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LinguaPhile, July 2002

A monthly e-mail newsletter nurturing the development and enjoyment of English language arts at home and at school.


July Literary Calendar

We began this feature last August to celebrate the second year of "LinguaPhile." Although we will continue to mention calendar items from time to time, this issue is the last in which the Literary Calendar will be a regular feature. Many of the calendar items are anniversaries; you will be able to find them in the "LinguaPhile" archives.

Any of these events might spawn further study.

5, 1709 birth date of Etienne de Silhouette, French finance minister, known for his frugality, who cut out shadow portraits as a hobby (d. 1767)
6, 1886 birth date of Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit (d. 1943)
11, 1899 birth date of E. B. White, author of Charlotte's Web (and other books) and co-author of The Elements of Style (d. 1985)
12, 1817 birth date of Henry David Thoreau, U.S. writer and naturalist (d. 1862)
14, 1904 birth date of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Polish-born U.S. storyteller and novelist (d. 1991)
16, 1482 First world atlas published; composed of maps drawn by Ptolemy around A.D. 150 (See related learning activity below.)
21, 1899 birth date of Ernest Hemingway, U.S. writer (d. 1961)
22, 1849 birth date of Emma Lazarus, U.S. poet best known for "The New Colossus," the poem that appears on the base of the Statue of Liberty (d. 1887)
26, 1892 birth date of Pearl S. Buck, U.S. writer (d. 1973)
30, 1818 birth date of Emily Brontė, English novelist (d. 1848)

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Quote of the Month: Learning

Learning that does not advance each day will daily decrease.
-- Chinese Proverb

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Expand Your Vocabulary: dog days

You have probably heard of the "dog days of summer," supposedly the sultriest time of the year. But do you know the term's origin? It can be traced to ancient times. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans noticed that between July 3 and August 15 Sirius (the Dog Star) rose just about at sunrise seeming to add its heat to the sun's.

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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Q and A: gratifying / satisfying

Question: Is it ever appropriate to use gratifying instead of satisfying? For example, is it correct to say, "He found it gratifying to make people laugh" instead of "He found it satisfying to make people laugh"?

Answer: Thank you for an interesting question!

Gratifying seems fine in the sentence. The dictionary includes satisfying in the first meaning of gratifying. To me, the "obsolete" meaning of "rewarding" still contributes to the connotation of gratifying. I think I would be more likely to use gratifying if the satisfaction were derived from the response to something done. For example, I would be more likely to describe a standing ovation as "gratifying" and a good meal as "satisfying." This is purely a personal preference though. I think gratifying would be acceptable in either case.

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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Looking Ahead to the 2002-2003 School Year

"For School Success, Don't Coddle Your Kids"

Whether you are an educator or a parent, you will find these two dozen tips helpful in promoting a successful school year for students. Find the printable version at If you are an educator, you might want to include this in your summer mailing to parents (many of the tips, such as returning to the school-year sleep schedule, are things that should be done prior to the opening of school). If you are the parent of a school child, use the article yourself and share it with your friends.

* * *

"Vision: 20/20 Is Not Enough"

Summer is a great time to get your children's vision checked. I have found that, in general, the vision exam given by a developmental optometrist is more thorough than that given by an ophthalmologist. To learn more about vision problems and how they can impede learning -- and to find links to sites that will list developmental optometrists in your area, see this article from the July 2001 "LinguaPhile":

* * *

Hands-On English

Whether you are an educator or a parent, Hands-On English and its companion products can help the students in your life have a successful school year. This concise handbook will make the year go more smoothly for you as well! Hands-On English gives quick access to the basics of English, and it makes grammar visual by using icons to represent parts of speech.

Students who have Hands-On English at their fingertips will quickly be able to find answers to questions they may have about sentence structure, usage, capitalization, punctuation, outlines, bibliography form, and more. They will learn how to study efficiently so that they can get the most from their textbooks in the least amount of time, and they will learn how to break the writing process into manageable units.

See a complete table of contents and sample pages at Orders can be placed by phone, fax, or snail mail, or on line. Substantial discounts are available on quantity purchases.

If you have questions, or call (toll free) 1-888-641-5353. This number will also accept fax orders.

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Review: Raising Lifelong Learners: A Parent's Guide by Lucy Calkins with Lydia Bellino

Raising Lifelong Learners: A Parent's Guide is full of practical suggestions, many of which are helpful to teachers as well as to parents. The book's principal author, Lucy Calkins, is a teacher educator, yet she considers the teaching of her two young sons to be her most important work. Calkins relates many vivid examples from her own experience.

Although Calkins discusses things parents can do to maximize school success, Raising Lifelong Learners is not a book about helping children with their homework. Instead it tells how to make the home a rich learning environment, how to arouse children's curiosity in all academic areas. Calkins says, " . . . the qualities that matter most in science and math, reading and writing -- initiative, thoughtfulness, curiosity, resourcefulness, perseverance, and imagination -- are best nurtured through the everydayness of our shared lives at home."

Calkins believes in leading children very gradually along the path of learning in all academic areas. She says, "My rule of thumb is to help the child do today what she will be able to do tomorrow. I don't want my assistance to be too far beyond the child's independent abilities or she will be put in a dependent position, always waiting for and wanting assistance."

Calkins places heavy emphasis on both work and play. The latter provides an opportunity for children to develop imagination, resourcefulness, and language skills. Calkins believes that parents, not schools, have the primary responsibility for developing a work ethic in children. This is cultivated through hobbies and projects as well as through chores.

After Calkins discusses the nurturing of language arts, math, science, and social studies as children progress from infancy through middle school, Lydia Bellino, a reading specialist and school principal, addresses school issues in half a dozen appendices. Most of these, such as curricular choices and various assessment methods, can also apply to the homeschool situation.

Published by Addison-Wesley, 1997; 320 pages.

Available from Raising Lifelong Learners: A Parent's Guide

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Practical Suggestions from Raising Lifelong Learners

These suggestions are only a sample of Lucy Calkins' concrete tips.

1. Plan times, such as outings, walks, and meals, to talk with your children.

2. Remember that the amount of available time is limited. Time that children spend watching TV or playing video games is time that is taken away from other activities that would encourage them to use language creatively.

3. Celebrate the "baby steps" your child takes in learning to read and write just as you celebrated the rudiments of speech.

4. As you read aloud to your child (daily), expose him or her to a variety of genres -- poetry and non-fiction in addition to stories. Use every opportunity to model various reading strategies, such as using an index to find information.

5. Nurture your children's interest in other people, even adults. Prompt children to take small steps to become good conversationalists.

6. Instead of asking, "What did you do at school today?" (or a similar general question), ask something more specific, such as "What did you see on your field trip to . . . ?" Use information (from your child and from other sources) about what is going on at school to ask specific questions.

7. Involve your child in a number of family activities (gardening, caring for pets, planning outings). This will enrich your child's knowledge and vocabulary.

8. While children are young, establish reading and writing as habits that each member of the family (including adults) practices daily.

9. Give your children credit for thinking and observing as writers even before they can manage a writing implement.

10. Pay more attention to the content of children's spoken or written messages than to usage, pronunciation, spelling, or punctuation errors.

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Make Your Own Atlas

To celebrate publication of the first atlas, why not make one of your own? This would be an ideal project for a group -- a family, a neighborhood, a class, a homeschool group. With each member of the group contributing, the project is manageable for all.

First examine some atlases so children can discover the kind of information they contain, how they're organized, and how they can be useful.

Then have the children decide what their own atlas will include. Here are some possibilities:

1. Maps of their yards
2. Maps of special outdoor areas, such as woods or neighborhoods
3. Maps (floor plans) of their rooms
4. Maps of locales in a favorite story, book, or series
5. Maps of locales in stories of a particular genre, such as fairy tales, tall tales, etc.
6. Maps showing travels of fictional characters
7. Maps showing travels of historical characters (avoid simply copying existing maps)

One of the many benefits of this project is that it helps children discern how space is organized. If they are getting their information from literature, they are also getting practice translating the printed word into a picture.

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Puzzler: USA Words

A. Put one letter in each blank to make a word defined by the word or phrase on the left.

1. brawny _ U S _ _ _ A _
2. floating home _ _ U S _ _ _ A _
3. food, perhaps _ U S _ _ _ A _ _ _
4. gnats, for example _ U _ S A _ _ _
5. antonym of exaggeration U _ _ _ _ S _ A _ _ _ _ _ _
6. playground game _ _ U _ S _ _ A _ _
7. means of crossing Lake Pontchartrain _ _ U S _ _ A _
8. stalled traffic, for example _ _ U S _ _ A _ _ _ _
9. to "steal someone's thunder" U _ S _ A _ _
10. the Hare's opinion of himself U _ S _ _ _ A _ _ _ _ _ _

If you enjoy this kind of puzzle, you can find more USA words in the July 2001 and October 2001 "LinguaPhiles."

B. Now make up some of your own. You can make the puzzle more challenging simply by making the clues more cryptic. Send your favorites for inclusion in next month's "LinguaPhile":

Answers next month.

Answers to June Puzzler

1. rhythms (a 7-letter word that includes none of the five vowels)
2. uncopyrightable (a 15-letter word that uses all 5 vowels plus "y" and repeats no letters)
3. revolutionary (a revolutionary English word that contains all five vowels and the letter "y")

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Thank you for reading. If you find LinguaPhile helpful and interesting, don't keep it a secret! Consider which of your friends would also enjoy it, and send them information about subscribing. We welcome your comments and suggestions:

The index to LinguaPhile, which is updated monthly, is now available in either a text or .doc format on the GrammarAndMore Web site:
This makes the information from previous issues readily accessible. You are encouraged to print the index for your convenience or to share it with friends. Why not send them the URL of the text version?
It's a gift you can give, yet still have for yourself!

© 2002 Fran Santoro Hamilton


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