Monday, September 10, 2012

First Language Lessons and My Kinetic Learner

Well, we're back to doing school, although we're all only at about 85% better.

For our grammar curriculum we are using First Language Lessons For the Well-Trained Mind (Level 1) by Jessie Wise. I like this book a lot. The first half can be done completely verbally, which is good since Builder Boy isn't completely fluent with handwriting. However the problem is that it is mostly verbal when Builder Boy is a kinetic learner. He can memorize the definition of a noun, but couldn't apply the knowledge very well. He could memorize the poem, but had a lot of trouble staying in front of a person and say it without twisting around and looking everywhere but the person he was saying it for. And the family relationships confused him to no end. So here is what I did for lessons 1-10 to make it a kinetic learning experience.

Definition of a noun (Lesson 1)
   I didn't think of this until after he already knew the definition, but I spread it out onto 5 large index cards for the boys to put in order. [A noun is the name of] [a person] [place] [thing] [idea]

The Caterpillar poem (Lesson 2)
   To help Builder Boy remember the poem and be able to focus when saying it to someone we came up with hand gestures for each of the lines. It really helped.

The Caterpillar, by Chirstina G. Rossetti

Brown and furry,/ Caterpillar in a hurry; wiggle index finger like a caterpillar crawling
Take your walk/ To the shady leaf, or stalk. wiggle index finger going along your other arm with the hand up like a leaf

May no toad spy you, wag your head and finger side to side for no
May the little birds pass by you; wave your hand like the bird going past your body

Spin and die, twirl/spin your finger in the air
To live again a butterfly. cup your hands together to make a cocoon, then open and make a butterfly  

Family relationships (Lesson 3, 4, and 6)
   I have tried at different times and in different ways to explain family relationships to Builder Boy. The book wants the kids to be able to say "my father's father is my grandfather." That was too confusing for Builder Boy. First I tried making a family tree, using names and circles and squares and lines. That was way to abstract for him. Next I tried drawing the family tree with pictures (stick figures. I can NOT draw people.) I thought about doing it with photos, but that's when our color printer stopped working, and I didn't get around to getting pictures for it. Finally after leaving it for some time I came up with what worked for us. Builder Boy loves making "books," a piece of plain paper folded like a card. So I took it really slow and had him first just draw a picture of himself and his brother, with the word "brother" over it. The next day I had him add his friend and her sister, with the word "sister" over it. Then for grandmother and grandfather he drew a picture of his dad and his father's father and his father's mother. (That how they word it in FLL, so that's what we did.) That finally helped it "click" for him.

Common Noun, Proper Noun (Lesson 7 and 8)
   By the time we (slowly) got to these lessons Builder Boy could easily tell you the definition of a noun. When he heard it he could tell me the difference between a common and a proper noun, but when told a noun he could not tell you if it was common or proper. So after some struggle I came up with a game to practice. I wrote [proper noun] and [common noun] on index cards and then I made index cards with either a common or a proper noun and had him sort the cards. I started with just a few and I subtly used different shades of green marker for common nouns and different shades of blue for proper nouns. Example: [the librarian] [a boy] [mother] and [Uncle Baldy] [Mrs. Erb] [Daddy] I gave them to him one at a time. The next day I added more cards, only these were in color pairs, one common and one proper, and he had to figure out which was which. And to make sure he wasn't depending on them being a pair, I had one color that had three cards, and one pair that was both common nouns. Example: [Christian G. Rossetti] [writer] [Dr. Spears] [dentist] [doctor] [store clerk] [teacher] I also made sure I used different titles for proper nouns like "Pastor," "Mr.," "Dr.," etc. This really helped and he can identify new common and proper nouns, even if he's only hearing them.

We haven't done a lot about different jobs in the community, so we took some extra time practicing with the game and each day for six days we read about/learned about a different occupation. I found a site with paper dolls where you color a boy or girl to look like you and then you can try different outfits from different jobs on. I think I had to register for the site (free, and they haven't been bothering me with a ton of e-mails) but they are free to print and are black and white. There are actually two types of dolls, a taller one and a shorter one, and I didn't realize that until after I had printed some, but Builder Boy didn't mind. Also when you open the document I didn't realize that some of them are multiple pages and have more than just the one you selected, so print selectively. We did the builder, chef, doctor, police man, fire fighter, and astronaut.

*Click here for my post about the next ten lessons.*


The lessons and the poem we got from FLL1. The original link is to the author's printing press website, the picture is a link to the Amazon listing. I came up with the extra activities on my own. I don't get paid for my reviews.

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