Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Learning through Cartoons

If I've learned one lesson as homeschool teacher over the past 22 years, it is this: people learn best when learning is fun!

I'm not too big on language arts workbooks. They were pretty dismal to me as a student myself, so I couldn't get excited about them as a homeschooling mom. So, we have wandered along trying to find a fun way to learn English in my homeschool. Studying new vocabulary words has taken many forms starting with workbooks and then venturing off into trying computer programs, flashcards, Latin root study, and several other approaches.

Then I discovered Vocabulary Cartoons, a fun, easy-to-remember approach to learning (and retaining) vocabulary words! Everybody likes cartoon drawings, so there isn't any coaxing to get kids going on this book. Besides a humorous visual cartoon, there is an often silly "sound-alike" clue. There are also several sentences using the word so you get the feel of it. Plus, an easy pronounciation guide.

I am learning right along with my kids, and find myself relying on the memory clues. For example, the word "capacious" means roomy and spacious. I learned the word while quizzing my kids on Vocabulary Cartoons, and I later encountered it in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, describing a room in a mansion. Instantly I saw in my mind's eye the drawing of a skinny boy with a huge cap on, a cap that was spacious. A capacious cap!

Vocabulary words are taken from the SAT test, which gives me a measure of confidence that they are words worth knowing. Each unit is divided into 10 words, with a full page for each word. The words in each lesson are grouped in a logical way, such as all the words with the same prefix. After you study the 10 cartoons and their words, there is a quiz page, allowing you to match the words to a definition, and giving you the chance to plug the words into sentences. I do this quiz orally with my kids, (because cartoons are fun and because I want to learn too) but it could easy be done independently on paper.

The elementary age version says is geared for 3rd-6th grade, but I found it best at about age 10-12 years. It contains 290 words from the SAT test. It is followed by 2 more books, slated for grades 7-12th to prepare for the college entrance exams. I used them in my homeschool in order, starting with the elementary version around 5th grade and going at the rate of a word per day (Monday through Thursday) and a quiz on Friday. At that rate, each book lasted 2 school years. I would rather have the words thoroughly learned than to rush through and forget them.

It is a proven fact that students with mnemonics (memory clues) learn words three times more quickly and remember them far longer. I’ve been delighted to hear my children using their vocabulary words in conversations—our goal, right?! These books have been a great discovery for my homeschool and my kids have loved them!

Have fun reading the comics!

See Vocabulary Cartoons here.

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  • At July 11, 2009 at 4:22 PM , Blogger Kristy said...

    Your blog is such a light! I noticed your favorite movies on the left and wondered if you've ever seen the BBC production of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (the same author who wrote Wives and Daughters). This is not the civil war era mini-series that came out a few years back, the movie I'm talking about takes place in England and is a romance along side a cotton mill labor dispute. I think you'd really enjoy it!

  • At August 20, 2009 at 6:38 AM , Blogger Becky said...

    Thank you! Exactly what we need in our house!!


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