Now G.K. Chesterton has answered the Map Guys' Geography Meme!!
Gus and Ria are keeping track of all the responses over on The Map Guys' blog. I do searches for them a couple of times a day (they're not allowed to use search engines yet). They're SO excited.
I think GKC would approve of our new family project. (I think we need a name for this one - The Great Word Project - or something else understood in the tone of "Bill Nye the Science Guy"). After the kids had been begging for some more fun words like "argillaceous" (still inspired by Akeelah and the Bee) to learn to spell, I had to get serious. We now have eight card boxes and hundreds of blank index cards and we're doing some serious searching for "fun" words and organizing them into categories. Terri wrote out eight or ten word cards from a Latin derivates list yesterday. Bernie copied some words out from Sound Beginnings so she could have some easier ones. We saw the Princess Bride and immediately had to write down "inconceivable" (we couldn't find the word "hippopotanic" in the dictionary - maybe I don't have the spelling right yet). Ria dutifully looked up about 25 words yesterday from the 80 words she had copied down from Akeelah and the Bee and recorded the language of origin and definition. Gus did a little of everything and took special care to organize the geography section properly. Ria got scolded for leaving indelible pens in the reach of Frank and we both went "Oooh! "indelible"!". You get the idea.
I found a few interesting sites which we've been using to unearth fun words:
Merriam-Webster Online (you can use the unabridged dictionary for free if you're willing to watch a commercial - just don't close that window down in between times, or you'll have to watch the commercial again).
Some of our best learning comes from these "child-led" projects. I make a concerted effort to leave enough wiggle room in our studies to be able to put other things aside when a great moment like this comes up. I think this wiggle room has been really important for them in developing a love of learning as well. Not that there aren't any requirements in our home (there certainly are), but I'm battling against my own tendencies to latch onto even unnecessary conventions and keep my priorities on helping the kids really learn. This is hard sometimes!
I think one of the roles of a teacher is to cultivate - because learning isn't only about what the children know, but also about what they LOVE. So it's nice to see some of those efforts (like encouraging a love of language, but avoiding structured vocabulary programs) pay off once in awhile. :)