Thursday, March 18, 2010

More Nonfiction With Ben

Yesterday we had the greatest time at Zilker Park...yes, I know, we have been here almost three months and hadn't gone yet - shame on me. It was a gorgeous day and the boys enjoyed the enormous play area, the acres of green grass, and they even learned to skip rocks in the river! We will be heading there often, you better believe it. Matt couldn't believe he actually lived in a place that was so pretty, and "without alligators!" a California native, it seemed strange to hear my eldest be such a Texan.

Anyhow, to the reading.

Ben and I sat down and focused on captions yesterday. Before we did, I quickly asked him what he remembered about what we had learned before. He remembered headings, and knew what subheadings meant, but couldn't remember the term. So I reminded him about the "sub"marine and how it is a ship that goes "under" the sea. He remembered immediately, but got sidetracked by how I made that connection - which opened up a conversation about prefixes and root words. I didn't go too deeply on the grammatical aspects (his teachers can do that) but I showed him how "fun" words are because you can figure them out using the meanings of the little letters in front and the base "hidden" word. I showed him by writing some other words...Preschool, unhappy, preview, he was interested.

After that, we talked about the page he was reading today in his "Exploring Space" book. I began by asking him if he knew what the words below the pictures were about. He knew they said something about what the pages were about, but he didn't connect them with the illustrations. So I said, "You are such a great reader to know that already! Do you know why I LOVE these words? Because they are called captions, and they explain to me what the picture right above it or near it is all about!" He smiled. "Ohh. I get it!"

I went on to say that sometimes I can look at a picture and think I get it, but when I actually read the words in the caption, it gives me special information I wouldn't have guessed at all.

He pointed out that most of the captions had smaller size, and were "whiter" than the other words (in other words, they used a different font, bolded it, and made it smaller -- the background page is black for the night sky). "YES!" I exclaimed, "that is exactly right."

Instead of just leaving it at that, I told him that we need to "prove" we were fight by looking at other pages in the book about our theory. Sure enough, we were "right." He was so excited.

Next, I grabbed the newspaper (which I was doing the crossword) and we decided to see if that was true in that form of nonfiction. Sure enough, it was, although a little different than his book.

So on it goes, the process of DISCOVERING the magic of reading. Now he knows another aspect of nonfiction and how it works so he can better understand it, easily read it, and more than anything, enjoy it.

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