As we near the end of this official school year, we also near the end of some (but not all!) of our curriculum. I try to not think curriculum is the be-all and end-all of education, that it is a tool instead of a task-master. Still, I appreciate having someone hold my hand and tell me in which direction to go when I’m not sure myself. This is our second year with First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise, and it has been a mostly painless and delightful journey. Lulu now has tucked into her memory the definitions of noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition, interjection, and conjunction. She also knows the articles, and she can recite the lists of pronouns, prepositions, verbs (state of being, linking, and helping), and conjunctions. I’ve taught enough English classes to high school graduates to know that simply knowing the definitions isn’t enough to make one a writer (or even help him pick the parts of speech out of a sentence, unfortunately). However, I do believe that walking through this process with my children again and again, learning and loving the language together, will one day yield fruit. When I saw that one of the final lessons in FLL 2 was to identify the parts of speech of every word in the sentence, I knew we needed to do some prep work. Sure, we could’ve just gone over this material orally, and we did: the notebooking pages are simply Lulu’s copywork after she recited the definition orally and I wrote it on the white board. She then copied it on a notebooking page. I decided to get a little creative with the examples.
For nouns I made a minibook and divided it into common and proper and had her list examples of each kind of noun under the appropriate flap.
Verbs were divided into three categories, and Lulu wrote either examples (action) or the entire list of that type of verb.
For adjective and adverb, I simply printed out two pictures and affixed them to the appropriate page. The adjective page has a picture from a family birthday celebration, so I had her write adjectives to describe the kitchen.
The adverb page has a picture of some people running funnily, play(ing) happily, and walk(ing) fast.
Lulu memorized the long list of prepositions in FLL 2, so I made a minibook with the beginning letter of all the prepositions on the outside with tabs so she could write them on the inside.
Conjunctions are fun. This minibook was inspired by the School House Rock video, of course.
I had Lulu look through the comics section of the paper one day and find an example of an interjection.
I was uninspired for pronouns, so I just had her write the list she has memorized. 🙂
This is very elementary and crude, really, compared to something pre-made. However, I really see the value in something that she does herself. I don’t usually share much about the nitty-gritty of our homeschooling because there are so many bloggers who do it so much better than I. However, I do think that the way we do things matters, that not all educational activities and experiences are created equal. (This is certainly not to say that I’ve cornered that market on how to do it correctly. I certainly have a lot to learn, and I am so thankful for the mentors I’ve found among the homeschooling community.) Jimmie wrote a wonderful explanation of the difference between a notebooking page and a worksheet a while back, and I heartily second her opinion. This activity took many days, but it encompassed memory work, copywork, and the creation of mostly her own examples. I really think it helped cement the information in her brain. She was able to label the parts of speech of every word in a paragaph in a later lesson with far less assistance from me than ever before.
Notebooking is an excellent way for students to learn authentically. Is it always easy or quick? No, but it’s worth it.