Sep 27, 2011

Toad and the Mole (and Ratty too)

We have been reading and loving "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame in the edited and annotated Michael Clay Thompson edition from Royal Fireworks Press. This is one of the first trilogy of books in what MCT calls "language illustrated classics". This first trilogy is for the younger students - I assume for Grade 3 upwards? but in our house it is used with great success with our 6 and almost 8 year olds (but they are avid intense readers and thinkers).

Language Illustrated Classics - What does that mean?
Sprinkled liberally through the text are boxes highlighting features of the language - such as alliteration, rhythm, punctuation, and a four level analysis - as well as footnotes with concise definitions or explanations of specific vocabulary when it is archaic or peculiarly English!

These "language illustrations" don't slow you down or break the flow as it turns out (I was initially unsure how disruptive it would be - it isn't) and allow you or the child reader to deliver more detail without flicking through a dictionary or asking "what does this word mean?".

Trilogy order
We are doing Wind in the Willows first and I think MCT expects it to be approached last in the trilogy but we hadn't read it as a family before and really wanted to jump right in...

Along with the novels (the others are "Alice in Wonderland" and "Peter Pan") there is the "Four-Level Literature Homeschool Parent Manual" 

called "Alice, Peter, and Mole", a slim volume with comment, chapter character quotes (which we are approaching as a little quiz along the lines of "Who said....?" which has inspired much jumping up and down with arms in the air "I know, I know!"), to be followed by

creative questions and activities, 

and study questions.

We are at our initial reading, 

and apart from the quote quiz and some gentle Socratic style probing, the "study" is pretty minimal so far. However, the girls are totally engaged in the story and to this end, when invited to audition for parts in a production of Alice in Wonderland (and yes, we will get back to the "first" book once finished the "third"!) both girls chose The Wind in the Willows as their monologue sources.

Language in action
Here is November (soon to be 8 years old) doing Toad's speech...

and here is July (6) with Mole's monologue...

Now that is living literature study!

You may also be interested in my other posts on literature, and Michael Clay Thompson, and MCT's Royal Fireworks' forum here and  bit more about how we incorporate it in our homeschool here

The Language Illustrated Classics are a great addition to an already wonderful Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts program.

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