Sunday, November 15, 2009

word families

We began our new Language Arts block this past month, which focuses on the Word Families. The boys and I painted the town of Conso Nant, which is featured in all the stories we'll be reading this block. We started with a story about The Family of "Eep". As we recalled the story the following day, I inserted "eep" and "eap" cards in the various consonant's houses to make the "eep" words we were saying during the retelling of the story.

The boys and I working on our big town board project, which took the first couple days of the week. We used acrylic paints on a foam-core presentation board.

A word to other Enki families: since both of the boys are already reading fluently, we may not be approaching this material in the same way we would if this was new material to them, or if they were early-readers. However, I knew that this work would really appeal to them, so I decided to include it in our year despite the fact that they don't need the "help" in regards to learning to read.

After our recall, the boys did free drawings (whatever they wanted to draw) from the story. I actually left the room and let them work on their drawings, so I was delightedly surprised to see what they came up with. J chose to draw the "eep" family climbing up the steep mountain in the first part of the story. I am thrilled to see how much of the drawing technique I've introduced to them seems to have taken root even in his free drawings.

Zoo Boy decided to draw the town of Conso Nant (which made me smile, because it says right in the Enki teaching guides that most kids draw the town board during the first story cycle!). He drew each of the houses that the "eep" family members slept in (L, Cr, W, J, and Sl), he drew each family member in front of their respective houses, and he drew a symbol to indicate the resulting word (leap for little sister, creep for baby, weep for big brother, the jeep for Papa Eep, and Mama Eep snoring "zzzzzzz"). And instead of simply writing his title as "The Eep Family", he cleverly (and correctly by this time in the story!) called it "The Leap Creep Weep Jeep Sleep Family".

The following day, as we read the "eep" family limerick, the kids took turns inserting the family cards in the house slots.

This story cycle has really resonated with the boys -- they've loved everything about it, and after just reading the story the first day, they were already writing out eep/eap words. It's even inspired Zoo Boy, my reluctant writer, to want to write more than he ever has (see below)!

J's writing from this story cycle is above. The Enki guides suggest not doing much writing during this block, as the word family work is really about reading skills. But for my kids, it makes sense to focus on writing instead, since I'm just connecting them with the content rather than presenting it as something new. So, I had J write the entire "eep" family limerick over the course of two days. (Two 5-line stanzas each day.) The length of the material was intimidating to him visually, but he displayed his sense of humor despite the challenge to his writing skills -- between the first two stanzas he drew a long frown face in the empty space. At the end of the 2nd stanza (the end of his work the first writing day) he wrote "(phew)". And at the end of the entire poem he wrote "(P.S. Do you like it?) That kid cracks me up....and yes, I DO like it. Very much.

Zoo Boy's writing. This is HUGE for him. I told him that he could write as much or as little as he liked, but that I would like him to write at least once sentence each day. The first day I suggested writing the first line, and that is what he wrote. The 2nd day I suggested the last line. Instead, he decided to write the entire last stanza (about 5 times as much writing as he's ever done at one sitting). Not surprisingly, he got tired after about 3 lines, and we were running late for his music class. So I suggested that he could stop for now, and finish it later. Sure enough, he sat down this morning (without my knowledge of it, I only discovered this when I went to photograph the page!) and finished the verse. Wow. Wow, wow, wow, wow.

I'm looking forward to working with more Word Families in the coming weeks!

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