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An e-mail newsletter nurturing the development and enjoyment
of English language arts at home and at school.
We welcome new subscribers from the IDA conference,
Instructional Materials Fairs in several California counties,
and the Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators conference.
IN THIS ISSUE . . .
The Hands-On English program will be exhibited at the Home School Book Fair in
Arlington, TX, May 11-12. The Book Fair will be held at the Arlington Convention
Center. Stop by Booth #208 to see the second edition of Hands-On English
and the Grannie Annie anthologies. (A Supplement to the first edition --
providing just the new material from the handbook and the Activity Book
-- is also available. And there's now a FREE alternative sequence that provides
a day-by-day plan for using the curriculum.)
Becoming familiar with the products online can
give you a good background for seeing them in person:
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"This book should be on the bookshelves in all
elementary and junior high schools." That's what The Reading Tub
(TM) had to say about Grannie Annie, Vol. 1. You can read
the full review on their
The second crop of stories is now in, and
Grannie Annie, Vol. 2 will go to press in about a week.
Order by April 30 to be sure you get your copies.
This year we received nearly twice as many
submissions as in our inaugural year! Grannie Annie, Vol. 2
will include twenty-six selections submitted to the second
annual Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration. Written by
students in grades 4-8 based on interviews with family
storykeepers, the stories span several centuries and four
continents. They bring to life historical events and unfamiliar
cultures. These tales of family life, adventure, hardship, and
triumph entertain and educate us. Even more than that, our
stories connect us.
Stories selected for publication in Grannie Annie, Vol. 2
are now posted online. In addition, you can sneak a peek at some
sample pages so that you can see how the book will look:
We believe that the Grannie Annie anthologies
are books you'll want to own -- so that you can read the
stories again and again, and share them with others.
If you order ten or more copies, you'll get a 33
percent discount -- copies will be only $10.00 apiece! And the
book makes a wonderful gift for family members, friends,
teachers, senior citizens, libraries, literacy programs -- the
list is endless! (Reading stories that have been accepted for
publication is a great help to students who might want to submit
a story to The Grannie Annie in the future. Our next submission
deadline is February 14, 2008.)
Supplies are limited. To be sure you get your copies, order at
once. (Vol. 2 will be shipped in mid-May.) You can order
the Grannie Annie anthologies by phone at 1-888-641-5353, or you
can order at
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I'm sorry that you're receiving these resources near the end
of the month. But any month is a great time for poetry! If
you're committed to studying poetry in April and you've nearly
completed your plan for this year, file these suggestions away
for the future.
Here are thirty ways to celebrate poetry:
And here are poetry activities for K-8 students, organized by
grade level and subject (some involve science, math, or art):
Also, the April 2001 issue of LinguaPhile had poetry as
The April 2003 issue includes information on Found Poetry:
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Do you use an English handbook, a trusted reference that you
consult whenever you have a question about usage, sentence
structure, capitalization, or punctuation?
What about your children? Do they have an English handbook? I've
noticed that we adults may consult handbooks frequently, yet we
often expect students to remember rules of English after a
I am a firm believer in an English handbook. In fact, at this
very moment I am surrounded by more than a dozen books that I
have consulted while writing this issue of LinguaPhile.
Several of them are English handbooks.
Frequent use of a handbook enables each of us to use English
correctly and, therefore, to communicate more effectively. As we
become familiar with a handbook, we can quickly find the
information we need -- and as we begin to internalize that
information, we need to consult the handbook less often. We are
caught in an upward spiral of success that will make us more
independent and more confident in our use of English.
I submit to you that if a handbook is important for adults who
have been using the language for decades, it is even more
important for students.
If you are a teacher (at home or at school), please consider
getting an English handbook for each of your students for the
2007-2008 school year. It will make life easier for your
students -- and for you, too!
Is there a specific handbook that I'd recommend? Actually, yes:
Hands-On English. It is appropriate for students nine
years of age and older. Homeschooling Today has deemed it
"a worthwhile addition to any home library." (Parents, think
what a help this could be at homework time!) In addition to
providing crystal clear explanations, Hands-On English
makes grammar visual with symbols to represent parts of speech:
To see a complete table of contents and a few sample pages,
click on the links near the bottom of the page provided.
Practice pages, a card game, and visual aids are available to
help students master the concepts that are presented in the
handbook. (Incidentally, Hands-On English isn't only for
students. A number of professionals use it as their main English
handbook because information is easy to find and easy to
understand. Even though it doesn't include everything there is
to know about English, it includes the information people are
most likely to need.)
More information is available on the website or via e-mail or
Fran@GrammarAndMore.com or (toll free) 1-888-641-5353.
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Shakespeare understood human nature, and he was a genius with
the English language. The combination of these two strengths has
kept his plays relevant -- and performed! -- for over 400 years.
Here are some facts about William Shakespeare and his writing.
• Shakespeare was born in Stratford-on-Avon, near London,
England, on April 23, 1564. He died, also in Stratford, on his
birthday in 1616. He lived to be 52 years old.
• He lived most of his life in London, where he was first
recognized as an actor and a poet. He wrote 154 sonnets in
addition to some minor poems.
• Research has found that there are 20,138 base words in
Shakespeare's published works (as a means of comparison, the
King James version of the Bible has about 8,000). We see from
this that Shakespeare used a lot of words -- long before
Dr. Samuel Johnson wrote the first modern Dictionary of the
English Language in 1755! (It was not until 1604 that the
very first English dictionary, A Table Alphabeticall, was
compiled by Robert Cawdray. It consisted of only 120 pages and
• Of the 20,138 base words that Shakespeare used, he is credited
with the first written use of over 1,700 of them. In other
words, he invented nearly 8.5 percent of his written vocabulary!
Here are just a few of the words that Shakespeare is credited
with writing for the first time:
• If you think Shakespeare's plays are full of clichés, keep
in mind that the expressions were fresh when he wrote them. Here
are a few examples of "household words" from Shakespeare's plays
("household words," by the way, came from Henry V):
"an eye-sore" (The Taming of the Shrew)
"come full circle" (King Lear)
"dead as a doornail" (Henry VI, Part 2)
"eaten me out of house and home" (Henry IV, Part 2)
"elbow room" (King John)
"good riddance" (Troilus and Cressida)
"I have not slept one wink." (Cymbeline)
"Knock, knock! Who's there?" (Macbeth)
"not a mouse stirring" (Hamlet)
"play fast and loose" (Love's Labor's Lost)
"salad days" (Antony and Cleopatra)
"strange bedfellows" (The Tempest)
You can find more of these familiar expressions and their origin
• Most of Shakespeare's 37 plays were written between 1592 and
1611. They including comedies, histories, tragedies, and
• Shakespeare's plays were performed by his company, called
"King's Men." He was paid about $40 per play for his writing.
• Shakespeare's plays were not published until seven years after
For a wealth of information about Shakespeare, see
Information about Shakespeare's use of words was taken from
The Miracle of Language by Richard Lederer, published by
Pocket Books in 1991.
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If history were taught in the form of stories, it
would never be forgotten.
--Rudyard Kipling, English author (1865-1936)
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Bedizen means "to dress (oneself) in a showy or gaudy
way." The word usually carries the connotation of vulgar attire:
She was bedizened in a dress covered with spangles. Costume
jewelry and a fake fur completed her ensemble.
Interestingly, this month's word has the same meaning with or
without the be- prefix. The pair of words is similar to
bedeck and deck.
Hands-On English includes more than 200 morphemes,
along with their meanings and examples. Knowing the meanings of
morphemes can help you unlock hundreds of words the first time
you encounter them. Reviewers of Hands-On English have
said that the vocabulary section alone is worth the book's
modest purchase price. Learn more -- and place your order -- at
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Question: My eleven-year-old son is wondering
about the capitalization of proper adjectives that appear in the
name of common objects. For example, should we write French
fries or french fries? Is French a proper
adjective in this case, or is french fries considered a
common noun that doesn't require
capitalization? And what do we do with danishes, german
potato salad, etc.?
Answer: Thank you for a great question! Your
eleven-year-old is very astute to have noticed this anomaly.
When a proper noun or adjective expresses a connection with a
particular geographic place, it should be capitalized; when it
simply is part of the name of a common object, it tends to lose
the capital letter. Obviously many of these terms are evolving,
and experts often disagree about which terms should be
capitalized and which needn't be. There are hundreds of such
terms, as the following sample suggests, and not all of them are
adjectives derived from geographic names:
plaster of paris
You are probably more comfortable with some of those lowercase
letters than with others. And you would find some sources that
would use capital letters for some of the terms, such as
French fries and Roman numeral. However, reserving
capitalization for a "particular geographic place" can enable a
writer to convey distinct meanings with capitalization alone:
She closed the venetian blinds because the sun was shining in
her eyes. [blinds have nothing to do with Venice]
Dramatic lighting was an important characteristic of Venetian
painting during the Renaissance. [painting took place in Venice]
Proper adjectives in animal breeds generally retain the capital:
German shepherd, Irish setter, Siamese cat. Note that only the
geographic term is capitalized; other words in the name of the
breed are not.
Many handbooks and dictionaries will provide guidance on
capitalization of terms that use proper nouns or adjectives as
part of common names. As is often the case, however, the most
important consideration is for the writer to maintain as much
consistency as possible -- using one term in the same form
throughout a work and attempting to uniformly apply a rule to
Hands-On English will put a wealth of
information at your fingertips so that you can quickly find what
you need to know about grammar, usage, capitalization,
punctuation, spelling, and more. Get details -- and place your
order -- at
We invite your questions for this feature:
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introduces readers to Latin American culture. It welcomes us
to family celebrations and makes us feel at home.
The book includes delightful stories collected from family
and friends. When Carmen Teresa receives a blank book as a
New Year's gift, everyone at their gathering seems to have a
favorite experience to share with the group and contribute
to the book. Although the storytellers now live in the
United States, their stories come from Guatemala, Cuba,
Puerto Rico, Argentina, Mexico, and Peru. A sprinkling of
Spanish words enhances the stories' authenticity. The
stories paint vivid pictures of everyday customs and special
celebrations -- designing a sawdust carpet for Holy Week,
for example, or celebrating the Night of San Juan.
Perhaps even more memorable than the unique experiences are
the universal ones, the experiences that traverse cultural
lines and remind us of things we human beings have in
common: parents working to provide a good life for their
children, children testing their boundaries, siblings vying
with one another.
It is not surprising that these stories involving various
family celebrations also involve food. By providing recipes
for the dishes mentioned in her stories, Author Lulu Delacre
invites readers to partake of her culture on an even more
Each story includes a full-page linocut, depicting a key
scene. Smaller linocuts illustrate some of the foods in the
recipe section at the back of the book. Although most of the
Spanish words and phrases are clear from context, Delacre
provides a glossary that includes pronunciations, even of
Every family can benefit from discovering and collecting its
stories. Through the process of collection, people become
better acquainted with each other -- and with their family
history. When stories are written down, they can be shared
with others and preserved for future generations.
Published by Scholastic, 2001 (112 pages).
Available from Amazon.com:
Hardbound in English
Paperback in Spanish
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A. An anagram is a word or phrase formed by reordering the
letters of another word or phrase. For example, sheet and
these are anagrams of each other. Some especially
impressive anagrams involve phrases that have a close
relationship to the words or phrases from which they are
derived. For example, tender names is an anagram of
Here's an open-ended challenge for you: Rearrange the letters in
"William Shakespeare" to make a phrase that describes
Shakespeare in some way. You may change capitalization and may
add punctuation (including apostrophes) if you wish. However,
you may use a letter only as many times as it appears in the
name (therefore, you're limited to two l's and three e's,
Send your anagrams to
and I'll include them in the next issue. (Let me know if you'd
like me to include your name, location, and other information.)
There are at least three such anagrams (which I cannot take
credit for discovering).
B. Many titles of literary works have been spawned from lines in
Shakespeare's plays. For example, near the end of the play
Macbeth says of life, "It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of
sound and fury, / Signifying nothing." In these lines we
recognize the title of Faulkner's famous novel The Sound and
the Fury (a tale told by an idiot).
See how many similar titles you can list (along with the source
play). There are probably hundreds of them.
Answers will appear in the next issue.
Answers to November Puzzler: (Can you find the shorter
synonym in each of these "kangaroo" words? For example,
"masculine" is a kangaroo word containing "male.")
| 1. blossom
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LinguaPhile is a gift you can give, yet still have for
© 2007 Fran Santoro Hamilton