Sentence Correction

09 Dec


I finally dragged out of Benjamin the problems that he is having on his Language Arts quizzes. His teacher just slaps a grade on them. She doesn’t mark the things that are wrong or explain why they lost points. It turns out that one problem he is having is with sentence correction. So, I will start giving him sentences to correct.

Today’s sentence:

we got twenty five big new trees from you’re family ever year that we have lived here

This sentence needs eight corrections.

  1. The first word of a sentence must be capitalized.
  2. The past tense form of the verb “got” is used incorrectly in this sentence. The past perfect tense of “get” should be used to show a continuation (since getting the trees has continued over the years), so “have gotten” should be used.
  3. The word, “twenty-five” needs a hyphen (twenty-five).
  4. Commas must be used in a list of adjectives. “Twenty-five” is the first adjective in the list, so it needs a comma after it.
  5. The second adjective in the list is “big,” so it also needs to be followed by a comma.
  6. The word “you’re” is a contraction of the words “you are,” so it doesn’t belong in this sentence. The correct word is “your.”
  7. The word “ever” should be “every.”
  8. There should be ending punctuation such as a period at the end of all sentences.


So the corrected sentence should read:

We have gotten twenty-five, big, new trees from your family every year that we have lived here.


The Scientist Badge and the Scientific Method

03 Sep

Scientific MethodWe’re working with science these days to get Benjamin through earning his Webelos Scientist Badge. He’ll be learning Bernoulli’s Principle,  Pascal’s Law, and Newton’s first law of motion and how inertia works.

First, we’re going to get through the scientific method. He’s already learning that in school this year anyway. So, good timing except we should have gotten on that this summer.

Also, for the Webelos Scientist Badge, he will have to perform a simple experiment based around the scientific method. I think we have decided to do a bean growing experiment. His Uncle Gary won first place in a science fair back in middle school with a bean growing experiment.

You start with a question, something scientific that you’ve wondered about. Our question could be: Will beans sprout faster and grow better with more light?

Then you research it. We’ll read up on beans, sprouting beans, and growing beans indoors.

Then you form a hypothesis, an educated guess. This means that after all the research that you’ve done, you should be able to guess the answer to your initial question. In the case of our beans, we’ll probably guess that they will sprout faster and grow better with more light.

Then you do the experiment! First, we’ll need some beans. Terry says to use the dried beans that we cook and eat. I don’t know that those beans can be sprouted. Maybe they’re processed for cooking and eating. That’s something we can find out when we do our research. We can use the old school method using a Ziplok baggie and wet paper towels. We could put one or two in a window, a couple where they don’t get so much light, and a couple more in the dark. We’ll take lots of pictures and document the growth.

Another thing about growing beans is that it will also cover one of the requirements for his Naturalist Badge.

So, next you look at the data; that’s the information that you get from doing the experiment. You could even turn the data into some charts and graphs. We’ll see how our beans turn out.

Your observations are your conclusions about the data. Was your hypothesis correct? Were you kind of right, but a little off? This is the part that you’re supposed to write up to present to someone. Basically, you write it up in a report and include the charts and graphs and photos from the experiment. Benjamin will be presenting his observations to his scout pack.

Next we’ll work on Bernoulli, Pascal, and Newton.


Messed Up Words

01 Sep

dictionaryAlso called commonly confused or misused words, these lists usually include several words that really aren’t even used by middle school kids yet, such as “elicit” and “illicit”. Here’s a list of words that are common to kid usage, and they are words that I see frequently misused online by kids and adults.




Your clothes are made from cloth.

You bathe when you take a bath.

Breath comes out when you breathe.

You can lose a loose button.

You have to accept everything except for those things that you don’t.

You could eat dessert in the desert.

We’ll start with these, and I will do another post when we find more good ones.


Writing Better: Irregular Verbs

26 Aug

pencils and notebookI read the posts that Benjamin sends to his friends and don’t have a problem with any of the content, but I really want to make him rewrite them and fix all the grammatical mistakes and spelling errors. We work on the parts of speech so he’ll be ready for tests over that at school, but it’s not helping him practically so much to improve his writing. One thing is to have him write paragraphs for me, proof them, and have him rewrite them with the corrections. I haven’t gotten him to do that yet…..

So I looked at some things he had written and tried to find some specifics that we could work on to improve his writing.

Irregular Verbs

He wasn’t getting all the correct tenses for the irregular verbs.

To give him a better understanding of irregular verbs, I started with irregular plural nouns. He already knows most of those, and this helps to remember that things don’t always follow the rules, and they are called “irregular”. Some irregular plural nouns (to get you started) are child/children, mouse/mice, man/men, and goose/geese.

Then we talked about regular verbs and how to make them past tense by adding -ed, walked, jumped, talked, laughed.

We got out his notebook and started with his trying to think of as many irregular verbs as he could, and he wrote them in chart form in his notebook (present, past, and past participle tenses). Then I thought of as many as I could and would give him hints so he could guess them, and he wrote those in the notebook. Then we searched the web for a listing to use. I’m sure there are several, but I found the one at first.

We have mostly concentrated on irregular action verbs. Next we’ll look at the irregular linking verbs as they are a little trickier.


Getting Ready for Back to School

18 Aug

I cannot believe Benjamin will be in the fifth grade next week. We went to the fifth grade orientation at the school and got his schedule, the school calendar, a test schedule, a map (that was nice), locker assignments, and locks and then to the middle school open house where he got to actually open his locker. That was more important than meeting his teachers or finding his rooms. After seeing his list of classes and seeing the test schedule, I realized he really needed to work on geometry and social studies.

cube of spheresHe had just begun geometry at the end of fourth grade, so we started with some vocabulary: rectangle, square, triangle, trapezoid, sphere, line segment, area, volume. We also discussed two dimensional (such as a square or circle) and three dimensional (like cubes and spheres). Then we worked on area and the formulas to find the areas of different shapes (more on this in my next post).

For social studies, I figured he should learn the states of the United States. We’ve been working on the countries of the world for years, playing the globe game, but we never did much with the states, and he’ll probably be needing to know the states in school before the countries. We used the ilike2learn web site’s United States quiz, and I found that, after traveling around the United States since he was two and after my making him play maps with me, he knows most of the states already. We’ll work with them some more until he knows them all, but I thought we should get started on the state capitals.
United States mapWe started with the ones that are often confused because people think the capital is the big, famous city in that state (like Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and Miami), but it’s not. I’m needing a refresher on the capitals, so we just use the Wikipedia’s List of Capitals in the United States. The site with the states quiz also has a state capitals quiz.

He’s also needing a big review on his parts of speech, but that’s for another post.


And Then Everything Went All Surrealistic

09 Jun
Salvadore Dali's Persistence of Memory

Salvadore Dali's Persistence of Memory

Somehow this evening, Benjamin and I got onto the topic of surrealism. Probably something I brought up. I Google Imaged “surrealism”, and we looked at some surrealistic paintings, some photos of Salvadore Dali (my favorite painter), and of course, Persistence of Memory, you know, the melting clocks. We discussed the meaning of the word, “surreal”, how “sur-” is a Latin prefix meaning under, less than, or inferior. In a painting, I described it as something that looks real, but there is something very wrong about it. And I mean “wrong” in a good way. I pointed out that “surrealism” is a kind of painting, and we looked at some works by other surrealist painters. We then discussed how something in real life can be surreal like those magnetic hills where gravity is off and you can climb up a wall and everything is weird. Then I made him listen as I listed other forms of the word, surrealistic (an adjective, as in “I’ve had a very surrealistic day.”), surrealism (a noun, as in “I sure am into surrealism!”), surrealist (a noun, as in “A surrealistic painter painted my picture today.”), and surrealistically (an adverb, as in “He wandered surrealistically down the street.”).

All of this made me realize that it’s time to start the Latin and Greek roots list with him. I will need to find a good site with good lists.


Fast Food Math

02 Jun

Fast FoodToday we talked about eating lunch every day at a fast food restaurant, how much that would cost. The discussion began as an explanation to the question of why we don’t get to eat fast food more often and turned into a good, quick math lesson.

If we spend three dollars on fast food lunch every day — and I explained that was about the cheapest fast food lunch you could find — how much would you spend in one month? I said just go with thirty days in a month as that would be an easier problem, and it’s all estimated anyway.

He does the multiplication in his head to find the ninety dollars, and I bring up all the expensive toys he wants that he could buy with ninety dollars. Of course, he then wants to know why he doesn’t get a ninety dollar toy every month.

So, I have him figure up if he and I both ate fast food lunch every day and then figure up how much we would spend if his dad had fast food every day with us. Then we rounded that figure on up to three hundred dollars a month since the initial three dollar price was so low anyway.

Fast Food Math


Daily Quick Lesson: Grammar & Math

11 Feb


Identify all the parts of speech, and tell how they function in the sentence. Give the tense and number of verbs and the case, number, and person of pronouns.

The scissors were broken when I found them.


Bill, Joe, Mark, and Bob took a math test. Bill’s score was 97%; Joe’s score was 82%; Mark scored 89%, and Bob scored 96%. What was the average score?



20 Jan

We begin with the personal pronouns because they are the ones most likely to show up in simple sentences. We should also make sure, though, from the beginning that there are other pronouns out there. Pronoun explanation should start with some mention of all of the various kinds, demonstrative, interrogative, relative, indefinite, reflexive, and intensive. Some of these are rarely even used, but if the student knows when he first begins learning pronouns that these others exist, it will help him to learn them later. Just mention them; don’t expect the student to learn even the names of them yet.

As for personal pronouns, having the chart handy will help when identifying them in sentences. If the student gets stuck on one, let him look at the chart. After the student has worked with the personal pronouns, identifying them in sentences, have the student write out the chart as a diagnostic check.Personal Pronoun Chart



Math Lesson 1

18 Dec

By third grade, most students are working sufficiently with addition and subtraction and are ready to concentrate on multiplication and begin division.

Make sure the student knows the multiplication table.