Ideas for Exercise #7:
1. I narrowed the "living room" down to one wall. I don't know how your living room looks, but for most homeschoolers, the living room has many items to describe, including at least one *million* books! Describing one wall in our house was more than enough. So the first thing Reid did was choose the area he would be describing (south wall of the living room).
2. He listed all major items along that wall (a numbered list of 8 pieces of furniture or structures such as windows). We skipped dozens of miscellaneous items. (I originally panicked, & making the decision to just include 8 items made a world of difference in my brain!) He left plenty of space on the page after each numbered item, to add more info later.
3. After each item on the list, he wrote its color(s). We worked for a while on that, because he didn't really have the vocabulary (or interest) to describe off-white/beige, & many of the items in our living room are varying shades of this. He didn't necessarily absorb a lot of new vocabulary, but had an intro.
1. After each item on the list & its color(s), he added its material(s). This took a little discussion, but we came up with wood, glass, plastic, metal, fabric, or paint.
Most items had 2-3 main materials to include (rarely would he understand *all* the materials that make up a picture or a window or a chair). And at his age, he said "fabric cover" or "dark wood" but not much more. At first I worked on this with him, showing him that "fabric cover" could refer to many different textures and softnesses, etc., but decided it might take many days (!), so I saved that work for something else (describing the placement, see below). I think an older student would spend more time on describing the materials -- and so 8 items would still be enough!
1. Time to add the "placement" info. We started with a quick sketch -- which might help some kids but didn't add anything to Reid's understanding of how to write. (Drawing a map of the house is a big assignment later in WS, so it can wait, anyways.)
2. For his first draft he could only come up with a short paragraph, but this showed me what he was thinking. Reid had a hard time knowing how to write about placement. He insisted that just saying "south wall" was perfectly clear.
3. So it helped to use a marker board, and for me to pretend I was an alien. Was all the furniture in a pile, or stacked on top of each other? Were pictures grouped or spread out; above windows, beside windows, or covering up windows?
Note: He continued with his original list of 8 items, now adding a description of their placement. I guess this step was the major focus for me.
1. He typed up a more thorough paragraph describing placement. After my alien impersonation last time, Reid over-emphasized things like how many inches or feet, and where it was in relation to the floor & wall. That's okay, at least he's experimenting with some new description.
1. I read it back to him (reading it aloud to someone else would have been even better), hoping it would help him realize when placement was not clear. He did add some things as we went along.
1. The placement description was joined with all the other info about each item. He created one list of 8 items, but each item was now a paragraph (a short paragraph because he was a 3rd grader). Here is part of his 3rd grade result for Lesson 7 (grammar errors & all)!
- The South Wall of my Living Room
1. On the floor at the far east side is where my end table is. It is darkish brown and is made of wood 'n glass.
2. On the wall over the end table is where my window is. The color is beige (curtains) and is made of glass, wood, metal, fabric, and plastic.
3. Moving west from my end table is my couch, which my couch's back is about a foot away from the south wall. The color is off white and has a cover covering it all.
...8. And my wall is behind everything :o) and it has no wall paper. It is not behind the windows though it is "around" the windows and it is beige and of course, it is made of sheet rock and is painted beige.
2. Note that we had left out two of the steps completely -- the "kinds of pieces" (how many couches, chairs, etc., is already obvious) and "what they're used for" (which seems either too obvious when there is just one use or too complicated when the item has innumerable uses).