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Tonight as we drove home from an extended family Christmas gathering, reading aloud and singing, I was reminded of an old article I wrote for our newsletter several years ago—Christmas in the Car. I will post it in its entirety below—gotta sneak in those family times any chance we get as our kids get older!
Merry Christmas from Language Lady and Character Ink Press! It is the time of good cheer, festivities, magical moments with children, celebrating the Nativity–AND grammar errors galore! Usage errors are to be expected since many of the things we are writing this time of year are things we only write once a year. It’s hard to remember grammar and usage protocols that we use daily, much less ones that we only use yearly. I hope this post will clear many of your Christmas grammar issues up!
“Linus’ reading of the story of the Nativity was, quite simply, the dramatic highlight of the season.” Harriet Van Horne in the “New York World Telegram” December 1965
Every year our family enjoys reading about Christmas traditions and songs—how they began, what they mean, etc. One of my favorite readings is the story of how “A Charlie Brown Christmas” came about—and continues to bless people today. Read my “story behind the Charlie Brown Christmas” below aloud to your family—then watch the movie (or at least check out the given links from youtube). Have fun!
On Thursday, December 9, 1965 (nearly fifty years ago!), “A Charlie Brown Christmas” made its debut on CBS on television screens all over the United States. Surprising the network executives, this darling Christmas story was an immediate hit. It seems that its creator, Charles Schulz, battled with the powers-that-be at the network concerning the show’s religious content (CBS thought it was too religious) and the kids’ voices (citing that they should be professional actors, not children). Additionally, they felt that Vince Guaraldi’s theme music was too modern for kids’ tastes. (The jazz soundtrack has, by the way, become a classic.)
Rumor has it that through the years it has been suggested that Linus’ reading of the Christmas story from Luke be taken out of the movie. However, forty-five years later, this classic still contains that powerful passage from Luke, those sweet child voices, and that catchy music*—and each year the true story of Jesus’ birth and the reason for the season—is proclaimed via the secular media.
Another favorite Thanksgiving book! While we listen to and read audios about the first Thanksgiving (an Odyssey one is playing right now as I write this!), I am one who loves whimsical, funny, clever stories, including Thanksgiving ones. That is why I love the book described below. It is incredibly creative and clever—and catches kids (and adults) off guard when Mrs. Moose simply wants to invite Turkey to lunch—not eat him for lunch!
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what
you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
Many years ago when we had seven children fourteen and under, we decided that we wanted our children and our family to be blessings to others—not burdens. We knew that bringing seven kids into situations can seem overwhelming to hosts. We wanted people to look forward to our family coming—not dread seeing our big thirteen passenger van pull in the drive-way! We decided that when we went to a get-together, as Christians, we should be energy-givers, not energy-zappers!
We knew that going to a family get together of any kind, but especially any with non-Christians, and trying to “show” people our Christianity by our standards wouldn’t work. Non-Christians do not care about your standards—they do not worry about what you are wearing, what you are not watching, and other outward signs that we often think are important (and they might be, but they seldom show our faith as much as we think they do). What non-Christians care about is how they are treated (which is what everybody cares about, really!).
1. Use three key words to introduce sentence types. Sometimes just shortening longer words to their base can make them easier for students to grasp. I like to use the punctuation marks as part of the key word teaching in phrases like these:
a) Declarative–You DECLARE something. Just stating something.
b) Interrogative—Are you a suspect in an INTERROGATION room getting questioned?
c) Exclamatory—You EXCLAIM something in loud words with an exclamation point!
Most second graders learn about three types of sentences—the declarative, interrogative, and exclamatory. Children do not have a lot of trouble with the three types of sentences—it is relatively easy to discover the difference between a statement (or declarative sentence) and a question (or interrogative sentence), etc.
Again, the problem most writers (of all ages) have is not determining what the ending punctuation should be for a sentence or determining if a sentence should begin with a capital letter or not. The real difficulty lies in determining whether a group of words is a sentence or not a sentence. We will examine that more closely as the next month progresses.
One of the best ways you can help a child become good in language arts (which carries over to all of his school work–since all school work involves reading, comprehending, organizing, etc.) is to help him become a good reader.
Over the past month, I have focused on teaching reading, reading aloud, reading instruction, phonics, and more.
It has been said that when a banker or a counterfeit money “agent” learns about counterfeit money, he or she begins by learning what the real thing looks like.
I use this same approach to teach about sentences, clauses, and phrases in my language arts and writing books (Character Quality Language Arts and Meaningful Composition): teach the students what a real sentence looks like—and then teach what are not real sentences.
I teach what a sentence contains using a simple acronym: CAVES
Tips for Using Word Cards in Reading Instruction
1) Don’t use word cards with words the student has never encountered. Word cards are for practicing words used in instruction, not for long lists of words never encountered before.