Monday, November 25, 2013

Woe Is I, Jr. Lessons: Chapter 2


I have written lessons to accompany Woe Is I, Jr., a grammar handbook for kids. You can read my introductory comments here, the lesson for chapter 1 here.
1.   Read chapter 2 and do what O’Conner suggests.

2.   Write five words for each plural ending (s, es, ies) which don’t appear on any of O’Conner’s lists. (You can do this informally or use the worksheet here.)

3.   Write about a recent trip to a store. Make every noun plural.

4.   Practice your plurals here.

5. Show us what happened at the store in the comments.

Go to Lesson 3.

Note: This post contains an affiliate link.

free clip art  

Friday, November 22, 2013

I Know What I Like, a Pattern to Follow

Norma Simon wrote I Know What I Like, a picture book with a very specific pattern.

The first set goes like this:
I like to make pudding.
I like to make pictures.
I like to make faces.
But I don't like to make my bed or pick up in my room. (I do it anyway.)
The rest are like it.
I like to (verb)....
I like to (same verb)....
I like to (same verb)....
But I don't like to (same verb)....
After reading the book together, talk about the pattern: three likes followed by a don't like. (If you can't find a copy of this out-of-print book, you can still easily do the assignment. The prewriting sheet will help you.)

Under Set 1 on the prewriting sheet, write an example together. If you have a student new to writing, the sentences can be simple like Simon's. For students who can do more, encourage longer, more detailed sentences.

Here is one student's example:
I like to make fresh chocolate chip cookies (and eat them).

I like to make up funny jokes that make me laugh so hard I cry.

I like to make whoopie pies with aunt Elisabeth because we don't see her very often and she makes great whoopie pies!  I like it because sometimes Poppop sticks M & M's in them when Grandmom is not looking because if she is he is in big time trouble!

I don't like to make "awkward scenes" in the grocery store because that turns my mom hot pink and I throw a fit and sooner or later my bottom starts hurting from that spanking! Well, I have never done it, but I also don't want to try.
Invite your children to work on the other three sets.

If appropriate, push your writers beyond their first draft. Revising their writing will polish it, making it shine a little brighter.

Please post an "I like/I don't like" set in the comments.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

free clip art

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Portfolders: More Than Cutting, Coloring, and Pasting


What is wrong with this picture?

Nothing, really. If your students follow all of the instructions, they will end up with a mini- book that highlights the seasons of the year. 

The problem is that someone else did most of the work. All that is left for your students to do is cut, color, and paste.

Can you accomplish a similar goal, allowing your students to more fully engage in the process of learning, doing more than complete a worksheet in disguise? 

I think so. And it's not difficult!

First, teach a lesson on seasons in whatever way best suits you and your children. It need not be formal or lengthy. You can read books about the seasons, taking special note of the trees. You can talk about how trees change from season to season. You can watch a video on the seasons or find pictures on the internet. 

Let your student choose a colored sheet of paper. Cut it to the size you want. If you want each section to be 2.5" x 2.5", then you should cut it to 2.5" x 10".

Mark the four sections of the accordion-fold book by drawing (with a pencil)  light lines. These lines will be erased later. You can fold it back and forth now, or wait until it is complete.

Your students will draw, color or paint, and label a tree for each season. If the block is large enough and you want to add a dash of writing to the assignment, have the students write a brief caption about or description of each tree. They will also decide on a title and make a cover illustration.

If this is a once-and-done project, your students can draw and write directly on the accordion-fold book. But if you want to reduce the chances of tears (and a ruined project), it might be better to make blocks of paper that can eventually be pasted in each section. That way, if one tree is a flop, it can be redone. No big deal. Same with the captions. They can be typed and pasted to the frames which means less pressure to get the handwriting to fit exactly right in a small space.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An Acrostic Poem

Do you have reluctant writers in the house? Maybe you can entice them with an easy assignment: an acrostic poem about themselves because, you know, it's pretty easy to write about ourselves.

1. Have them write their names vertically on a sheet of paper.  








2. Ask them to write descriptive phrases of themselves for each letter. Janessa's looks like this:

Jr is my nickname that my dad gave to me when I was little. It stands for Janessa Renae.

crazy human being (that can sometimes be annoying)

ever has, never will like going to bed

ats lots of baked oatmeal because it is very "rumbly to my tumbly"

ugar is what I like best because it is good to eat but it is not good for you.

hopping is fun to do with Grandmom because she gets me anything I want.

n actress

3. You have a choice here. You can accept the acrostics "as is," or you can encourage your writers to go beyond the first phrases spilled out on paper, revising some or all of the lines to make them more descriptive. Some kids will be open to toying with their work after setting it aside for a day.

Others might need a little push to revise. For them, you can make specific rules. Let's think of a few possibilities.
  • No word may be repeated.
  • The acrostic must include at least one strong verb, adjective, and adverb.
  • Include alliteration in one line.

A related idea:
Make an acrostic poem for something else you are studying. It could be a time period (Revolutionary War), a person (George Washington), a place (Pennsylvania), anything really.

free clip art

Monday, November 18, 2013

Woe Is I, Jr. Lessons: Chapter 1

I have written supplementary lessons for Woe Is I, Jr., a grammar handbook for kids. You can find my introductory comments and the first lesson here.
1.   Read Chapter 1 and do what O’Conner suggests.    

2.   Watch Schoolhouse Rock’s Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla, a video about pronouns.  

3.   Write a paragraph or two about a funny or scary or challenging activity you did with someone else. The catch? Don’t use any pronouns. Copy and paste it; then rewrite it with pronouns. When you compare the two, what do you discover? 

4.   Practice your pronouns at Complete the handouts or interactive exercises for Pronoun Case.

5. I would love to see your funny, scary, or challenging paragraphs in the comments. Please share.

Go to Lesson 2.

Note: This post contains an affiliate link.

free clip art  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Writing Process Described

A mother of a six-year-old girl wrote to Julie at to detail her experience with homeschooling. The part that struck me--and that I direct you to here--describes the process of working on a fairytale project with her daughter. She does well at showing the writing process, the goals fixed on nurturing her child's voice and building her confidence rather than insisting on correctness. You can find the description here in the fourth paragraph which begins, "I told her we were going to do...."

Monday, November 11, 2013

Woe Is I, Jr. Lessons: Introduction

It wasn't long ago that I mentioned a grammar handbook for kids: Woe Is I, Jr. by Patricia T. O'Conner. I said then that I might work the book into lessons here, but I changed my mind and  made supplementary lessons for the book instead.

I will post them on Mondays, chapter by chapter. Choose as many or as few as you like. The goal is to enliven the study of grammar by moving kids, grades 5ish to 8ish, away from the monotony of workbooks to assignments that allow them to tap into their creativity.

Having the book will be essential. It is the spine of the study.

Okay, call your student(s) to the computer. It's time to begin!


Let’s start by playing a little game, okay? I say a word. You blurt out the first word that comes to mind.


Here we go.                       

Ice cream:



If you’re like most kids, you probably said happy words for ice cream and beach and a not-so-happy word for grammar. But here you are with not only a grammar handbook but a supplement as well—and not a beach or bowl of ice cream in sight. Poor you!

It’s okay, though; it won’t be as bad as you think. At least I hope not. The goal is not to transform you into a grammar guru but to help you master the basics of your language which will benefit your life no matter where you go, no matter what you do.

Fortunately for you, Ms. O’Conner didn’t write a dense, dry, boring book. She wrote a lively one, engaging and witty. Through the text, she talks directly to you, the “younger grammarphobe.”

But I must warn you that she makes an assumption about kids: she assumes you are attracted to words that erupt from your ears, nose, and mouth. You know, words like earwax and boogers, vomit and belch. If vocabulary like this grabs your attention, be prepared to chuckle as you learn. If it offends you or insults your intelligence, overlook it to explore the concepts underneath. Remember, the alternative is dense, dry, and boring.

As you’re reading Woe Is I, Jr., you can do the following, as much or as little as you and your teacher decide.

1.   READ each chapter carefully, pretending that Ms. O’Conner is your tutor sitting beside you on the couch. When she asks you to do something, do it. Avoid the temptation to be a passive reader. Instead, think, engage, learn. Letting your eyes glaze and your mind wander will only waste your time, and you’ll know no more grammar than when you started.

2.   WRITE short pieces to help you apply the concepts you are learning. After all, if you can’t apply the grammar, what good is it? Right? I can’t hear you. Right? (Typing the pieces is recommended, as it will make the entire process easier.)

3.   COMPLETE the handouts included with this supplement. Handout titles are underlined and linked.

4.   PRACTICE concepts by following the links to more grammar fun.

You are now ready for the introduction. Enjoy!
1.   Read the Introduction of Woe Is I, Jr.

2.   Are you a grammarphobe, “somebody who has a phobia, or, fear, about grammar”?  If you were to camp on the line below, where would you pitch your tent?
(I’ll check in with you later to see if the tent moves one way or the other.)

3.   Okay, get it out of your system before you read any farther. Write a piece about anything—your opinion of grammar, for instance—with your absolutely worst grammar. Put punctuation marks in random places. Spell words incorrectly. Forget capital letters. (Even if you don’t have a single English teacher gene in your body, the sight of your writing will probably make you tremble.) Read it aloud. What do you think? Then give it to a friend to read. What is his/her reaction?

4.   How much do you already know about grammar? Well, let’s find out. In the left column of Grammar Glossary, write what you know about each word. Don’t worry if the sheet is bare when you’re finished. Blank spaces show you have some learning to do--which isn’t a bad thing.

5. I would love to see your "bad writing" example. Would you mind putting it in the comments?

Go to Lesson 1

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

free clip art  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hey, Little Ant

Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose is the perfect book to teach point of view, but this time let's use it to encourage students to write in four modes: persuasive, expository, narrative, and descriptive.

Here are some assignments, which may be paragraph length or longer, that students can complete:

1. Read Hey, Little Ant.

2. Camp on the last page, where the narrator asks the reader whether the kid should step on the ant. Write a persuasive piece, giving your opinion of what the kid should do. Of course, it is important to include convincing (or funny) reasons and/or examples to back up your opinion.

3. Study the picture of the ant on the last page. Describe the ant as he awaits his fate. Use lots of details which include the senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch).

4. Write an expository piece. Explain the situation between the boy and the ant OR explain the procedure for killing an ant OR explain the ant's get-away plan.

5. Write a narrative piece. Tell the story of the kid and the ant OR tell the story of a time you encountered an insect.  What did you do?  (It's okay to embellish it to make it more interesting!)

Those are my ideas. If you think of ones that suit you better, use them instead!

Share students' finished pieces in the comments. It would make my day!

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

free clip art  

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...