Friday, November 27, 2015

Heroes in Training

Two of my boys loved reading about the Greek gods and goddesses last year. The Lightening Thief was the Read Aloud in one of their classrooms, and my then-fourth grader read through the entire first 5 books by Rick Riordan. I purchased Percy Jackson's Greek Gods which we are just now reading aloud together, and I am now becoming familiar with the early stories. I need to find out this book on tape! I just outed myself as a middle-aged woman with that term, but I'll admit that I have no idea how to download a book on my IPHONE. Yes! I have an IPHONE. I just don't know how to use most of what it can do :(

My third grader's teacher chose Heroes in Training: Zeus and the Thuderbolt of Doom for his reading group and asked if I could produce some grammar worksheets to go along with it. I always draw the grammar from the story, so after a thorough reading, I saw the opportunity to review the simple present tense, the simple past tense with irregular and regular verbs and through those tenses, highlight simple predicates and compound predicates. I've done this with other stories and though it might seem "ESL-ish" to a regular elementary school teacher, it works. The terms are just different. Base form versus infinitive. Infinitives are the "to" form of the verb, and it's important to know all those terms because if you have English language learners in your class, they will see terms like "gerund" and "infinitive" in their textbooks. Certain verbs and verb expressions are followed by either a gerund or infinitive and others require one or the other. Consider the verb to like.

I like to swim. (infinitive)

I like swimming. (gerund)

The meaning doesn't change.

After pouring over the story for its verbs and finding those with CVC patterns with consonants that needed to be doubled in the simple past and verbs ending in -y which needed changing to -ie, I noticed that when Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi speaks in the beginning, there was an opportunity to introduce the verb to be. An oddball as my littlest calls it. Why? The verb to be doesn't follow the typical spelling patterns in the past tense (or the present). I am/was, you are/were, he, she, it is/was . . . . . .

Zeus keeps hearing "You are the one."

Pythia begins the story, "I am the Oracle of Delphi."

Therein, a good opportunity to review those very irregular forms.

I took the opportunity with all of the verb review to touch on adverbs. I highlighted only those that ended in -ly to simplify things since the review is geared for second and third grade. And I created a review of singular and possessive noun forms. The authors consistently use the 's after proper nouns ending in -s. Zeus's thunderbolt, King Cronus's belly. And there are several nice examples in the authentic text of plural noun forms and opportunities to review ones which I derived from the story itself.

And then there is the fact that King Cronus is the "baddest . . . " Well, just like with Ramona the Pest, I teased that out for students and reviewed comparatives and superlatives with various spelling patterns.

This book is the first in a series of 15 books which the authors wrote to retell the stories at a third-grade level. The story is full of expressions which need to be explained but provide a great opportunity for exploring language. The back and forth in time also requires explaining but the content will hopefully engage students enough to hold their interest. And who knows? Maybe your child will read through the entire series! I've got the collection on Santa's list this year for Matthew.

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