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Grammar activity “Pond Circle”

Currently we’ve been working on our first grammar lessons. Naturally, we’re seeing grammar patterns everywhere. We recently came across a picture book full of great examples of adjectives and verbs – titled “Pond Circle” by Betsy Franco. The book has beautiful illustrations and written in blank verse unveiling the scene of a pond outside a girl’s window. The story was written to illustrate the food chain, starting with the still waters of the pond, where there is jade green algae, which is eaten by mayfly nymphs, which in turn are eaten by diving beetles, and so on.

I noticed that the repetitive prose throughout the book would lend itself well to grammar study as Maria Montessori instituted in her elementary lessons. See Montessori Elementary Material. All you need is blank grammar cards of the appropriate colours from Montessori grammar series, or, as in my case I didn’t have any at hand so I used blank name cards.

An Adjectives Lesson

Simply I wrote the adjectives and nouns from the initial sentence on each page onto name cards (0ne word on each card). For example; “deep still waters”, “great horned owl” “garter snake”, “diving beetle”, “mayfly nymph”. I selected the article cards from my grammar supplies to also show the function of the word “the” in front of each set.

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Here’s how I presented the lesson on adjectives:

I opened the book to the first page and pointed out where the water was being described -“the deep still water”.  I picked out those same words from the pile of cards I made and placed them in order on the mat.  Then, from the grammar symbols box I picked out the appropriate symbols for the adjectives and noun and placed them above each word. I also found an article card and placed “the” before the adjectives with it’s small blue triangle symbol above it.  I read out the sentence “the deep still water”, then gathered those words, put them aside and turned the page of the book for the next description. I left the grammar symbols in their places. Then the process of matching the cards was repeated. After the second page I allowed DD to take over the activity while I observed her. As she went on she found the descriptions on some pages were different.  Instead of two adjectives, sometimes there was only one, or in the case of the coyote there were no adjectives. DD  noticed that she had to add or remove grammar symbols to suit the varied use of the adjectives or it wouldn’t work.  In one instance she put the word “racoon” as an adjective. Then, when she saw there was no noun in her sentence she realised something was wrong and corrected herself.

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A Verb Exercise

In addition to this adjective exercise, “Pond Circle” had a perfect last page for the study of verbs. There was a list of all the animals and their actions! “Owls swoop”, “Beatles dive” etc.

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I copied the verbs and nouns down and the presentation of the lesson was similar to the adjectives exercise. I turned to the page and showed DD that on this page the animals from the previous pages were all mentioned but that they were not described as in the previous pages.  I asked  DD what was being said about the animals on this page and she noted that they were doing actions.

We used the noun cards from the previous adjective noun activity (I had added ‘s to the end of each one.  We worked through each subject as we had done previously, and DD took pride in knowing to put the noun first this time and picking out a different grammar symbol from the box, now swapping the adjective symbol for the round red verb.

In hindsight we would do the verb activity in vertical columns with one noun and one verb symbol heading the two columns. The structure of the prose was repetitive so we didn’t need the extra step of putting the cards aside for each new set.

We really enjoyed using a book with the grammar activity. Please comment and let me know of any books you have used in this way or similar.