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What’s in a word? We use words everyday. Words name things, describe things, value things. Words protest, champion, exclaim! We know watchwords, passwords, words of honor. Words form the basis of verbal and written communication. Etymologists study origins of words. Languages add words as needed or as people adopt them into their culture. A rule of thumb is to know 1000 words in order to get by in a foreign country, yet the English language has approximately 1 million words! Words mean different things to different people (Vernacular). Designers put ideas into words. For instance, “wall” explains a surface in a room; “boundary” explains the wall as a visual or physical barrier; “edge” explains an artistic phenomena; “plane” Implies abstract geometry. Words begin to be the voice of the designer.

Find your word power!!!

Activity 1 Make A Word Picture

Take two simple pictures from a magazine. Cut out the pictures and paste them on the top of an 8 ½" x 11" paper. Fold the paper in half longways. Name what you can see in the picture. If you can think of different names, list them, such as: car, auto, vehicle, transportation, machine, etc.

Activity 2 Make a Word Painting

Is a door just a door? Take a walk around your block with a digital camera. Take pictures of each front door of each building and house that you walk by. Print a contact sheet of your doors and below each door, write a word that best describes the door. Is the door an entrance, invitation, portal, threshold, menace, barricade, view in, keep out? Try to name the doors in your neighborhood by the message that the door conveys. Check out:

Use your word power! Describe difference!

Activity 3 Word Poem

Choose 3 objects. Draw or photograph them and place them at the top of a piece of paper. On the left side of the paper, write the name of the object, letter by letter, vertically in a large font size. Beside each letter write a word starting with that letter that describes the object.


  1. The study of origins of words is called?

  2. A person, place or thing is a:

  3. Do words mean different things to different people?

  4. How many languages are in use on earth today?

  5. What language is the most universal language?


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