Teaching Grammar using History and Science Texts
I have mentioned before what grammar topics we have been working on, such as nouns or verbs, but I haven't written much about how we are learning about them. During my planning time prior to the start of the start of a new school year, I jot down some English grammar and punctuation concepts I want them to learn (or review) the coming year.
Our lesson on common and proper nouns from our history study of Mesopotamia. These lists were later used to help them write their narrations.
Often I will have down the same part of speech for both of the younger boys, such as verbs, but I will take the concepts to a more complicated level for my 6th grader than for my 4th grader. For example, if the part of speech we are going to look at this week is verbs, I may go over with the both of them conjugating present, past and past participle verbs or singular and plural forms of verbs or the difference between helping and linking verbs. For James, I would also include irregular verbs and often misused verbs, or subject-verb agreement.
How do we do this?
Whatever concept we are going over for the day, we look for in our history and/or science texts. For example, for verb tenses, we would search for verbs in our history text, and then I would ask them to write down the present, past and future tenses of the verbs in columns. From the First City States section of The Ancient World, we found these verbs: swelled, flooded, trapping, irrigate, carry, covered, stayed and lived. We wrote them down in a list form and looked at them. We noted that most of the verbs were in their past tense form, which makes sense for a history text. I then made a chart for them to fill in, with the headings Present, Past and Past Participle. I then had them tell me the form of each of the verbs and put them in the proper column. Then they were to tell me the other forms for that verb, to complete the chart. For example, for the word swelled, they told me that this was the past form of the verb swell, and they filled it in under the past column. They then filled in swells under the present column and has swollen under the past participle column. They did this for each of the verbs.
You pick out a sentence or two (or more) from their history or science texts that illustrates the concepts you have been working on. Each week I usually have them working on one grammatical and one punctuation concept. For this piece, you will make sure that they correctly accomplish whatever grammatical or punctuation concepts you are working on. Do not work on everything at once, however tempting this may be. You can expect them to maintain any concepts you have been over in the previous lessons as well as the current concepts you are working on, but do not expect them to get them all every time. Sometimes there is a lot for them to remember all at once. If they consistently drop a past concept, I know we need to review this again.
For any of these, prior to their beginning to write, I remind them of the grammatical concept that we have been working on. For example, I might say, be sure to have strong verbs in their right tenses and not just to-be verbs.
This is how we accomplish our English studies without ever using a grammar worksheet that would just get thrown away at the end of the year. These lessons are something they are proud of as they can see concrete evidence of learning and how their writing has improved as the year goes on.
Sickness has descended on our family this week, so not a lot of school work was accomplished.
Alex learned about Rwanda and Burundi, finishing his study of East Africa. He learned that in Rwanda cow dung art is used for wall decorations. We had seen some paper made from cow dung at the gift show at the Maryland Zoo last week.
Ancient HistoryWe looked at the rise of Babylon, after the fall of Ur by the Amorites. We learned about Hammurabi and his laws. We also learned about how the Hittites, the Kassites and then the Elamites took over ruling Babylon. All of these rulers adopted the Babylonian culture as their own, so the culture did not change under these new rulers. They all used the Sumerian cuneiform script as well. We read about Joseph being sold into slavery.
Base 6/60 Math
We learned about how the Sumerian and Akkadian civilizations used a base 60 mathematical system, rather than the base 10 system we are used to, but the system used ten as a sub-base, in the sense that it did not use 60 distinct symbols for its digits. They divided the day into 24 hours, each hour into 60 minutes, each minute into 60 seconds. This was inherited by the Babylonians, who added a positional system to the base 60 in which the value of a particular digit depends both on the digit itself and its position within the number. Because there was no symbol for zero in Sumerian or early Babylonian numbering systems, it is not always immediately obvious how a number should be interpreted, and its true value must sometimes have been determined by its context. The base 60 system is also used in measuring angles, there are 360 in a circle. There are 60 minutes of arc in a degree, and 60 arcseconds in a minute. I brought to their attention that we are using the terms minutes and seconds in both time and geometry.
GeometryWe reviewed area, as a measure of the surface of an object. Area is the number of square units that will fit inside a flat figure. We talked about times in which figuring this out would be useful, such as measuring a wall in order to buy the right amount of paint or a floor for carpeting. We transferred this concept to measuring the amount of wrapping paper needed to wrap a box. We learned the formula for finding the area of a rectangle or square, base x height.We learned the formula for finding the area of a triangle, base x height divided by 2, and looked at why this was so.
We have had lots of opportunities to continue our relationship-building, that has become our priority as of late.
Katie got a chance to try out her new skates, during the monthly homeschool skating. Quentin said he had lots of fun too, as he is beginning to be able to stay away from the wall most of the time.
On Tuesday, we met some friends at the park to have lunch and play.
On Wednesday, our co-op had a pizza party to celebrate the last classes of the first session. In drama class, they presented skits that they had written. I gave them the beginning and ending lines, and they had to write 6-8 lines in between. I was pleased and impressed by their skits. In art class, they began a chalk pastel of a swan on a lake, which is quite a challenging piece.
Steven took Katie, James and Quentin to Turner's Creek Fall Festival, where they looked at the Kent Farm Museum...
enjoyed the Scales and Tails display.
and the displays of Hands-On Farm Equipment.
They also made scarecrows.
In the Kitchen
Vegetarian Crockpot Lasagna from the Red Barn Candle Company was delicious,
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