My last few posts have been a bit heavy. From ultimate school commuting with Mrs. Mendeleev to the discussion of suffering and the beautiful ending to stories, we've covered some weighty stuff, so let's lighten this up and switch gears.
Learning new words can be a chore when the task is formalized by an academic assignment, but when they are discovered in their native territory, written and spoken language, learning words can be fun. My son has a extensive vocabulary for someone going into the sixth grade and people sometimes comment on his knowledge of words. They assume I've been busy teaching him or we learn it from the literature we listen to, but if I'm being candid here, he's learned a ton of words from Phineas and Ferb. He tells people he is an Anglophile (someone who loves all things English) and points out the aglet on people's shoelaces. Both of these words were the centers of P&F episodes. We laugh about these words and talk about them and soon after they enter our everyday language.
One of the things on our summer bucket list was to read Something BIG Has Been Here by Jack Prelutsky with drawings by James Stevenson. If you aren't yet familiar with Jack Prelutsky's poetry you need to familiarize yourself with it immediately. His poetry is published in books about the length of Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends or A Light in the Attic, but Prelutsky's work is more lighthearted. He is silly and writes in nonsense much the way Edward Lear wrote his Nonsense Poetry. The poems are light-hearted, fun, and silly, but they contain some pretty high-level vocabulary.
Nonsense is good. Nonsense is great. Especially when you are tired and just want a laugh. It's a way to intellectually stimulate your brain without being intellectual. For sake of copyright, I cannot write out any of Prelutsky's poetry, but Edward Lear wrote a very long time ago so his work is now public domain. Here's an example of Lear's work.
Isn't that delightfully nonsensical? Yes, yes, I know it is stupid and doesn't make sense, which is why Mr. Lear titled it Nonsense Poetry. If his title was "Romantic Poetry" we could be confused together, but he made his intention clear. But even this silly limerick can be a great teaching tool. First, geography -- Where is Hong Kong? Second, pronouncing the words. Rhyme and repetition can build confidence and increase comprehension. Third, do you see that fabulous word in there? Innocuous -- not harmful or offensive. Bonus -- why is he laying with his head in a bag? (Remember, keep it silly.)
Note: There are some limericks in Lear's collection that could cause offense because of underdeveloped racial acceptance during his time period. I would recommend reading ahead and only reading the ones that are appropriate with your child or class.
Although I love Lear, I chose today's word from our summer book, Something BIG Has Been Here. Possible options of fun words we read in this collection were as follows:
Today's Word: Disputatious
Four syllables. Pronounced dis-pyoo-tey-shuh s. Adjective. Defined in the OAD as fond of having arguments. The poem is titled "The Disputatious Deeble" and is about the Disputatious Deeble who argues about everything. If you say, "It's freezing!" he says, "It's far too hot!" The illustration shows a very disgruntled old man with his arms crossed. After reading the title of the poem and realizing I didn't know what disputatious meant we googled it on my smart phone, heard the pronunciation, read the definition, and went back to read the poem. We cracked up because Logan has a bit of the Disputatious Deeble in him sometimes. Later in the day he was contradicting me and when I started to get upset he pointed out that he just realized that he was being disputatious. The moment calmed and we both laughed. In this case, a vocabulary word has helped a mother and son relate and take a step back in a heated moment.
So that's it for today. Enjoy your Wednesday and look for wonder words everywhere.
I can't not share this poem. It is ludicrous. I love it. Maybe next time I'm disgusted with life I'll try a ballad and a salad too.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."