Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Antidisestablishmentarianism for fun

Our nine year old kid can spell antidisestablishmentarianism. He's had a blast impressing the grown-ups with his spelling prowess. There's an old Chinese proverb goes like this: "Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself." Well he had the initial spark of interest and I followed so here's how I taught it.

First I just used the word (forget how it came up but he liked it). I talked about what a popular word it is because it's long and it has 28 letters. It's no longer THE longest word in English though. He enjoyed saying it and played with the word for days. It took a while before he enunciated it perfectly. That's when I got the idea he ought to learn to spell it - just for the ducks of it!

When he was consistently pronouncing it correctly I began to teach its spelling. First I wrote it on the chalkboard - a little intimidating for sure. That's okay. I broke it down and explained that the base word is establish and drew a square around it. I explained there are two prefixes and three suffixes and showed them what they were. We went over it a few days for our break in between subjects. After he could say each prefix, each suffix, and the base word with ease, I began to show him how to write it.

In a column on a white board I had him write (copy from me on the chalkboard):


It looks doable now, doesn't it? Sure enough! So I had him put it all together on one line on his white board. Shazaam! He wrote it all by himself I said! Now I dictated it one part at a time and had him write it from memory.

Whattya think? Now he asked what it means. Haha! I had to look it up. Basically, for him I told him it means the church and the state together and explained that it had to do with the Church of England in 1868. Asked him if he would like it if the government told him he better give more money to the church or else go to prison. For a visual I put one hand out flat, palm up and said, "Church!" and I put the other hand out the same fashion and exclaimed, "State!" and clasped them together and said, "Together!" Now technically, it really means opposition to the separation of church and state but all I need now is to set up a hook in his mind where I can hang more details on it later when he's ready. For now, this'll hold him for a definition. I used Maven's Word of the Day to go over the definition with him. I read it and just let him soak up what he could. Then we hollered, "Say no to antidisestablishmentarianism!" Boys like hollering.

People really do a double take when he spells it out. It's a hoot!


busyHSmom said...

Next you should teach him "sphygmomanometer" which is really fun to say! ;-D

Liliana said...

Too funny BHSM. I shall look it up! Never heard of it. It sounds like it might be something disgusting!