So for language arts today, a wonderful enlightened mini lesson idea popped into my head as I was whisking the milk into a can of Campbell’s broccoli cheese soup on the stove. Who knew Campbell’s could be so inspiring?
I’m calling the lesson Boring and Beautiful sentences. I thought it needed a name since I’m writing about it.
I had decided that today would be a “write a paragraph” lesson day. But that’s way boring as a lesson idea. So as I stirred the milk into that soup concentrate, I told my daughter we could do little warm up for writing. We’d make up a boring sentence like “The horse walked down the road,” and we’d turn it into a beautiful sentence, by painting a picture with words for each other. That boring sentence would give more details when we added some colorful adjectives and adverbs (I didn’t get into those particulars with her, just to make it all seem more artsy and not so teachy – waiting till later to mention parts of speech). For example: The dapple gray mare strode gently down the hay lined alley way. She actually said, “That sounds like FUN!” Bestill my heart.
So we talked through a couple boring/beautiful sentence transformations while the soup came to a simmer and then, as she sipped her bowl of steaming goodness, I wrote out three boring sentences on notebook paper, leaving 4 lines for her to write her beautiful versions. Here they are:
My dog ate his food – became – My gorgeous husky munched on his puppy chow.
(I helped with spelling when she asked for it since she likes to be correct, and the idea was to get the creativity flowing, not be frustrated and get stuck trying to spell.)
Her hair was tangled – became – Her curly blond hair was a tiny Bit tangly!
(Gave me an opportunity to explain how to use commas between two adjectives, and edit out that capital B).
Karen sang the song – became – Karen sang the beautiful song in her lullaby voice.
(Mentioned that she could add “sweet” before lullaby voice for added effect. She added that Karen was a good mom.)
Then I told her she could write some boring sentences for me to make more beautiful – and like any kid she gave me three times as much work as I gave her – nine sentences! Guess she thought I needed some busy work. I completed my task and let her read through my sentences. She gave me a “You did a great job mom!” So I passed one nine-year-old critique for today – yeehaw!
Then she got some free writing time to write a paragraph on any topic she chose, so long as she used beautiful sentences in her writing. She’s working on that part as I write this, so we’ll see how the resulting paragraph (or story if she gets on a roll) turns out. I believe the wheels of creative writing were well oiled by our little mini lesson on painting pictures with words. Finally, I’ll talk with her about adjectives and adverbs so she can identify them in each of our beautiful sentences and highlight adjectives in one color and adverbs in another. (Her choice of colors. The girl likes independence, art, color, markers, so I figure tapping into all that might help cement the parts of speech into her brain. It can’t hurt.) And Voila! There you have it – a creative writing and grammar lesson all rolled into one! I guess my muse is soup.
Any other teachers or parents who have great learning ideas to share? Please post ’em. I love hearing the ideas of others so I can use them too!