Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sonlight Language Arts: Picture Book Narration

This week we started Sonlight's Kindergarten Language Arts program with both Marcus and Sophie.   If you have ever checked out Sonlight's language arts programs in the past, you might want to check them out again.  They have recently completely revised and updated their programs.  The changes are major...and I personally think the changes are for the better.

Sonlight's Language Arts K with Readers Package
Even though both kids are at slightly different levels in reading and writing, their skill levels are close enough that I am able to combine them with only some slight modifications to the program.     (Not to mention...Sophie tends to get very upset if she is not included in what Marcus is learning!  So it is just easier on everyone to let them work together.)

Handwriting Without Tears Package
The reading portion of Sonlight's language arts package is right on target for Sophie.  However, she still lacks the fine motor control to write "small enough" for the kindergarten level paper used in the Handwriting Without Tears package.  She has also already completed the Handwriting Without Tears Pre-K she is kind of in handwriting limbo at the moment.   (Handwriting without tears has a "strange" name...but it is one of the best handwriting programs out there in my oppinion!)   So-- an easy modification we made was to let her practice writing her lower case letters on the double-line slate instead of the workbook.   

Marcus, on the other hand,  is a bit ahead of this program when it comes to reading.  However, I think that the extra practice in phonics will only help cement the ideas for him.  It will also give him some confidence when it comes to reading.  Every now and then,  we are allowing him to practice reading some other beginner readers.  He also enjoys playing Reading Eggs online.  (I'm not much for screen based learning...but I find that this game provides invaluable, fun practice which is helping him build reading fluency.  So he doesn't have to "sound out" every word that he sees on the page.)

The thing I really like about Sonlight the most is their "creative expression" assignments.  The purpose of the creative expression assignments is " help your children learn to enjoy expressing their thoughts, as well as to get a good feel for the flow of a story."  Basically the assignments give children a chance to practice verbally expressing their thoughts effectively.  In most of these assignments, the parent acts as the scribe and the child tells the parent what to write.  I think that learning to TELL a story is a very important step in learning to effectively WRITE a story.  I think that many language arts programs tend to forget this.  We can easily get so caught up in the mechanics of language:  handwriting, reading, grammar, etc. etc---that we forget to spend time on the thought process that goes into communicating our thoughts in writing.

Today's "Creative Expression" assignment was a picture book narration.  In this assignment, the children were to retell a favorite story while using one of their favorite pictures books as a guide.  I allowed the kids to chose any book on our bookshelves to retell...and they BOTH picked the book Kat Kong by Dav Pilkey to narrate.  

NOW---some of my readers might argue that Kat Kong is simply twaddle.  :)  HOWEVER-- the kids and I both enjoy reading this book.  No, it isn't Beautix Potter...but it is a funny book that is rather well written.  As you can probably guess, the book is a cleaver play on the old "King Kong" movies--this time staring a chubby feline who wreaks havoc on a group of mice.   Marcus and Sophie both narrated this book to my while I typed in their work into the computer.

It was an interesting experiment having two separate kids narrate the same book to me.  I did this individually so that each would have a chance to really recall the details they remembered from the story on their own.  I was impressed with how much detail both kids remembered from the book.  Marcus, in particular has a mind like a steel trap!  You read him something once, and he just remembers it.  He easily recalled large portions of the text almost verbatim as he "retold" the story.  (I don't think he quite understands the concept of using his own words to tell a story.)   I was also impressed with some of the vocabulary he used to tell the story.  Both kids attempted to use dialog to retell the story.  I was pleasantly surprised that both kids automatically knew to add words indicating WHO was saying the dialog during their narration without prompting from me.   (Example from Sophie's narration:  “There is no way Kat Kong can escape.  I repeat back there is no way Kat Kong can escape, “ said Vincent Varmint.)     However, in some cases, Sophie separated the dialog by doing different voices for the characters.  (It was pretty cute!  I wish I would have thought to video tape it.)   Both kids had some typical age appropriate grammatical errors...which were also pretty darling.  (Example:  Marcus still refers to a group of mice by calling them "mouses".)    All in all, I was very pleased with the outcome of this assignment.  I think at the very least,  these assignments will make a VERY nice keep sake for me hold on.  

SO---without further is each child's Kat Kong Picture narration with me acting as scribe.  


Picture Book Narration
Marcus Holmes
Age 5.5
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kat Kong by Dav Pilkey Naration

Dr. Varmint and Rosie Rodent and Captain Charles Limburger approach a strange island.  The ship approaches the island and then some mouses make a weird chant.  They say, “Here Kitty, Kitty, Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!”

Suddenly, there is a CRASHING in the island:  Kat Kong, the most terrifying creature to mouse-kind!  Suddenly the terrifying creature trips over their tuna and then falls down. 

“Lets take the creature back with us,” said Vincent Varmint. 
“Oh no, it would be bad to take him back from his natural habitat.” said Rosie Rodent.
“Forget about science,” said Doctor Varmint.  “Think of the money we could get.”

They tie him up in a bag and they be careful not to let him out of the bag. 

“This is Kat Kong the most terrifying creature to mouse-kind!” 
The mouses hurled back being afraid. 
“I repeat people this cat can not escape from these chains.  This cat can not escape from these chains.  OH!  I guess I could be wrong.”

Suddenly, the terrifying Kat Kong jumps out and escapes from the chains. 

“Help!  That cat's got my train!”
“Help!  That cat's got my tongue!”
“Help!  That cat’s got me!”

Suddenly the terrifying Kat Kong climbs up with Rosie Rodent following behind. 

“I think I shouldn’t have got so near,” said Rosie Rodent. 

It feels like nothing could stop the terrifying Kat Kong! 

Suddenly a helicopter soars through the air.  And then,  “Hey cat, can you guess what’s in this package?”

The mouse flew over.  And the cat’s mind was thinking and thinking and thinking and growing higher when at last he could not think any longer.  And with a swift paw, he swiped for the package.  And then he lost his balance and FELL down.  Everyone came to get a look at the terrifying Kat Kong. 

“Well, it looks like love killed the beast.” Said the police officer buster. 
“No,” said Dr. Varmint.  “Curiosity killed the beast.” 



Picture Book Narration
Sophie Holmes
Age 4
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kat Kong by Dav Pilkey

Three mice were in a boat.  The mice went to that cave. 

The mice found tuna.  Then Kat Kong came.  The mice ran. 

Kat Kong slipped.  The mice took Kat Kong and put him in a sack. 

The mouse took Kat Kong and put him in metal.

“There is no way Kat Kong can escape.  I repeat back there is no way Kat Kong can escape, “ said Vincent Varmint.   And Kat Kong escaped and…

“AAAHHHH!  Kat Kong got my train!”

“AAAAHHHH!  Kat Kong got me!”

The mice got their airplanes and tried to defeat him.  Vincent Varmint came. 
“You won’t guess what’s in this box.” 

Then Kat Kong swooped his paw and lost his balance. 

Then he fell and rocks came out. 

“Curiosity killed the cat.”

The End

A group of "native mice" offering up a can of sacrificial tuna to Kat Kong

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Jen Witt said...

We LOVE Sonlight and just finished up the K program- Landon really enjoyed the LA readers!! Hope your kiddos have a good year with the K curriculum :-)

Nichole said...

We are just finishing Sonlight P3/4 and loved it!

Luke Holzmann said...

Recreating a good story--even if it's mostly repeating back what's already there--was a very formative part of my early writing/creative expression. I think that's partly why artists like Weird Al are so close to my heart (and crack me up so much): They are brilliant at taking the good of something and making it better and their own. Very fun.

I very much enjoyed the stories [smile].


Natalie F said...

This is a great exercise. I tried it with my daughter, but she talks way faster than I can type. She also remembers large portions and retells them word by word.

Lisa said...

I will have to look into their Language Arts program. We used their History for the first time this past year and LOVED it! :-) Will you be doing a blog roll again this year? Have a great weekend. Many blessings, Lisa

Glenda Whitehead said...

I was googling to see if there was a Sonlight Blog Roll and ended up here. Will there be a new one for 2012-2013?


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