Showing posts with label vocabulary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vocabulary. Show all posts

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dear Mr. President

Winslow Press started the creation of a series called “Dear Mr. President” – I think a wonderful introduction.  I love the five books that were made.  I wish there was more.  I don’t know why it was discontinued – or so it seems.  Winslow Press doesn’t seem to offer publication later than 2002 (that I could see) and it doesn’t appear the site has been updated since May 2009.    Perhaps Winslow Press is one of many businesses that has had to file bankruptcy in the last decade and a half.

The three books I will focus on most are:

Though the Letters are fictionalized, information provided in the correspondence is based upon meticulous research.  I like how Winslow press refers reader to “learn more” though I personally did not find the useful, I like the concept of getting readers interest and encouraging research.

Presidents may have opened their mail at one time, but somewhere along the way the mail was handled by the secretary and now an entire team, I would imagine.  I don’t imagine the correspondence would have existed any other way but through our minds.

The poor coal miner wouldn’t have been able to send as many letters to Roosevelt as he did, as he would not have had the means for postage.  Nor would a slave have been able to correspond as they had even less means than did the coal miner.

All letters are start out with the twelve-year-old’s point of view.  Lettie has been taught by her mistress how to read and write.  Her mistress is the only child of a widower who most likely teaches Lettie out of boredom.  She encourages Lettie to write to Abraham Lincoln who responds. 

Knowing that the correspondence will put her in harms way should others learn that a slave has been taught to read and write. The letters are addressed to her mistress.  Correspondence allows the reader to understand the purpose of the Civil War and President Lincoln’s position and a thin view of what some slaves had to go through.

I think I found the miner story the most interesting.  To be certain that he received all of the young miner’s letters and weren’t open by his secretary, Pres. “Teddy” Roosevelt had the young miner address the letters to his son.  I do think I read a small error when Teddy expressed that Kermit was 13 in one letter and then 12 in the next. 

Besides reading about the conditions that the miners had to face, I enjoyed discovering trivial things that took place during Theodore Roosevelt’s reign.  He spoke with affection about all of the animals that belonged to his children – and baby-sitting the guinea pigs – which he really did do. 

And then there was Franklin D. Roosevelt who had some good ideas.  Some did not work out to his expectations.  His correspondence is with a girl of Italian decent.  She talks about different family members having to go on strike and about the hobos jumping freight lines.  That was interesting.

I also like how each of them use big words (which are capped and bolded) to describe things and use of contractions (which are underlined) to peak reader's interest not only in history, but grammar and vocabulary as well.

Winslow Press made it a point to caption each page with the words: “To learn more about specific mines, go to”, “to learn more about unions, go to”,  “to learn more abut Christmas during the civil war, go to”, “to learn more about the Dredge Scott Act, go to”

As previously mentioned, I actually didn’t find the winslowpress site at all useful, but I do like the idea of suggesting to readers to research mentioned subjects.  Wikipedia is always helpful for me, personally. 

Once the correspondence ends, there is a time line and brief history about said president.  A snapshot of a letter in his actual handwriting and then a letter the way it may have appeared by said 12 year- old.

Another interesting thing after the letters and time line is a synopsis of how the mail was delivered at that time and how much postage costs.  For more information on the post office it gives the Winslow site.  But there are so many sources that one can go to for more information.

The “Dear Mr. President” series is beautiful.  I think it needs to be continued. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Early Reader

Before Jenna started kindergarten we would read books like “The Little Red Hen” and “Frog and Toad”.  I would point to words as I read them and as words started to repeat, I would have her say them.  So before school started she was able to read words such as: hen, frog, toad, red, Not I, said and he.  She could not read the names of states on License plates – nor was she educated enough to decipher between state and country.
The rules of the license plate game (according to Tony) are rather simple.  All participants need to look for license plates from out of the state.  Whoever sees and says the most is the winner. Tony would often play the game himself but would say the names out loud. Jenna decided that she would play too.
“Arizona,” she’d say.
“I already called Arizona.”
“You didn’t see Idaho.”
I don’t think she did.  But she insisted on it.  Tony ended up giving it to her out of pity.
“Wyoming!” Tony called.
“Green Land,” said Jenna.  We both knew for a fact that she didn’t see a Green Land license plate.
After Tony stopped laughing he said, “You didn’t see Greenland.”
“Yes I did.”
“Jenna, it is highly probable that you did not see a car with a Greenland license plate,” I said.
“And besides, Greenland isn’t even a state.”
“You can’t count other countries?” I asked.  “I think you should get extra points for countries. I think it would be beyond cool if I were to see a license plate from Greenland.”
“That means I get extra points,” said Jenna.
“You didn’t see a Greenland license plate.”
After kindergarten, big words came easy to her.  She could read princess, museum, dinosaur and purple-licious without any problems.  The word that stumped her every time was the word “of”.  Missed it every time.  It wasn’t spelled correctly in her opinion.  It should have been “UV” – what a dreadful word.
She has now added Spanish words to her vocabulary – saying them – not spelling them.  Spelling is still not her thing – though she does seem to read well.  She obviously doesn’t pay attention to how words are spelled.
Still has a great vocabulary and for the most part really does know what she’s talking about.  And I don’t have to pay her to write stories anymore as I did here and here.     

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Joy of Learning

          I attended a PTO meeting yesterday.  When it was over, the only father who was present was commenting on his son’s vocabulary.  The son had asked him to answer the question about the velocity of something.

          “He actually used the word ‘velocity’ and he’s only in first grade.  What first grader goes around using the word ‘velocity’?”

          I laughed.  My Jenna’s always had quite the large vocabulary.  Even at three there didn’t seem to be any word too sophisticated for her vocabulary.  She thrived on learning not just words and meanings but usually welcomed whatever else came her way.

          Not only did she know how to pronounce the words, but took on meanings as well.  I am reminded of a particular time when she told me that she was going to demonstrate (that’s right – demonstrate) how the armadillo protects himself.

          She puts a silver ball on the floor and says, “Now pretend this is an armadillo” and then backs up a bit and raises her arms in the air and makes an angry face. 
“Now pretend that I am a predator,” she says with her still angry face and creeps toward the ball getting ready to make her pounce.

“Now when the armadillo sees his predator, he will turn himself into a ball,” she then kicks the ball, “and it rolls away.  That is how an armadillo protects itself.” She says matter-of-factly.

          “Oh,” I say with admiration not only of her knowledge, but her ability to turn herself into what I thought looked like a dinosaur.

          Jenna is a sponge.  She soaks up information and enthusiastically shares her knowledge – though I didn’t have to pump her so much for information just a few years back.  She doesn’t go into detail like she did just a few years back.

          Even before she talked, she processed information.  We could never read a book from cover to cover without her stopping every few pages to match the animal in the picture with one of her own stuffed animals, or demonstrate her counting skills, or point to other objects of the same shape and/or color.  She really is a fascinating piece of work.

          Corey was that way, too.  Still is.  Absorbing and processing information and keeping it on file to pull out of his head – usually on demand. He’s always had a rather large vocabulary, too.  Great knowledge and understanding.  And he can speak to almost anybody on his or her own level and use the vocabulary that will most be understood. He could help our baby sister Kayla with any of her school work – except for penmanship.  Mom had specifically requested that Corey not teach Kayla how to write.

          I love the enthusiasm.  I am grateful for those who are excited to learn and to share and assist those of us who aren’t quite as knowledgeable and have smaller vocabularies.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Increasing Our Vocabulary

          I am familiar with the word “Hullabaloo” – I have used it before.  Not often.  It’s barely in my vocabulary.  I don’t recall ever saying that word around Jenna.  But she picked it up from somewhere.

          She and I classmate were sitting behind me in the car and were talking about “eating the flag”.  What?  She explained that the class had made American flags out of graham crackers, blue and white frosting, red licorice, and chocolate chips. 

          “Oh, sorry,” she says. “WHITE chocolate chips.”

          She then turns to her classmate and says, “Some people in this car don’t believe that white chocolate is really chocolate.  She thinks white chocolate is really just a bunch of hullabaloo”

          She may be right.  After all, if it doesn’t have any cocoa products, I don’t think it has the right to be called “chocolate” – but I don’t ever remember using the word “hullabaloo” to describe my disgust.  It’s not that I dislike white chocolate so much as I am appalled that it doesn’t live up to the “chocolate” name.

          I was so floored by her vocabulary that I didn’t think to ask her where she had heard that word.  When she returned home I asked. 

          Martha Speaks,” she said proudly.

          I do like that she enjoys PBS programs and that she learns from them.  Thank you PBS for shows like Martha Speaks and Word Girl that help my child to increase her vocabulary.