We’ve been having fun with words for the past month. I thought I’d gather all our books and activities in one location to share with others who might be interested.
What prompted this unit study was the book Camp Fossil Eyes: Digging for the Origins of Words by Mark Abley that I happened to see at our local library. I picked it up and was instantly hooked. The book is all about the origin of words, written in epistolary style as a series of emails from two kids at summer camp back to their parents. The book’s premise is the kids are at a camp where words show up as fossils in the surrounding area, with the history of the word imbedded in the fossil. Everyone in the family has enjoyed this book (Miss Adventure is always disappointed when I stop reading), and the author gets the voice of totally bored teenage girl and enthusiastic teenage boy down perfectly.
From the origin of words, we swing into parts of speech with the Words are CATegorical series of books. These books have everything covered, from verbs and adverbs, nouns and adjectives, to pronouns and prepositions. Each book starts with a definition of the part of speech, and proceeds to illustrate the word type with colored words in the text. They provide enough detail that even I learned some different categories of adverbs and pronouns, although they’re mostly a learn by example type of book.
We finished up the unit with the importance of punctuation, using The Girl’s Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can’t Manage without Apostrophes! and Twenty-Odd Ducks: Why, every punctuation mark counts! by Lynne Truss. Both books use a single sentence on a pair of pages, changing only the punctuation or the apostrophes to change the meaning of the sentence. For example, “see the boys bat” vs. “see the boy’s bat” vs. “see the boys’ bat”, or “Where do you think we’re taking you? To the dungeon?” vs. “Where do you think? We’re taking you to the dungeon.” It was fascinating how much the sentence could differ with such a simple change.
To apply all these bits of grammar, we did some writing this month. We started with poetry, making the rhyming words a specific part of speech, and we’ll end with Mad Libs. We’ve done some commercial Mad Libs, but creating your own is also fun. You just write a little story and then pull out different parts of each sentence. It definitely forces you to apply those different parts of speech we’ve been learning all month. Plus, it’s something fun to wrap up the unit.
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