24 July, 2009

Riddles to the Rescue :))

Remember those dreaded spelling tests ? Oh ! I do remember the spelling tests they used to give us at school. Our English teacher used to look as menacing as the giant when dear old Jack was running down the beanstalk and we used to really sweat it out through the spelling tests.

The much hated, infamous ruler is known to have cracked across quite a few palms and worse still, knuckles – before some children got their spellings right.

Gone are those days, though. Now, if not anything else, children are treated with kid’s gloves at school. Even though the menace factor is missing, fact remains that learning to spell – by itself – gets quite cut and dry over a period of time. It does get monotonous and to put it in kids parlance – it’s so boooooring !!

Understandable – given the fact that children are stringing alphabets together to arrive at a word – or just mugging it up to retain the spelling in mind by rote. My vote is definitely for the phonetic version, though. Teach kids the phonetics of each alphabet and then get them/challenge them to give you spellings of words – as they see it fit – just using the phonetics of the alphabet.

This is how both Macademia and Pecan have been introduced to spellings and they used to love it. Note the past tense – “used to”. I guess, as they grow, as their reasoning capacities get enhanced, this whole process of stringing alphabets together too gets rather dull and repetitive.

The looks on their faces, over the past few months, used to be one of tedium. Gone was the excitement with which they used to tackle spelling tasks. It was just another task to be completed. It had ceased to be an activity that sparked that element of excitement. It was no longer an activity that brought about an exhilaration of sorts, that thrill of having to get something accomplished, that sheer pleasure of getting it right.

Something needed to be done.

Something had to be infused into the formula. It had to be something that would get them all enthusiastic at the very idea of spelling something right. Something that would reignite that element of eagerness, something that would get them all animated and something that would demand wholehearted participation on their part. Yet, there had to be an element which would make them willing participants to the whole idea.

The answer, when it did strike me, was quite simple.

What better than an aura of mystery. A certain amount of mystique, just the right amount of vagueness and ambiguity which would enhance the thrill factor at having found the right answer.

Riddle them !! said that voice in my head. Yes !! Yes !! Yes !! nodded the other half of my head, very enthusiastically and heartily. Riddles should definitely do the trick, was what my mind said.

Initially Pecan was started off on what we called Jumbled Riddles. Macademia was my partner-in-crime on this mission.

I would write down the riddle for him on his book. The answer to the riddle would be given alongside – but as an anagram – all jumbled up.

e.g Children play with us. We pop when children touch us. What are we ?
Answer : LUEBBBS

I am red and juicy. I grow on a tree. One of me a day is said to keep the doctor away.
Answer : PAPEL

What started off as an experiment proved to be a resounding success :).

Very soon, riddles ceased to be an instrument through which only spellings could be learned. If Pecan could grasp spellings through riddles, then the very same riddles (probably taken up a notch or two) could kindle the siblings' thirst for General Knowledge too. It would be a good way to make them hunt for information, to search for answers. It would be such an entertaining and enjoyable way to glean more knowledge and information.

e.g I am one of the satellites of the biggest planet in the Solar System.

I, the biggest mammal, swim in the ocean and did you know that I have a heart the size of a small car ? OK – first you tell me – what am I ?

I am yet to start riddling Macademia . With her, the peg would have to be raised several notches.

Of late, Pecan keeps up his consistent chant “Mummy, please give me some jumbled riddles ?”

Music to my ears, of course.

Very soon, it will not be a question of whether they can crack the riddles I set for them. It would more be a question of whether I am able to keep up the pace and keep giving them riddles that can prove intellectually stimulating, interesting enough to keep them hooked and motivated and thought provoking enough to make them go looking for the answers :)).

Knowing them, it is not going to be all that easy a task :).

However, one thing is for sure.

This journey promises to be a very very interesting one indeed !!

13 voice(s) said so:

Ann Dee said...

Hats off Supermom!

Guess I'll have to keep coming back for more groom-me-a-great-mom ideas!

Tharini said...

Hear hear Ann Dee!

G...this is seriously entertaining stuff. What fun to live under you sometimes! :D

Anonymous said...

What an EXCELLENT Idea! You have wonderful teaching skills.
Maybe someday you can ask them to write the riddles themselves, and quiz you. I'm sure they might learn that way too. Just an extension of what you are already doing :)

Neera said...

Awesome job, u supermom!! :) What an idea - keep them coming

mnamma said...

Great idea Gauri!! Would work great with M and N too :) Thanks!

Fafy said...

That's a great one! wish I had done these things too! :)

AMIT said...

Very nice post from you.

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dipali said...

Terrific! What a wonderful teaching tool:)

Suma said...

superb idea, having fun and subtle learning rocks!

Sue said...

Oh, fab idea, Gauri.

Sheela said...

Ooh, I am taking notes for sure! How smart of you to inject fun and mystery to keep learning fresh and interesting!

rahul said...

thanks guri for posting such a nice ideas.


Nagesh.MVS said...

Hi super Man.
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