Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Etymology: Free Command Card Link

This week I have been on a search for the perfect etymological dictionary.  An etymological dictionary a recommended resource for any Montessori classroom, particularly at the  9-12 age. Etymology is yet another example of how Montessori students learn with many subjects interconnected.  They may encounter an interesting word during a botany or math work and then when they look at the etymology they are also exploring world history as well as maturing their spelling, vocabulary, and pronunciation.

Fortunately if you have right teacher you don't always have to attend a Montessori school or homeschool to learn in a fantastic way.  While on my dictionary search I stumbled across a blog post by Alycia Zimmerman, a a third grade gifted and talented classroom teacher in New York City:

Exploring Etymologies:  The Story of our Words by Alycia Zimmerman

What she did with her class looks a lot like the way my boys learn.  I encourage you to click over and read her blog post.  I was really inspired.  In fact, I started giving our language shelves a mini-makeover.

I don't think I've found a perfect etymological dictionary yet, but I've ordered the two books Alycia Zimmerman recommended:

In a Word: 750 Words and Their Fascinating Stories and Origins
Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms

We already have a good Merriam-Webster Children's Dictionary and Scholastic Children's Thesaurus  on our shelves.  I am adding the Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary.  (A dictionary, thesaurus, rhyming dictionary and etymological dictionary are all standard recommended supplies for an upper elementary Montessori classroom and are listed on the language supplies list in the KotU albums.)

I will be looking into the books that got Alycia Zimmerman's students so fired up about etymology:

Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster

Her students were also doing a lot of reading about Greek mythology which we already have covered.  We've just hit the Greeks in our SOTW work and the boys have been gobbling up all of the recommended literature.  I can't speak highly enough about all of the "additional literature" recommendations in the The Story of the World Activity Books.  The boys are devouring 10-15 history books a week thanks to those.

I think when I get this all put together it will be time to take out our Marie's Words and figure out how we are going to use those (Rotating display? In the box?  On a ring?  If you search for these on the internet you'll find a lot of blog posts with ideas.  I haven't decided yet.).  There is also a now an app for these!

And finally, we have some command cards.  Command cards are sometimes a solution that Montessori homeschooling families use to help with inspiring ideas for follow up work.  In a traditional Montessori classroom the child might have 20-30 classmates.  They observe their classmates doing many different projects and it gives them ideas, keeps them aware of their options, and inspires them to do work of their own.  Since it is just the three of us kicking around in here, command cards often are a partial substitute.  Ms. Zimmerman sent her students home with a list of 20 open-ended project ideas to choose from.  If you cut up a list of ideas or project starters, voila, you have command cards.  However, they weren't in the format that we typically use in our homeschool.  Many of you will just want the list and you can access that directly on Ms. Zimmerman's blog post.  I wound up reformatting the list into a "ETC-style" card format.  I cut and pasted the projects in, but they are in a larger font, have added images, and are labelled on the top right so that misplaced cards can find their way home.   I am sharing the link to my file below.  It is in Google Drive.

Link to Etymology command cards I formatted.  Again, these are Ms. Zimmerman's exact project ideas.  All I did was reformat them into the style that we would use on our shelves in our home.  All credit belongs to her.  They are for personal use.

The way Google Drive used to work, you could click on the link and immediately print from the page that comes up.  It seems that you now have to do some additional clicking and/or perhaps put the file in your own Google Drive.  I think it has something to do with the first page that comes up being some sort of "preview."  It will work, just experiment.


  1. You are so far ahead!!

    Thanks for putting together this material. I love the ETC card style...just like the style of my other cards!! :)

  2. As usual, very inspiring! I am on Amazon now, ordering this for us!

  3. Thanks for this the article is, where to think about introducing this into our sequence....

  4. Thanks for the helpful post. I have a child in year 3 of the elementary classroom and just got her the thesaurus and rhyming dictionary you recommended. However, I was so gung ho to get them and I am not sure how to implement them into our grammar work. I didn't see an exact post on how you did this. I noticed in the thesaurus that it is for 9 yrs. or older. My daughter just turns 8. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

  5. However, they weren't in the format that we typically use in our homeschool. Many of you will just want the list and you can access that directly on Ms. Zimmerman's blog post. I wound up reformatting the list into a "ETC-style" card format.
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