Friday: We wrapped up a wonderful week in Witty Wordplay! Thank you for giving your child the opportunity to learn more about language and writing. I hope the skills they honed will help them in the coming school year. I also hope it inspires them to write stories, poems, and songs for the fun of writing! Along with a summary of our day, this blog post includes extensions to the lessons that you can use at home to continue this learning.
This morning I read Max’s Words by Kate Banks. The title character cuts words out of magazines and newspapers and moves them around to create sentences and stories. This would be a great activity to try at home. You can make it a game by challenging your child to rearrange the same set of words to see how many sentences they can make. We sorted environmental print from food packages to classify types of words (adjectives, nouns, alliteration, etc.). Your child can do the same thing with the words they cut out. We also took a word walk and classified the words students found in our building. This could be adapted to be a car game by reading words on signs/billboards and identifying the type of word, thinking of words that rhyme with the word, or using adjective alliteration to describe a noun.
As the culmination for the study of language as a system, we completed a systems diagram for English. Then, students worked in small groups to read Alma, and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal in Spanish and English. As a class, we discussed similarities between the languages and completed a systems diagram for Spanish. Students also learned about Cherokee syllabary and Pigpen code today. They brought home their completed linguist field journal. There is a page they can complete at home where they can write their opinion about their favorite language studied.
Students synthesized their learning to complete the final project of the week. They each developed their own language! Students determined if the language is spoken, written, or both. They determined if the language uses letters, symbols, or syllables. Each child created an informational poster about their language. We pretended the classroom was a “museum of languages” and students had the opportunity to read about each new language! I hope your child uses their language to write/tell stories or write secret messages for siblings or friends to decode. It was so exciting to watch their ideas develop as they created these languages. I hope your family enjoys the rest of your summer! Please enjoy these audio recordings from our song workshop:
Thursday: This morning students learned about a few more parts of speech. They used interjections and conjunctions to write a short story with a partner. We also reviewed alliteration and onomatopoeia. Students wrote tongue twisters using allieration. They wrote words that sound like their meaning to describe sounds heard at a beach.
The student linguists studied several languages today. They learned how researchers determined the meanings of hieroglyphics. They learned the history of the Greek alphabet and used it to write their name. During our study of the Hawaiian language, they learned how important vowels are in writing and speaking. I also introduced the idea of code as a language. We discussed computer code as a language for programming. They used a reverse alphabet decoder to write a secret message for a classmate to decipher.
I’m really impressed with the learning I’ve watched this week. The students do a great job connecting new information to prior knowledge. Tomorrow this learning will be synthesized into some final activities. We will connect our study of the English language to the universal theme of systems. Students will also create their own language based on their linguistic journey through the history of written language. I look forward to one more exciting day of learning with this class!
Wednesday: Today we dug deeper into these parts of speech: adjectives, nouns, pronouns, adverbs, and verbs. We discussed how these elements fit into the larger system of language. Students used this knowledge to build sentences with a subject and predicate.
Our writing focus was poetry. I read some of Jack Prelutsky’s Scranimals poems and we looked at one of Shel Silverstein’s poems. Students learned about rhyme scheme and found patterns in poems. They used this knowledge to write a poem of their own. They chose between creating their own scranimal or writing a poem about a feeling/emotion.
We studied two ancient languages today: Chinese and Mayan. Students learned how symbols (logograms and glyphs respectively) are used to represent whole words or syllables. Students practiced drawing symbols from each language. They brought home their Sumerian clay tablets today. We will continue this study tomorrow with the incorporation of codes along with languages.
Thank you to everyone who brought books to share. The students did a wonderful job presenting and asked their peers great questions about the books shared. If your child still wants to share a book, they can bring one tomorrow or Friday.
Tuesday: We had another wonderful day in Witty Wordplay! Our guests returned for a continuation of the songwriting workshop. Students collaborated on another song. They learned about parts of a song and the process of determining the order for each section. You may want to ask your child what chorus, verse, and tag mean in reference to songwriting. I hope to be able to share audio recordings of both songs with you very soon!
Our study of ancient writing systems today touched on clay tokens used for commerce. Cuneiform symbols were developed soon after. Students learned about Mesopotamia and Sumerian clay tablets. We studied the progression of symbols from drawings to figures formed by lines and triangles. Students drew Cuneiform symbols in clay and made insightful observations about the challenges presented by this method. As soon as they clay is dry, they will bring the tablets home.
This afternoon I used picture books to guide lessons on adverbs, verbs, nouns, and adjectives. Students completed brief writing activities to practice using each type of word. I encourage you to review these terms at home using games or by discussing words as you read together. It may be fun to play “I Spy” with the rule that the noun spied can only be described using adjectives. In class we played verb charades where students selected a card with an adverb and a card with a verb and had to combine the two in their acting. This may be fun to try at home as well.
As a reminder, if your child wants to share a favorite book that contains wonderful words, they can bring it any day this week. We didn’t have time to share books today due to the guest speakers. Book sharing will begin tomorrow. Books will be sent home after they are shared. Thank you for all you are doing to support your child’s learning!
Monday: Welcome to Witty Wordplay!
We started the week with a songwriting workshop with special guests! We are fortunate to be joined by a Blair School of Music instructor and her songwriting husband. They taught the students the process of writing a song and putting it to music. They began by brainstorming topics and synthesizing ideas from different students into a theme for the song: today. Students used alliteration, rhyme, and internal rhyme to choose words for the song. I’m excited to watch the continuation of this process on Tuesday!
Today we discussed the earliest known written language (cave paintings, specifically) and will continue our study of various written language systems throughout the week. We also talked about our own journey with language, from listening to sounds and words as babies to learning how to read and write independently. On Beyond Zebra! challenged students to think of language and sounds creatively. Students learned about the small group learning centers they will visit throughout the week. These centers provide them the opportunity to “collect” new words using dictionaries, discover words from other languages, use letters and sounds to create a variety of words, write letters to their peers, and collaboratively write a creative story.
The universal theme connection for this unit is “language as a system.” Today students learned the generalizations about systems: they have parts, boundaries, inputs, outputs, and interactions. These generalizations will be referenced throughout the week as we discuss sentence structure, phonemic awareness, and various written languages. I used the example of a fishbowl as a system to make the abstract concept more concrete.
We had such a great first day! I look forward to a wonderful week of learning. Students are invited to bring in one favorite picture book to share with the class anytime this week. Please help them select a book with outstanding word choice that they enjoy reading. They will have time to share the book with the class and explain what makes the writing fun to read. Each child will have the option to read some or all (if it takes less than 10 minutes) of the book to the class (but they are not expected to). I am happy to read the book for them. We will only have time to read a few each day, so they will bring the book home on whichever day their name is drawn to share. Again, this is optional.