the fabulous illustrations keep the pages turning. Words associated with everyday life things such as emotions, food and hygiene, basic maths and the future of technology are brought to life. Word pairs and definitions help the child to understand the main word. I have also used this with older children who have literacy difficulties and they have also really enjoyed it.
One of the best features is tucked away at the back of the book in the form of word cartoons; all you need is a QR scanner to bring the words to life. It is so effective that weeks later children have used the words in conversation because they can visualise the cartoon.
Blah, Blah, Blah – Age 4+
Bursting out of this little box of delights are three phonic card games (easy, medium, hard). The rules are the same for each deck; be the first to get rid of all of your cards, but remember, you must say blah, blah, blah to win otherwise you have to draw four more cards! These are such fun games to play for developing phonic skills and once you have got used to all the extra ha ha, wah wah and cha cha wild cards, it can become fast and wild!
The children really enjoy it and don’t even realise they are practicing their phonics. A real winner!