Monday, February 11, 2008

Gesundheit, readout fop!

I have a sister-in-law who's always sending me interesting stuff. Sometimes it's books, sometimes magazines, sometimes exquisite handmade soap. Sometime in the last year, she sent me this book, and I didn't look at it right away. It was in the midst of getting ready for something at school, or in the midst of getting ready for school to close, or some other generally overwhelming something, so I just didn't look at it.

The truth is, when I was teaching full-time, I didn't really have any time to do fun things with my own kids. It was all business: homework, dinner, pajamas, teeth, bed.

And while I might have used this book in my classroom, I pretty much knew what I was doing, and I was busy enough with what we were already doing that I wasn't looking around for new things to do with them.

But that's all changed, of course, and about a month ago, I opened it up and discovered a very intriguing fun thing just right for Big One and his emergent dictionary skills. And then last week, Big rebelled against the skill and drill math work we were doing, and I decided to give this book a comprehensive look-through to see what else might be in there.

This book is great! There is such a variety of fun and constructive (note to readers: when I say constructive, what I really mean is educational, but I don't want to be a dork about it) things to do with kids in here. Math things, reading things, outside things, nature things, small motor, large motor, you name it. The chapters are arranged roughly by topic, and by age-appropriateness within the chapters.

Many of the suggestions seem perfect for homeschooling families, and when I read about the author, I found out why. Di Hodges is an experienced teacher who "spent many years helping geographically isolated families teach their preschoolers at home" in Australia. There are certainly many excellent suggestions for preschoolers, but the age recommendations go up to 10 plus, and I found lots of things that are just right for Big One, too.

Just one example: the idea that originally caught my eye is a way to write a coded message to a child who is learning to look things up in a dictionary. You write out your message, and then look up each of the words in turn, writing down for your child the word that immediately preceeds the actual word for your message.

So one day last week, I wrote a message to Big that said:

Gesundheit readout fop amylase adventitious. Yosemite Valley nee Youngstown clip, Papete, penchant, ancillary Youngstown Jackdaw.
Louver, maltreat

You would need to have the exact dictionary we use for school to be able to translate this accurately, so I will do it for you:

Get ready for an adventure. You need your clipboard, paper, pencil, and your jacket.
Love, Mama.

He did this happily, although somewhat trepidatiously (he has learned to suspect that when I say "adventure," we're not going to Disney) and got a lot of dictionary practice in as well.

His adventure, by the way, was to go outside and create a map of our backyard, which will eventually develop into a map of our neighborhood, including the grocery store, two parks, and the place we go for his music lesson. This was a project I'd started to work on with my classroom last fall, but we didn't get to complete it because the school closed. Big One is often unsure of where we are, even when we're only a few blocks from home, and I'm hoping this project will help get him more grounded with an understanding of his surroundings.

Thanks for the book, Ipo!


Jennifer C said...

Now you've got me asking - what dictionary do you use at home?

Granna Judy said...

I think this is a great way to enhance his dictionary skills -- what a clever idea!

elsie deluxe said...

We have several dictionaries, but the one we use for school is The American Heritage Dictionary, third edition, pub 1992. According to the cover, it is "based on the bestselling American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language." If anyone knows how they're different, I'd be curious.

We use this one mostly because it is paperback, and small, not so overwhelming for the young'uns.

We also have a Webster's Second, Unabridged, printed in 1939. Now I'm bragging.