We had a pretty relaxed Language Arts day with Down Down the Mountain today. I just had a few snippets of lesson in mind.
There are two places where the book breaks into rhyme for a few lines, and then goes back to being prose. Alex noticed them on her own, and we talked about why the author might have included a section in rhyme. (Alex thought that maybe it was to show that Appalachian people like to sing and say poems. Maybe so.) We agreed that it makes the book more interesting to hear.
I also introduced onomatopoeia, one of the literary terms that FIAR is famous for teaching. I think it’s included solely because kids find it so fun to know about, because it is by no means a normal part of the K-3 curriculum. I have no illusions that Alex will remember the word, but we had fun saying it together several times and then finding examples in the story as we read.
Just for fun, I read her several short pieces from another book by this week’s author, Ellis Credle: Tall Tales From The High Hills. This is an old book filled with even older stories – they were collected, rather than written, by Credle when she lived in the mountains of North Carolina. Alex loved the ridiculous tall tales, and I think soaked up some additional details of mountain life in the process.
Finally, I had her trace and copy the title of this week’s book. Some of you may remember that handwriting has been a bit of a thing, and that I’ve been struggling for ways to address Alex’s perfectionism and resistance. I briefly tried, and then abandoned, having her write a tiny bit every day. Now we’re back to writing the book title once a week, but I am at least doing it consistently and not letting it drop.
I’ve also begun – I think it was Zelda’s suggestion – stopping Alex from correcting or criticizing imperfect letters by telling her “it’s okay for now.” I had previously allowed her to erase and rewrite, for example, a wobbly top to a capital T. Being able to correct her letter shapes just seemed to make her more upset, so for the past two weeks I’ve told her “that’s good enough for now – go on” unless the error made her copywork unreadable.
It may just be coincidence, but that does seems to be helping. Today she complained that her first n looked too much like an h, and I just told her that it was fine for now and that she was going to have more chances to try an n in today’s copywork. She went on without getting upset.
After she’d traced and copied the words “Down, down the mountain,” I asked her to show me the parts of her copywork she was particularly happy with. She picked out several letters and I admired them. Then I pointed out a few positive things I noticed: “Your letters are all sitting on the line and all the lower-case letters are about the same size. That makes your writing look really smooth.” We looked at last week’s copywork and agreed that she is improving.
She still says she hates writing, but we’re battling about it less and it seems less upsetting. I’m glad that, as homeschoolers, we have the ability to mostly set it aside so that it doesn’t infect her enjoyment of the rest of her work.