More and more, I discover children who don't know their parts of speech or the relationships between words in writing. Many children can recite the definitions of the parts of speech and maybe even recognize them in isolation, but relating them to writing seems less obvious.Those of you who know me understand that I don't like to teach children skills just for the sake of teaching. I am all about the "why" do we need to teach or learn this? As a writing teacher, it's apparent to me that a full understanding of how words relate to one another creates a stronger writer.
I came across a picture book this week that is ideal for teaching the relationship between nouns and adjectives. It's simple enough that you could use it for a younger child and fun enough to use with an older elementary student. Who knows? I might use it in my high school classes. :) I have used Dr. Seuss books in high school history and literature!
The book, The Woods, reflects a boy's imagination at bedtime. The adjectives are obvious enough that even younger readers can recognize them. They're so vital to the story that the value of adjectives in our language becomes a lesson in itself.
I used this book with one of my tutoring students. Using a simple chart I created, we pulled out the main nouns (bear, giant, cave, etc.). Then we went back through the book to find the adjectives that described each of the nouns. One wonderful aspect of this book is that there are several adjectives for each of the main nouns and the adjectives stand out in large and decorative fonts. Although a couple of the adjectives are repetitive, such as scary, we took the opportunity to discuss other words that we could use in place of the repeated adjectives. So, we dipped into synonyms while studying adjectives! Another way to use this book to teach about adjectives is to reread the story without any of the adjectives. Almost immediately, you realize why we write with adjectives.
The imagination of the main character appeals to many children and in the end, all of the scary creatures go to bed. The scariest character expresses how lonely he is and how he doesn't want to sleep alone in the cave. It provides a sweet story that is not commonly found in modern children's books.
Obviously, you can use any book to teach adjectives, but this book seems to be designed for just that job! If you'd like me to email you the chart I designed, just comment on this blog and make sure I have an email address for you. If you do use The Woods to teach your child adjectives or if you have another book that has worked for you, please share!