Words for Thirds: Tualco Grange celebrates 10th year of giving dictionaries to third grade kids

By Polly Keary, Editor
It's Dictionary Day at Fryelands Elementary on Friday, and every kid in class is peering into a brand-new, bright yellow paperback as Leslie Wells explains how to use them.
She talks about how to find words, but more than that, she directs them to the back of the book, where appendices contain information about the states, about weights and measurements and more.
"This book can help you be successful for years,GÇ¥ she said.
Wells is from the Tualco Grange, and this marks the 10th year in a row of the "Words for ThirdsGÇ¥ program, in which the grange buys a dictionary for every third grade student in the district.
"It started out as a National Grange project,GÇ¥ said Wells.GÇ¥They sent out word to all the granges. Our state adopted it as a state program and then we adopted it. The first year we distributed dictionaries was 2004. Those kids are now out of high school.GÇ¥
The 130 or so members of the Tualco Grange raise the money for the dictionaries by winning prize money for their grange display at the fair, which can net them several hundred dollars. They also hold pancake breakfasts twice a year, and that seems to be enough to buy the dictionaries in bulk.
They cost about $1.25 each, and Wells said the grange thinks they are the best of the student dictionaries available.
"It's more than just a list of words,GÇ¥ she said. "It can help with math and social studies and geography; it has reference tables and maps. It can help them with other things besides spelling and the parts of speech.GÇ¥
For kids raised on digital everything, the students are surprisingly excited about their low-tech gift.
There is soon to be a test on state names; the discovery of the maps in the back of the book caused some excitement.
Wells said it's nice to see the kids enjoy the gift year after year.
"The kids are tickled to death to get them,GÇ¥ she said.


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