The Dictionary Project

Begun in 1993, the goal of the Dictionary Project is to ensure that every third grader in South Carolina's Beaufort County (and neighboring counties) has his or her own English dictionary to use at home and at school. Every fall, dictionaries are presented to local third-graders with an accompanying lesson that explains the book's usage and underscores its importance. In 2002 the Dictionary Project distributed its 24,000th dictionary.
Look it up! A dictionary is perhaps the first and most powerful reference tool that a child should own. Its usefulness goes beyond the spellings, pronunciations, and definitions it lists; it is a companion for solving the problems that arise as a child develops his or her reading,writing, and creative thinking abilities. Students benefit from an increased self-reliance and resourcefulness inspired by the maxim ``look it up.'' Teachers benefit by knowing that their students have consistent access to a tool for homework and in-class explorations. The New Concise Webster's Dictionary (right) was chosen by the Dictionary Project for its thoroughness and ease of use.

Fundraising Christmas card produced by an area third-grader Funds to buy dictionaries are raised through donations from individuals and local businesses and bolstered by the sale of special Dictionary Project Christmas cards, designed by students who received dictionaries during the previous year (right). Approximately one dollar buys a child a dictionary, a bookmark, and the know-how to use them effectively. 
Distribution Students with their dictionaries Dictionary Project volunteers visit each school in the area once a year to distribute the dictionaries.  Students are encouraged to participate in a puppet show that demonstrates the dictionary in action. After the show, a brief lesson on how to use the book is given, and students are asked to find certain words to demonstrate their comprehension. Demonstration on dictionary usage At the end of the visit, the children are asked to use the dictionary to learn a word that they don't yet know and to submit it to a newsletter that is published twice a year by the Dictionary Project staff. The newsletter summarizes the new words and shows how the children use them in context.

Corporate Sponsors The Dictionary Project is very grateful to the donors who make our program possible. Below are the current corporate sponsors:  We would also like to extend a special thank-you to our "angels", Hubert and Renée, for their support!

Other Projects Since the inception of the original two Dictionary Projects in Savannah and Beaufort County, many similar efforts have been initiated in towns nationwide: There are now Dictionary Projects in Metter, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Sparta, North Carolina; Rio Rancho, New Mexico; Florida; and Washington, D.C. These projects are administered by volunteers who handle fundraising for the dictionaries and visit area schools to provide local students with the books and education needed for them to look it up.

More info Your generous support over the years has made it possible for us to extend our project beyond Beaufort County to serve the elementary schools in Jasper, Hampton and Allendale Counties in South Carolina. If you are interested in donating money or time to the Dictionary Project, or if you have questions about how you can start a project in your area, you are invited to contact us by sending a letter to the following address:
The Dictionary Project
P.O. Box 6381
Hilton Head Island, SC 29938

Quotes from educators about the project:

Thank you again for your efforts on behalf of our students. They were thrilled with their new dictionaries and have been using them regularly!

We can't thank you enough for doing the Christmas Card project. It has been so good for the kids' self-esteem. Please continue to do that part of the Dictionary Project.