You need certain accessories for this activity. A box of Marvel Lego, a local multiplex showing a thrilling Lego Batman movie and a helpful big brother with encyclopaedic knowledge of the characters. Squid’s target is to learn to use pronouns reliably; we set out together to restore justice to Gotham.
1) We ferreted through the Lego to pick out character minifigures. I also wrote key words on paper. This is not essential – but she reads quite well – so having the words to look at is a useful additional reinforcement.
2) I reminded her that we say ‘he’ for a boy and ‘she’ for a girl. We put all the minifigures into a tin bucket shouting ‘he’/ ‘she’ (depending on the gender obviously. And obviously I was doing the shouting and she was joining in. Since the point is that she mixes them up all the time!)
3) She shut her eyes and picked a figure at random. The figure ‘walked’ to three paper squares and ‘chose’ the correct one (he/she/it). I then supplied ‘is’ (squeezing in an excuse to encourage use of ‘little words’ that she often misses). Then she had to choose to complete the sentence with ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
4) Her brother kindly provided a jail and a party room. So we continued with “She is bad. She goes to jail.”
5) #get_real Of course – after six/seven rounds she started sagging – and we limped to a round dozen of doing this in a structured way before I let her just play with the toys. However, she used more pronouns in her play afterwards than before, so I think it sunk in a bit. Also, her brother picked up on her learning target, and helpfully seemed to make a point out of using lots of pronouns in their game (“He is going to kill Batman! Oh no, she is coming to stop him! She is too slow! He is dead! “ . Gruesome but helpful. )
Let me take you back a few hours. It all started quite sensibly. Family learning homework being to do something (anything) on the topic of ‘flowers’. Flowers: we know. Roses, daffodils, bluebells, daisies: we love but we don’t know. Petal, stem, leaf: blank.
Like many other school interactions – I take it as a tip-off for what classroom discussion will be about – and disappear down a rabbit hole of trying to prepare Squidling to be able to participate properly. Without making Squidling’s life feel like one long remedial class.
Here is what we made. We have flower names, we have parts of the flower, we have cued hours of discussion using this new vocabulary. We have second degree glue gun burn on the index finger of my non-dominant hand and we are probably in line for side-comments about unnecessary performance parenting.
Tomorrow I think we’ll make cake pops with green stems, wide leaves (and maybe a few narrow leaves) and of course lots of pink petals. Because I want her world to be beautiful and vibrant and not defined by the words she doesn’t know. A box of rose petals is the best way I know how.