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Penny Words and Dollar Words

We've been working on character traits and the students have been doing a really great job of learning to describe a character's traits by how they act, think, or believe on the inside and not describe their physical traits.  But we did hit a bit of a snag with the type of words they were using at times.  

You know- the Ad group:  mad, sad, bad, or glad!  Plus, good and nice...So we have made a couple of charts.  

Words that students use all the time or are not exciting or very descriptive are now called Penny Words in my room.

not using overused or less descriptive words, word choice

The students immediately understood what I meant.   Associating these common words with a penny made total sense to them.

using more descriptive and interesting words

Then the more descriptive words or character traits were turned into our Dollar Words chart.

As we have discussions, I hear students saying "that's a penny word!"  They also want to know as we discuss books if their particular word they are using is a "dollar word".  I love that they are paying close attention now to word choice.  This leads them to a better understanding of the shades of meaning author's trying to get across and hopefully will lead to more descriptive word choices during writer's workshop!

I want my students to collect their own penny words and dollar words when they come across them and not just use the charts.  They can use these individual charts for that now.  They are free if you can use them be sure to grab them!

I hope you enjoy the Penny and Dollar Word chartlets.  I go on spring break tomorrow- whooo hooo!


  1. This is a great tip. I can see how it makes total sense to your kids. They do tend to get stuck in a rut when it comes to descriptive words.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  2. Fantastic! What a great way to spice up writing. I can definitely use this in my room.

    Everyone deServes to Learn

  3. That's a great way to describe those words! I haven't seen that before.

  4. Thanks so much, Kimberly Ann! I am glad that you like it. :)

  5. Thank you, Tammy, for thinking the charts are a good idea! It has done wonders for my students to call words penny words and dollar words.

  6. I am glad to hear that the charts are something you can use in your room, Maria! We are always saying use dollar words not penny words. :)

  7. Thank you Barbara! Associating words with pennies and dollars has really helped my students.

  8. I love this! I suspect money makes a strong connection with the kiddos!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

  9. Thank you Sally! You are right- they could quickly make the connection between the amounts of money and the worth of the word. This past week I heard that a word was worth, not a penny or a dollar but in between and they settled on it was a quarter word!! Ha!


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