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A March of the Muses-Essex Elementary School First Vocabulary Parade

Superintendent Pam Beaudoin and Principal Sheila McAdams share that Essex Elementary School students participated in their first “Vocabulary Parade,” one of several initiatives planned to strengthen vocabulary skills.

Students selected words connected with their ongoing studies. Kindergarten students chose words involving emotions, connecting with the grade-level emphasis on social-emotional learning. Grades 1 and 2 chose adjectives and more descriptive nouns. Grade 3 selected prefixes, suffixes, and root words, while Grade 4 students chose words with multiple meanings. 

Fifth-graders created their own words using Greek and Latin roots.

Students created signs and posters and paraded through the hallways to the enjoyment of families and staff. Some staff members joined in the fun, displaying words such as “vibrant,” dexterity,” “inconspicuous,” and “staff.”

Emphasis on building word meaning – through prefixes, suffixes, and fluid use of a variety of words – builds knowledge that will reinforce student performance across grade levels. 

“We know that building word awareness, building a base of nuanced vocabulary, and building curiosity about words they encounter deepen students’ reading skills. Oral vocabulary is a great predictor of reading comprehension. Projects like the Vocabulary Parade lay the groundwork for strong readers,” said Caitlin Featherstone, an EES Reading Specialist.

The concept of a “Vocabulary Parade” originates in author Debra Fraiser’s book, Miss Alaineus, A Vocabulary Disaster, which has prompted Parades in schools across the nation. Students bring the meaning of words to life through delightful costumes exhibiting the word and their definitions, reinforcing that words have power. 

The Parade follows a community read of Peter Reynolds’ The Word Collector, sponsored by the Hooper Fund.

“My hope is that this, along with the many other fun and engaging activities that happen all over our school, will encourage a curiosity about words in our students that will stay with them on their lifelong learning adventure!” Grade 1 teacher Emily Dwyer said.


(Grade 1 teacher Emily Dwyer participates in the Vocabulary Parade, displaying the word “ostentatious.”)