Grammar and More, Sponsored by Portico Books Sample Icons To Represent Parts of Speech: Spring - Action Verb, Screw - Subordinating Conjunction, Glue - Conjunction, and N-Cube - Noun

Advanced Search
  Grammar and More on Facebook Fran Hamilton on LinkedIn

Portico Books
P.O. Box 6094
Chesterfield, MO 63006
Email Us

2000-2011 Portico Books
All rights reserved.

We Rated with RSAC!
Labeled with ICRA



LinguaPhile, September 2007

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

We welcome new subscribers from the Home School Book Fair in Arlington, Texas.


See Hands-On English at IDA in Dallas

Stop by Booth #708 to see Hands-On English at the annual conference of the International Dyslexia Association at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Dallas, Texas, October 31 to November 3.

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

Back to Top

New Resources to Complement the Grannie Annie Anthologies

Grannie Annie, Vols. 1 and 2 contain wonderful family stories that bring history to life. Now a comprehensive index (posted at will help you integrate the stories with your curriculum. Read first-hand accounts of the time periods you're studying.

In addition, includes several new resources to facilitate students' participation in the annual writing contest:
• a calendar to help get stories submitted by the February 14 deadline
• a letter to inform parents about The Grannie Annie
• a poster to inspire students
• tips to guide students with their interviewing, writing, and revising.

Submitting students' work to The Grannie Annie -- and possibly having them become published authors -- has never been easier!

Back to Top

Gear Up for the New School Year

Whether you're a teacher with a classroom of students or a parent coping with nightly homework, Hands-On English can make your life (and your students' lives!) easier.

Hands-On English is a versatile English handbook -- used in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges, and adult ed programs. It is effective for anyone who is working to master the basics of English, including people learning English as an additional language. For more information see . (Links near the bottom of that page will take you to a complete table of contents and a few sample pages.)

Practice pages, a card game, and visual aids are available for those who want resources beyond the handbook.

If you have questions, or call Fran at 1-888-641-5353. (Use this same number for phone and fax orders.)

Back to Top

Quote of the Month: Education

The principal goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done -- men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.

--Jean Piaget, Swiss philosopher and psychologist (1896-1980)

Back to Top

Expand Your Vocabulary: macaronic

Macaronic means "characterized by the mixture of two or more languages in speech." People may use words from more than one language in attempt to express their ideas. A resulting sentence could be described as "macaronic."

Macaronic is most often used to describe humorous verse that uses words from more than one language. Tifi Odasi, a fifteenth century Paduan author, took the name of his collection of such verse from maccerone, which meant "peasant dumpling." Apparently Odasi considered the mixture of languages to indicate a peasant mentality.

Both macaroni and macaroon, each denoting a food somewhat like a dumpling, are derived from maccerone.

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

Back to Top

Q and A:  Teaching Young Children to Read

Question: It seems that children who are not reading when they start school are already behind -- and I know that school success can affect success in life. At what age should I start teaching my child to read?

Answer: Reading is a complex activity requiring both physical and mental abilities. It involves following a line of type, distinguishing one letter from another, translating letter to sound, knowing meanings of words, understanding sentence structure, recognizing the relationship of sentences throughout an entire story, and even more.

Many educators believe that seven years of age is the best time to begin teaching reading. Given the fact that most reading instruction in the United States begins before age six, is it any wonder that so many children find reading difficult?

When children are expected to read before they are developmentally able to do so, they are likely to become frustrated and acquire a negative attitude toward reading. Undesirable as that is, the consequences could be even worse: Preschoolers who are taught to recognize individual words -- not
thinking about the meanings of those words or interpreting them in a larger context -- may learn to read with a part of their brain that deals with that one narrow facet of the reading task, seriously hampering their ability to ever become good readers. (Preschoolers who spontaneously teach themselves to read, motivated by their own curiosity, present a different situation. They need not be dissuaded from reading because (1) they are initiating the reading rather than being pressured by an outsider and (2) they are engaged in the whole reading process, including comprehension, not simply decoding.)

Although formal reading instruction should not begin too early, there are many things that parents of young children can and should do to get their children started on the road to reading:
• Involve children with language. This begins with talking and listening. Lead children to expect all communication to have meaning.
• Introduce children to a number of concepts and experiences so that they will acquire the background knowledge and vocabulary that they will use in reading. For example, acquaint children with various kinds of animals, occupations, and everyday activities.
• Read to children -- every day -- even children who are too young to understand you and children who are old enough to read independently. Let children see you reading alone, and let them know that reading is a pleasant activity that yields both information and enjoyment.

The following articles provide suggestions for helping your children become better readers: (nurturing language development in very young children and in older children who may experience difficulty with some aspects of the communication process) (helping reluctant readers develop their reading skill)

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

Back to Top

Review: Listen to This: Developing an Ear for Expository by Marcia S. Freeman

Students generally prefer writing narration (stories) to writing exposition (explanation). Not surprisingly, they also perform better when writing narration as opposed to exposition. In her foreword to Listen to This: Developing an Ear for Expository author Marcia S. Freeman suggests that if we read well-written expository pieces to students and help them listen for the characteristics and techniques that make those pieces successful, students will develop an ear for the genre and improve their expository skills dramatically.

Listen to This is helpful for teachers and students alike. It comprises "An Expository Writing Primer" plus eighteen read-aloud samples in various expository and persuasive genres. The primer discusses such "target skills" as function, organization, focus, clarity, beginnings, endings, and transitions. Freeman gets practical and specific, giving examples of various organizational schemes, different kinds of supporting details, strategies to make writing lively, etc.

Each of the read-aloud samples is followed by a brief analysis, calling attention to strategies that contribute to the passage's success. The samples included in Listen to This are intended only as a beginning, however. Freeman provides lists of books and periodicals where educators (grades 4-12) can find an endless supply of expository samples. Three appendices provide tips and additional organizational strategies.

While Freeman directs her book toward educators, her explanations are short enough and clear enough that I would not hesitate to put this book directly into the hands of students (4th grade and older).

I spent hours looking for a book that models expository writing for middle school students. Listen to This, which greatly exceeds my expectations, made the search worthwhile.

Published by Maupin House, 1997 (119 pages).

Available from Listen to This: Developing an Ear for Expository

Back to Top

Review: A B C: A Child's First Alphabet Book  by Alison Jay

I recently discovered A B C: A Child's First Alphabet Book by Alison Jay. What a delight! Each letter of the alphabet is given a full page, if not a two-page spread. The text is very simple, following the "A is for apple" format. Both upper- and lowercase versions of the target letter are shown.

The art, however, is extraordinary! It usually occupies most of the page with the target object most prominent. The subtleties, though, are what give this book its whimsical charm: other objects on the page that begin with the same letter (they are all listed on the last page) and the recurrence of objects throughout the book. Nearly every page contains as a small, obscure detail the object that will be prominently featured with the next letter of the alphabet. Sometimes these are embedded secondary details -- in the pattern of a plate, for example, or on the cover of a book.

Jay's book contains all the seeds for the discovery and excitement that prompt a child to exclaim, "Look! That's just like . . ." and scurry back through the pages, searching for the remembered image. The suggestion of a story line is there, too, with an explorer, a map, and a treasure chest.

I am so grateful to have discovered Alison Jay (both author and illustrator). A B C: A Child's First Alphabet Book is the first book I have bought for my first grandchild, due to be born next month.

Published by Dutton Children's Books, 2003 (32 pages).

Available from ABC: A Child's First Alphabet Book

1 2 3: A Child's First Counting Book, also by Alison Jay, was released earlier this month. Although I haven't seen that book, I have read that each page offers many things to count and features scenes from ten favorite fairy tales.

Available from 1-2-3: A Child's First Counting Book

Back to Top

Puzzler: All Mixed Up!

Each of the following groups of letters will unscramble to make a noun. This puzzle has an added twist, however. Preceding the noun with an adjective will make a well-known phrase that could name the original jumble. You are given the first letter and the number of letters in the adjective. The solid blank is for the jumbled word.

 Example: ustn m _ _ _ _   __________   [mixed nuts]
 1. gsge

 2. rowd

 3. adrsc

 4. samgese

 5. untoccd

 6. pymanco

 7. trirenufu

 8. glatveeseb

 9. lushedec

10. aunttosii

s _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   __________

m _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   __________ 

s _ _ _ _ _ _ _   __________

g _ _ _ _ _ _   __________

d _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   __________

m _ _ _ _   __________

r _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   __________

m _ _ _ _   __________

e _ _ _ _ _ _   __________

c _ _ _ _ _ _ _   __________

Answers will appear in the next issue.

Answers to April Puzzler

A. Anagrams for "William Shakespeare"
Has Will a peer, I ask me.
I swear he's like a lamp.
We all make his praise.
B. Just a few of the many titles spawned by lines from Shakespeare's plays:
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie (Macbeth)
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (Macbeth)
The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck (Macbeth)  
The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder (Julius Caesar)  
Perchance to Dream by Robert B. Parker (Hamlet)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard (Hamlet
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (The Tempest)
Full Fathom Five by James Stewart Carter (The Tempest)  
The Quality of Mercy by Faye Kellerman (The Merchant of Venice)
Rain from Heaven by S. N. Behrmann (The Merchant of Venice)
The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck (Richard III)
Bell, Book, and Candle by John Van Druten (King John)
Richard Lederer lists dozens of such titles in The Miracle of Language (published by Pocket Books in 1991) -- and titles spawned from lines in Shakespeare's sonnets as well. 

Back to Top

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 available on the GrammarAndMore website: This makes the information from previous issues readily accessible. You are encouraged to print the index for your convenience and to share it with friends. Why not send them the URL?

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

Copyright 2007 Fran Santoro Hamilton


FREE Newsletters

Subscribe to LinguaPhile
Subscribe to Acu-Write

View Cart/Checkout


Package Deal!
Add to Cart

Buy Hands-On English, the Activity Book (Reproducible Edition), and Hands-On Sentences for $50.00

Hands-On English, Second Edition (Handbook)
Add to Cart

The Activity Book (Practice Pages)
Reproducible Edition:
Add to Cart

Consumable Edition:
Add to Cart

Student Workbook:
Add to Cart

Hands-On Sentences (Card Game)
Add to Cart

Wild Card from Hands-On Sentences

Hands-On Icons (Visual Aids)
Add to Cart

Icon for Compound Sentence
Email this page to a friend!


About Portico Books



View Cart/Checkout