I love Julie's "big kid talk" comparison! That is great!
My second grader has not learned parts of speech and we have not been doing dictation. But she does listen to lots of good literature, and when doing her summaries for her history notebook she can come up with good sentences... although sometimes I have to remind her that she should make sure her summary would make sense to a person who has never heard about the topic (for instance, she tends to just jump right in and say something like "They signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776" without first explaining WHO they
are and WHAT the Declaration
is). But that is sort of a different subject.
Out of curiosity, I just asked my second grader to explain "a sentence." I wonder if her wording could help another child her age?
I asked, "Can you tell me what a sentence is like?"
She said: "A sentence is a string of words."
So I said, "Blue yellow duck hat. That is a string of words, but is that a sentence?"
She laughed. "No, that doesn't make sense. A sentence is a string of words that make sense."
I pointed to a balloon she was blowing up. "Balloon in mouth!" I said. "Is that a sentence?"
She smiled and replied, "No, because it doesn't make sense. It sounds like a baby talking."
I asked, "How would you make that into a real sentence?"
Gail said (mimicking the voice I had used for my "balloon in mouth" comment), "You have a balloon in your mouth!"
I pointed to the cat and just said, "'The cat.' Is that a sentence?"
She said, "No, the cat has to do something or you have to say something about the cat. Otherwise it's just random words."
So I said, "The cat runs. Is that a sentence?"
She replied, "Yes, because now I know something about the cat."
Then she looked suspicious and asked, "Why all this talk about sentences?"
I found it interesting that she made the "baby talk" connection. We do discuss
sentences quite a bit. During Spelling (we use Spelling by Sound and Structure), I often ask her to use the spelling words in a sentence. So if the word is "babies," she may say, "Mrs. Jamie watches the babies
in the nursery at church." I try to encourage her to be creative in these instead of just making short ones like "Babies are cute." It has helped her in forming lots of variations in sentence structure in a gentle and fun way. I think that has helped, as well as all of the Bible Notebook summaries from First Grade and a little journal we kept in Kindergarten.
I don't do the dictations with her because she does plenty of writing otherwise and she would not do well at the spelling (at all!) and would be very frustrated. If she writes a word incorrectly she tends to remember it incorrectly in the future, and it sets her back. So I think that skipping dictation is fine! Mayhap work on sentences orally to skip all the tedium of writing and spelling until he has the concept of the sentence cemented in his mind.
I do like much of PLL but the dictations are something we skip entirely. I suppose this may not be popular advice...
... a forgiven child of God since 1994 (age 16)
... happily wed to William since 1996
... mother of our long-awaited Gail (3/15/2006)
... missing 6 little ones (4 miscarriages, 2 ectopics)
... starting Rome to the Reformation this fall!