Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Word Study: Suffixes, Charts

I really like the suffix key experience from the Cultivating Dharma language album.  You need a motorized or wind-up tractor or train engine to do this as well as some kind of trailer that can attach behind.  You show that the engine can move on its own but the trailer cannot.  However, once attached to the engine the trailer can go places. 

Next, I showed the boys the word study chart area.  I put this up months ago, so you may have seen it in the background of photos.  This is, however, the first time we've used it.  This is simply a collection of about eight different charts, laminated, hole punched, and hung on a nail.  My charts are free printables included through Keys of the Universe.  I actually don't know of anyplace to get them for free.  Whatever albums you are using should either provide a picture, list,  or a printable page.

I invited Me Too and Kal-El to each read a row of words from the chart and build them with the movable alphabet.  These charts are secretly spelling and memorization work.  For this reason, the charts don't leave the place where they hang on the wall.  The child has to go back and forth to read/check his work.

First the words were built using the black movable alphabet.

Then I asked if the boys could find their first word hidden anywhere in their second or third words.  We left this word, the root word, in black and changed the letters of the suffixes to red.  You can see we ran out of "c's."  In the CD album he shows two sets of words all out in black and I see about 10 "o's" in use at once.  I don't know where he found a movable alphabet that has ten of each letter.  Either choose your words carefully when doing this activity with more than one child or plan to fill in with paper (Or use a small, printed movable alphabet in the first place.  I don't like them so I'm stubbornly hanging on here with these.)

I separated the suffixes and asked the boys if those letters meant anything on their own.  They didn't, with the exception of "or" which we dealt with.  I said that those letters are called "suffixes" and just like the train trailer, they have no power on their own.  However, once attached to the root word (engine) they make powerful words.  We discussed the etymology of the word.  Then, the boys put the letters away so they could build a couple more rows off the chart.  Train them to find all of one letter at a time so that they can put them all in their compartment at once.  This speeds up the clean-up process which will deter them from doing the work if it takes too long.

In future days they will build more and more rows from the chart with the movable alphabet, at least Me Too will.  Kal-El might go straight to the next step which is recording the rows on paper with colored pencils (he finds the movable alphabet tedious, even with efficient clean-up).

The word study charts are traditionally decorated in some way. The purpose of this is to encourage the children to decorate their own classroom work thereby providing yet another opportunity for beauty and artistic expression in the classroom.  I don't know if I would go so far as to call it "artistic expression" (I was more concerned with finishing the project than expressing myself at the time) but I thought I would share my illustrations.  The reason is that I tried to draw very "boyish" illustrations.  Not that both genders can't find flowers and bows beautiful, but I can't think of an online example I've seen of these that was not done with very girly illustrations.

At first I tried to stick with the "nature" theme I had see, but less flowery.  So first we have pine cones and pine branches.

Then, the beach.

Then I started to have a little more fun and the results are better.  I'm pretty happy with how these little guys sledding turned out.

The streams of ants on this insect-themed chart were fun and easy to draw.

Our family is really into bikes, so I finished with a unicycle, penny farthing, and bicycle.

Anyway, I'm sure all of you can do a better job with these than I did.  I wanted to share to help break you out of the "flowers and vines" box if you needed help.

One final note:  It seems that the Cultivating Dharma albums have disappeared from their webpage.  There is just a blank space where they used to be.  If you are interested in those albums I would recommend contacting the blog author.  I suspect that the file hosting site he uses might have had an arbitrary expiration date or something.
Montessori Monday


  1. (since this is typed - I should preface by saying - this is ENTIRELY tongue-in-cheek with an evil glint in my eyes ;) )

    Hahaha! I was going to comment to "use the small movable alphabet" - then I saw the word "stubbornly", so I won't say "use the small movable alphabet" even though it's meant for just these situations where lots and lots of one letter (or more) are needed.

    And I won't say that the paper with the c on it looks like something from the small movable alphabet either.

    So no comment from me ;)

    Oh wait! I do have a comment! Your drawings are BEAUTIFUL! AND you've provided a VERY good reason to not offer these charts pre-illustrated --- so that each family can design them for themselves (the main reason being to have obviously hand-done drawings to encourage art/embellishment in the children's work)


  2. Ha! Yes, I am in love with the wooden moveable alphabet too. It is so beautiful. I use them every chance I get. I love when you use words like "etymology" so casually. Maybe after I have have got past Primary I will be throwing such words around as well. Probably you are like my book loving husband and just absorb these words like a sponge as you read. My brain takes much more effort to retain. ;) Love you art too!

  3. Coming back to this - I still love the drawings on these charts!!!