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LinguaPhile, November 2006

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

We welcome new subscribers from the IAHE, MPE, and CHAP conferences!


See Hands-On English at IDA in Indianapolis -- Tomorrow!

The Hands-On English program will be exhibited at the annual conference of the International Dyslexia Association in Indianapolis November 8-11, 2006. If you will be attending IDA, be sure to stop by Booth 713 to say hello to Fran and see new products, including Grannie Annie, Vol. 1. Invite your friends to do the same!

Becoming familiar with the products online can give you a good background for seeing them in person:

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Submitting Family Stories for Grannie Annie, Vol. 2

Just a year ago we launched The Grannie Annie -- A Family Story Celebration. The 24 stories in Grannie Annie, Vol. 1 provide an insider's perspective on childhood adventures, courageous deeds, and historic events.

Now we're soliciting stories for Grannie Annie, Vol. 2. Students in U.S. grades 4-8 and homeschool and international students aged 9-14 are invited to interview family members and write a 275- to 500-word story about something they learn from their family history. At least ten stories in each of two age categories will be selected for publication in Grannie Annie, Vol. 2 -- students have the chance to become published authors! Submission deadline is February 14, 2007.

You'll find all of the details about The Grannie Annie -- including guidelines and the required entry form -- at

Young people who are considering submitting a story to The Grannie Annie may want to look at stories that were selected for publication in Grannie Annie, Vol. 1. The stories are available online, and you can even "sneak a peek" at the layout of the book at

You can order this first-in-a-series collectors' item from

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Getting Started with Your Grannie Annie Interview

Holiday gatherings provide an ideal opportunity to interview family members and preserve their stories for future generations.

Portico Books and Thumbprint Press, cosponsors of The Grannie Annie, offer the following suggestions to help young people start gathering information for their stories.

• Identify your family storykeepers. You may want to begin by interviewing these people who especially enjoy talking about times past. Ask about the bad times as well as the good times.
• Listen attentively when older family members recount their experiences. What would you like to know more about? Ask questions! Take notes!
• Relate today’s events and your own interests to times past. You might ask, for example, What was your favorite toy? What was school like when you were a child? Do you remember any big storms?
• As you look at old photographs, think about the time preceding and following the captured moment. Ask questions that will help you reconstruct the entire event.
• Use a piece of memorabilia, old newspapers, or letters as a starting point. If you are looking at a quilt, for example, you might ask who made it, how it was made, special times when it was used, etc.

Additional suggestions for capturing family stories are available at

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Ben Franklin's Plan for Character Development

Ben Franklin believed in strong personal character development. He planned to be successful by excelling in the thirteen specific character traits listed below. He set a goal to focus on improving one of these characteristics each week. The next week he would work on improving another character trait with equal determination.

Week after week he focused on improving one character development trait at a time. After thirteen weeks he finished the list and simply started at the beginning of the list again. He worked his plan for over fifty years -- one week and one characteristic at a time. History suggests that his plan worked.

Below are the thirteen character traits Ben Franklin worked on to improve his chances for success. 

Character Traits
Self-control - be determined and disciplined in your efforts.
Silence - listen better in all discussions.
Order - don’t agonize; organize.
Pledge - promise to put your best effort into today's activities.
Thrift - watch how you spend your money and your time.
Productivity - work hard, work smart, have fun.
Fairness - treat others the way you want to be treated.
Moderation - avoid extremes.
Cleanliness - have a clean mind, a clean body, and clean habits.
Tranquility - take time to slow down and "smell the roses."
Charity - help others.
Humility - keep your ego in check.
Sincerity - be honest with yourself and others.

Suggestions for Implementation
* Choose four characteristics. Individually or as a class or a family, highlight one for each of the next four weeks. Focus on improving that one characteristic for the week.
* Communicate during the week on how things are going. Do you need some help?

Questions for Discussion
* During the week have you noticed several opportunities to positively improve?
* What do you think you will learn about yourself from the exercise?
* Will you take another four characteristics for the next month?

We hope you have found this Teaching Moment helpful. Please visit for additional easy-to-implement ideas for parents and teachers.

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Help with Your Holiday Shopping

Consider doing some of your holiday shopping at . Not only can you order Hands-On English and its companion products, you can also read about dozens of Fran's favorite books and -- for most of them -- link immediately with her review of the book and with the page on where you can make your purchase:

Grannie Annie, Vol. 1 would be a wonderful gift for so many people on your shopping list: teachers, librarians, senior citizens, students. If you have a business with a waiting room, consider getting a copy of Grannie Annie to share with your clientele.

Hands-On English would be a welcome resource for teachers, students (4th grade or older), or anyone who wants to improve skill with English. Learn more and place your order at or call 1-888-641-5353.

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Quote of the Month: Kindness

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong -- because someday in your life you will have been all of these.

--George Washington Carver, U.S. scientist (1864?-1943)

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Expand Your Vocabulary: synesthesia

Synesthesia is "a condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color" (yes, some people seem to be wired this way!). A related kind of synesthesia is often used in the arts, where something that occurs in one medium is described in terms of another -- for example, "a yellow scream."

The Phantom Tollbooth, a children's novel by Norton Juster, employs synesthesia when an orchestra conducted by Chroma "plays the sunrise" and a handclap in the Valley of Silence is described as "a single sheet of clean white paper fluttering to the floor."

Synesthesia can help students find innovative ways to describe ordinary things. Suggestions for activities to promote synesthesia, including a foolproof formula for describing abstract concepts in terms of various sense images, are available at . (See items #5, 6, and 7.)

(Yet another variation of synesthesia is "referred pain," in which stimulation to one part of the body results in pain in another part.)

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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Q and A:  Those Pesky Dangling Modifiers!

Question: Our son, a college freshman, recently received a letter from the U.S. Air Force with the following opening sentence:
As an inbound cadet, new to our AFROTC program, we strongly encourage you to attend Operation "Purple Dawn".

I was annoyed by the period outside the closing quotation mark and was appalled by the dangling modifier at the beginning of the sentence! I often find similar constructions in my job as proofreader for a weekly newspaper. Here's another example: "Driving down the street, the weather seemed sublime."

Some of these sentences are written by my superiors, so I am wondering, Has there been any easing up on the rules regarding modifiers?

Could you also please tell me whether adding the word "since" would make any difference grammatically: Since you are an inbound cadet, new to our AFROTC program, we strongly encourage you to attend Operation "Purple Dawn."

Answer: As far as I know, there has been no relaxation of rules governing dangling modifiers -- just an increase in errors and an increase in the number of people who are oblivious to them!

Adding the word "since," as you suggested, would indeed make a difference: It eliminates the dangling modifier by making the phrase part of a clause with a subject and verb of its own.

I think you would enjoy SPELL -- the Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature. Dues are only $15 a year, and the organization sends out an eight-page print newsletter every other month. Richard Lederer is a frequent contributor. SPELL even provides its members with GOOF cards so that they can gently inform offenders about correct use of English. For more information about SPELL, see

Additional Explanation About the Previous Examples
For each of the sample sentences to be correct, the opening phrase must describe the subject of the sentence. In the example from the letter, the subject is we; however, "an inbound cadet" refers to someone else. One way to correct the sentence would be to change it so that you is the subject:
As an inbound cadet, new to our AFROTC program, you should plan to attend Operation "Purple Dawn."

In the second example, the present participle "Driving down the street" should describe weather. Since the weather was not driving, there is a problem. Here are some acceptable revisions:
Driving down the street, I enjoyed the sublime weather.  [The opening participial phrase appropriately describes the subject, I.]
As I was driving down the street, the weather was sublime.  [The descriptive phrase is now part of a clause with a subject of its own.]

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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Supplementary Language Arts Resources

If you're not already using Hands-On English materials as your principal language arts curriculum, why not order the "Package" as a supplement to your present program? The "Package" includes
• Hands-On English (a handbook that provides quick access to English fundamentals and makes grammar visual by using icons to represent parts of speech)
• The Activity Book (174 reproducible pages plus answer key)
• Hands-On Sentences (a card game that gives practice with parts of speech and sentence construction)

You can find a complete table of contents and a few sample pages from Hands-On English and the Activity Book on the books' respective pages (links are near the bottom of the pages): (handbook) (Activity Book)

Using the materials as a supplement is an excellent way to try them out. You'll learn how students can benefit when each has a personal copy of Hands-On English.

Substantial discounts are available on quantity purchases. You can order by phone, fax, snail mail, or on the Internet. Visa and MasterCard are accepted, and purchase orders are accepted from institutions.

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

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Review: The Treasure Tree by John and Cindy Trent and Gary and Norma Smalley

Many companies have their employees take the Myers-Briggs or another personality inventory so that they can recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and be more understanding of their colleagues, friends, and even family members.

The Treasure Tree by John and Cindy Trent and Gary and Norma Smalley helps children as young as two or three years to understand that people approach the world in different ways.

The story opens when four good friends, Lance the Lion, Honey the Golden Retriever, Chewy the Beaver, and Giggles the Otter, receive a treasure map from a wise owl. With the map are four riddles, each of which will lead to a key that will get the friends closer to the Treasure Tree.

In the course of their adventure the animals learn that the qualities that make them different from one another are the very qualities that make their quest successful. Not one of the animals could have found the Treasure Tree alone.

At the end of the book is a brief personality checklist (five questions per animal). Understanding the characteristics of their own personalities -- and the personalities of their family members and friends -- can help children get along with and appreciate people around them.

Published by Word Publishing, 1992, 112 pages.

Available from The Treasure Tree: Helping Kids Understand Their Personality

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Puzzler: "Kangaroo" Words

A "kangaroo" word is a word that contains a smaller word that is its synonym. The letters in the smaller word are in order but are not necessarily consecutive. For example, masculine is a kangaroo word containing male.

Find the smaller synonym in each of the following kangaroo words.

 1. blossom
 2. regulate
 3. container
 4. curtail
 5. perimeter
 6. matches
 7. exists
 8. respite
 9. encourage
10. evacuate
11. transgression

Answers will appear in the next issue.

Answers to July Puzzler: (Puzzle items are repeated before answers are given.) Simply say what you see here to "read" these common phrases. For example,

     side  side

would be "side by side."

  1. head
 2. day  day  [2 possibilities]

 3. e
 4. stood
 5. sec ond
 6. fi$$st  
 7. job  in  job

8. .that's


10. I + T < WHOLE

 1. head over heels
 2. day after day  or  day by day
 3. buckle up
 4. misunderstood
 5. split second
 6. fist full of dollars
 7. in between jobs
 8. that's beside the point
 9. space invaders
10. the whole is greater than the sum of its parts 

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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. Those receiving this forwarded message can subscribe at . People who have e-mail but do not have Internet access can subscribe by clicking on this link and requesting to subscribe: .

We welcome your comments and suggestions:

The index to LinguaPhile, which is updated regularly, is now available on the GrammarAndMore website:
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?

LinguaPhile is a gift you can give, yet still have for yourself!

2006 Fran Santoro Hamilton


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