Farmer Duck

So, have you ever tried to discuss books with a class of urban four year olds, and found that the only emotion words they know are sad, mad, and happy?

We read Farmer Duck today for the second time, and so this time I wanted to ask what the secondary characters were thinking and feeling.  “How did the other animals feel, when they saw Duck was ‘sleepy and weepy and tired?'” I asked.

“Sad,” they all said.  No one could say much more than that.  I had to do some modeling of a think-aloud:  “Well, I’m thinking that they must be pretty upset.  They love the duck, and they probably think it isn’t fair for the farmer to stay all day in bed.  They could be feeling frustrated with this terrible situation.”

Then when I asked them, “What is the farmer thinking right now?!” on the page where he wakes up to find the cow, hens, and sheep under his bed, bouncing it around, and making loud noises.

“Sad,” they all said.  WHAT?!  I couldn’t get more than that out of them, so finally I told them, “You know, if I woke up all of a sudden and my bed was bouncing and there were farm animals in my room and they were yelling at me, I’d be really CONFUSED.”

I have decided that we will start studying vocabulary in a more intentional way, and that we will start with emotion words:  upset, angry, proud, excited, worried, embarrassed, confused.  Definitely confused.  I’m going to pick books that deal explicitly with moods and feelings, and pick three words each week to highlight and post on the Word Wizard poster I just made this morning.  We’ll write the words on the poster, refer to it daily, and record each time we hear someone using one of the words, or we ourselves use one in conversation.

Maybe in a few weeks our book discussions can go a little deeper.


10 thoughts on “Farmer Duck

  1. I had this same problem teaching a similar population of students (100% ELL, 90+% free lunch, urban school). Starting in my very first classroom I had one of those commercial posters (Carson-Dellossa perhaps) that showed about 20 different drawings of kids faces displaying different emotions, with the appropriate vocabulary word underneath. I had it in both English and Spanish, and they were SOOOOOOO useful. I had them posted on the wall in our circle area, so as we sat on the rug the kids could see them (and could come reference them out up-close-and-personal during writer’s workshop). Eventually I started adding my own emotion pictures (real photos), and did vocab development using these. It’s disheartening, isn’t it, how limited the children’s emotional vocabulary is? Of course this is to be expected of the ELLs working in L2, but I found that my Spanish speakers were pretty limited in L1 – “feliz” and “triste” about summed it up. Our kids suffer from a poverty of language, and too often lack the freedom/safety to express emotion. Please update us on your progress in this area – I for one am very interested!

  2. I had this problem this week too! It’s like they only knew 3 different emotions – the sad part is, we discussed and learned about all kinds of emotions for a month earlier in the year! It seems as if they have forgotten them all – so a little review might be in store for them in the coming weeks! Good luck and let us know how it’s going!

    Also, what’s the Word Wizard poster you mentioned? sounds interesting…

  3. I also used Second Step when I was in an elementary classroom – LOVED IT! I often did the lesson in primary language (Spanish) one day, and then did it again the next day in English. I’d spend almost two weeks on a complete lesson by doing it in both languages, but the kids did really expand their vocabularies in both languages as well.

  4. Deepbluetide, the Word Wizard poster is from the Text Talk curriculum. I made my own — it says “Word Wizard” on top, with the rest divided into six sections. Along the left side, I will write three words for the week, and on the right side, we’ll tally each time we use one of those words, or hear someone using them. Miss Slinger laminated the poster so we can use it week after week.

  5. Ye teachers of tender minds are likely aware of a Web-based tool but, if’n y’all are not aware of it the on-line dictionary has a nifty-keen feature allowing the user to smack a link resulting in a pop-up window wherein a recorded voice pronounces the word for thee.

    I am unable to recall the term used for the markings used to assist in determining how to pronounce a word.

    Well, Merriam-Webster includes those markings in the pop-up window allowing the user to associate those markings with the verbal portion of the pop-up.

    Sure, a bit advance for the tykes but at least making the older munchkins aware of the existence of the Web site might be useful as the rapscallions advance through the grades.

    The Mighty Obbop, the Disgruntled Old Coot, star of neither stage nor screen, mumbled this at ye in a post-cuneiform manner.

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