Monday, November 08, 2010

Words, Beautiful Words!

After co-op this afternoon, and after math (ratios are giving us trouble), we started in on the new language arts program I recently bought.  It is by Michael Clay Thompson, and combines Latin based vocabulary (Caesar's English I), composition (Paragraph Town), and poetry (Building Poems).  I am adding this stuff into our already completely jam-packed schedule, not replacing anything, which seems completely crazy, even to me.  But I couldn't resist!  Travis needed a vocabulary program of some sort, and I've been itching to get in some poetry, and the paragraph composing book seemed like it would be useful for both kids.  The biggest draw, though, was that I figured the kids could work through these books together, and we've been having such a good time studying Ellen McHenry's Brain book together that I decided to ignore our already overflowing schedule and tattered budget and give Mr. Thompson a try.

If today was representative, I think we're going to be very happy with our new books!  Paragraph Town was fine (grammar review, talking ducks who discuss writing), Caesar was just an introduction but tomorrow looks hopeful, but Poetry was a Hit!  We read about "singing" poems, which one does to become aware of the personalities of vowels and consonants.  I wrote "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" and "Fumy, spiritous mists inhabit this place," (Sylvia Plath) on the whiteboard, in black for the consonants and green for the vowels, and we took turns reading them -- just consonants, just vowels, then combined.  It was fun, and the children (and I) could really appreciate how the sounds were contributing to the sense of those lines. 

Of course, we had such a good time grrrr-ing and hissing our consonants and making beautiful rich, round vowels that we didn't get to some of the Other good things on the schedule.  But I want them to love words, and I think this program is going to be worth our time.

Oh, and can you believe that I was the only mom at co-op today who loved I, Juan de Pareja?  It was the book for Katie's group (Travis had The Second Mrs. Giaconda) and I read it to her.  It is historical fiction, about the Spanish painter Velazquez and his devoted slave.  Katie and  I thought it was wonderful, and at least one other child really liked it, but most were indifferent.  I think the consensus was that they wanted Juan to be more independent and strong -- more like Amos Fortune, in Amos Fortune, Free Man.  Much as I admired Amos, Juan was easier for me to relate to, and I loved the way the author included so many details about paintings that we were later able to find in art books!  Katie's next book, which she could read on her own but which I will read aloud because I'll be leading the discussion, is In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson.  I hope it's as good as I, Juan!


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