Saturday, June 4, 2016

The weird and wonderful world of words by Charles Hope

Do you know what 'crutch' words are?  I didn't until I read this book!

I really enjoy reading books like this.  Finding this is also perfect timing as my school staff will begin to explore different ways to develop the vocabularies of our students.  Perhaps in this age of 'devices' there is less talking but I know many teachers are finding children often ask questions about quite simple words.  Here are a few recent examples from books we read in our library oval (Poor Fish by Jane Godwin ) meaning a sports ground, coward (Elmer on stilts by David McKee) and shawl (My name is Lizzie Flynn by Claire Saxby).  In a National test from last month our Grade Three students encountered the word limb as it applies to your arms and legs - nearly every child had no idea about this word.

Here are a few facts from The weird world of words :

  • An average person will speak 123,205,750 words in their lifetime
  • The longest word in the world has over 189,000 letters (it is the name of a chemical)
  • The average adult knows 20,000-35,000 words
  • Children know about 10,000 words
As teachers I think it is our role (along with parents of course) to 'bridge' this gap.

Having a large vocabulary is important for developing your reading and writing skills and communicating with other people.

Using and learning words should be done in context but it should also be fun.  I love the page in this book which lists four great words from other languages :

GUGRA - Arabic word for the amount of water than can be held in a hand
LUFTMENSCH - Yiddish for a dreamer who lives with their head in the clouds
AGE-OTORI - Japanese to style your hair and end up making it look worse than before
PALEGG - Norwegian for in addition to for example adding extras to your sandwich

This makes me think of Frindle by Andrew Clements which is a book every Grade 5 or 6 child should hear.

You might also enjoy these books :

The weird and wonderful world of words touches on so many topics which could be explored further in a Primary classroom : spoonerisms, word origins, rebus, oxymorons, portmanteau words, isograms, malapropisms and kangaroo words.

Today I have been reading Olive of Groves and the slurp of time by Katrina Nannestad.  One of the characters in this second book about Olive is a rat called Wordsworth.  He is a walking thesaurus.  I adore the way he expounds on words.

Using books like The weird and wonderful world of words along with all the wonderful books in our school library is, I think, one of the best ways to introduce and enrich the vocabulary of children and even adults.  Make sure you take a look at the web site for Charles Hope.  We have 16 of his books in our school library.

Here is another interesting collection of word books (collective nouns) you can find in our library :

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