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The Vowel Family
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About the Author

Sally M. Walker has been a children's book writer for over 20 years. Most of her books are nonfiction and present various science topics to young readers. Fossil Fish Found Alive is the story of the hunt for the elusive fish called the coelacanth. Sally also enjoys combining science investigation with historical topics. Her book Secrets of a Civil War Submarine, which won the 2006 Robert F. Sibert Medal, tells about the history, loss, and re-discovery of the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in battle. Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland takes readers on archaeological expeditions, where the forensic analysis of colonial settlers' bones helps us to understand their lives. Sally especially enjoys writing narrative nonfiction that captures the reader's attention with a true story.

Reviews

"Conventions, the sixth trait of writing, deals with the rules of writing. Rules exist for a reason, but without personal experience, students may find them arbitrary. After all, in earlier times invented spelling was the norm. (Just look at the writings of the founders of our country or westward bound pioneers.)

For this mini-lesson, ask students to write several sentences and then make them into 'a secret code' by ignoring the conventions. The first step is to write sentences that follow the rules on an index card. (This is the solution to the secret code.) Students can use books in the classroom or library to find examples.

Now to ignore the rules, ask students to write those words again without any spaces or punctuation. It will look like a string of letters on the page, written in all lowercase or all capital letters. This will remove any clues about where each sentence begins. To make the secret code even more difficult, ask students to misspell words by leaving out the vowels or silent letters.

After students have their secret codes ready, they can write them on another index card and place it in a centrally located box, along with the card that has the solution to their secret code. (Ask students to write their initials on the back of both cards so that others can check the solution.) As students read the cards through the week, they can try to crack each other's secret codes.

. . .

Missing Letters

In The Vowel Family by Sally M. Walker, the story is missing its vowels until each new 'child' (Alan, Ellen, and so on) is born into the family. In Silent Letters Loud and Clear by Robin Pulver, Mr. Wright's class finds out what happens when they stop using silent letters.

Parts of Speech

The fast, fun, and rhythmical Words Are CATegorical series by Brian P. Cleary has a book for each part of speech, including Hairy, Scary, Ordinary and I and You and Don't Forget Who."
--Booklist Online

--Other Print

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