Three Names doesn’t exactly have a plot – it’s more a rambling series of episodes strung together – but one of the more dramatic elements is a prairie tornado. Yesterday Michael and Alex explored the topic of tornadoes together.
The Maryland Science Center has a cool tornado apparatus in their TerraLink exhibit where you can watch tornadoes made of water vapor form, dissipate, and reform. So they played with that for a while, and then went across to the physics gallery to play with the water vortex there, for comparison.
They also watched some tornado videos on YouTube, which is a surprisingly useful homeschooling resource.
This morning we carried right on with the tornado theme with a book called One Lucky Girl, in which a sleeping baby is carried away by a tornado, crib and all, and is set down again unharmed. We talked about the strange things that tornadoes sometimes do. The book, which Colin chose randomly from the Five in a Row bin, proved to be a great segue to the Language Arts lesson I wanted to teach on similes. The short text is packed with them, much more densely than Three Names is.
So we talked about what similes are and I showed her examples in One Lucky Girl, and then she identified similes in Three Names as I read the book. We stopped to discuss a few thorny cases: is “the blue blanket sky” a simile? (No, it’s a metaphor.) If similes say something is like something else, is it a simile to say “the schoolroom smelled like baked potatoes and butter?” (No, because it literally did. Similes are comparisons.)
Afterward I asked Alex to come up with some similes of her own. I provided the prompts and she provided the similes. I am particularly pleased with the last one; she initially offered “as silly as a clown” and I asked her if she could describe something particularly silly about the clown. Mission accomplished.
The giant was as big as an eight-story-high house.
The snow was as white as clouds.
Colin was so wild, he was like a tornado tearing up the house.
Colin was as silly as a clown pouring water on a wildebeest.
I also asked Alex to trace and copy the words Three Names. We have fallen badly out of the habit of doing any handwriting practice at all, and it showed. She struggled to get her letters looking the way she wanted them, and the size of her lower-case letters varied dramatically.
I’m afraid we have a vicious cycle going with writing: she hates it and complains like crazy, so it’s easy for me to drop it, so she doesn’t get any better at it, so she hates it and complains like crazy. We need to do something different. I’m thinking that I might have her write a “word of the day” every single day. Paradoxically, it seems to work better to always do a disliked thing, rather than to do it occasionally.