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Notes for
"Thumbelina"
from Andrew Lang's The Yellow Fairy Book
A Fourth Grade Grammar Review

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     Whereas some parents and teachers will prefer to do only one or two grammar exercises in relation to any literary work, others may prefer to stay with the same work and look at it more intensely. Obviously you may use only one or two of these exercises, but I have tried here to develop a series of review exercises for everything that fourth graders might have studied within the KISS framework. Thus I have made this as a separate "Review" book in the sequential KISS workbooks. 
     Adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases appear in almost every passage, and obviously any construction can appear in any passage, but the following selections have been made in order to include at least some of the designated constructions. Remember that ideally fourth graders should be working at KISS Level Two. The analysis keys for levels three + are provided for teachers and parents to help answer any advanced questions that you or your students may have. 
     Additionally, of course, any passage can be used as an exercise for any level of KISS analysis. Many of these selections include "so" and "for" as conjunctions. If you plan to use them for studying clause structure, you will probably save some time if you study the discussion of "so" and "for" first.


Exercises for Review
     For the following exercises, you can, of course, direct the students to identify all the constructions that they have studied thus far. If you do not have time for that, simply have them identify the specified constructions.

Prepositional Phrases

Ex # 0 AK - L1.5 PP
Ex # 1 AK - L1.5 PP
Ex # 2 AK - L1.5 PP

 

The "For" Problem
[Instructional Material] [Notes for Teachers]

Ex # 1 AK  - L3.2.2
Ex # 2 AK  - "
Subject / Verb / Complement Patterns

     To provide fourth graders will some simple exercises, some of the sentences in the followed have been adapted (simplified) from the original text. Although an infinitive phrase slipped into one of the sentences in exercise six, these exercises are otherwise free of verbals.

Simple S/V/C Exercises

Exercise # 1 AK - L1.3 S/V/Mix
Exercise # 2 AK - "
Exercise # 3 AK - "

Compound Subjects, Finite Verbs, and/or Complements

Exercise # 4 AK - L1.4. Compounds
Exercise # 5 AK - L1.4. Compounds

Writing Assignments

1.    After the students have discussed sentence # 4 in Exercise # 5, have them each write two or three sentences based on the same pattern --  verb / subject, and verb.
2. Have the students each write two or three sentences with a five-part compound finite verb.

S/V/C Patterns in Compound Main Clauses

Exercise # 6 AK - L3.1.1 CMC
Exercise # 7 AK -


Distinguishing Finite Verbs from Verbals

     In the ideal KISS Curriculum, fourth graders have three years (grades four, five, and six) to master S/V/C patterns. You may therefore want to give them primarily "verballess" exercises, like those above, until they have mastered them, even if it takes all of fourth grade. If, on the other hand, you want to have them start distinguishing finite verbs from verbals, you can use the following exercises.[See the notes for instructors.]

The "To" Test

Ex # 1 AK G4 L2.1.6 FV/Verbals

The Sentence Test

Ex # 2 AK G3 L2.1.6 FV/Verbals
Ex # 3 AK G4 L2.1.6 FV/Verbals


Identifying the S/V/C Patterns in Subordinate Clauses

     Students will need to identify the S/V/C patterns in subordinate clauses in order to identify the clauses. In some cases, these S/V/C patterns are more difficult to identify so I have made these separate exercises.

In Adjectival Clauses

Ex # 1 AK G4 L3.1.2 Sub Cl
Ex # 2 AK - "

In Adverbial ?  Adjectival Clauses

Ex # 3 AK - L3.1.2 Sub Cl

Mixed Level One Clauses

Ex # 4 AK - L3.1.2 Sub Cl

Embedded Subordinate Clauses

Ex # 5 AK G4 L3.1.3 SC Embed
Ex # 6 AK - L3.1.3 SC Embed

Noun Clauses -- Direct Objects? Or Interjections?
      If you are opting to work with randomly selected passages from prose, you will soon run into the problem of how to handle quotations. The sentences in Exercise # 7 will give you some relatively simple examples, both of the problem and of the KISS approach to handling it.

Ex # 7 AK L3.2.3 DO-Inj G5b

A Noun Clause as a Delayed Subject

     Delayed Subjects are too much to add to the work of fourth graders, but the following sentence is an interesting example for teachers and parents who may run across this construction in working with students on randomly selected texts.
Now the toads could not reach her, and it was so beautiful where she was travelling.
Now the toadscouldnotreachher (DO), / and itwasso beautiful (PA) [where shewas travelling]. /

[Where she was travellingwas so beautiful (PA). |
Traditional grammars would probably treat this "where" clause as an adverb to "was," or perhaps to "beautiful," but that explanation basically leaves the "it" meaningless. If we ask "What was so beautiful?", the answer is "Where she was travelling."
"How Much Can I Explain?"
S/V/C Patterns: Passages for Analysis
Exercise # 1 (90 %) AK - L6.7
Exercise # 2 (91 %) AK - L6.7

 
A "Free" Sentence-Combining Exercise

 
Exercise Original AK - WB Combining

 
Passage for Analysis
"What a beautiful flower!" Punct AK - L6.7
Optional Exercises
If your students have been studying Direct Address, Interjections, and Nouns Used as Adverbs, the following exercises should provide a good review.

An Exercise on Direct Address

Exercise AK G4Start L2.3 Dir A

An Exercise on Interjections

Exercise AK G4Start L2.3 Inj

NuA, Inj, Direct Address

Ex # 1 AK - L2.3 Mix
Ex # 2 AK - "
Ex # 3 AK - "


An Exercise in Literary Analysis

     Have the students make a list of the major characters in the tale. After each character, have the students list the adjectives and nouns that are used to describe each character. Note, for example, that Thumbelina is described as "quite tiny, trim, and pretty," whereas the old toad was "very ugly, clumsy, and clammy." "Pretty" and "ugly" are very subjective adjectives. They really do not say anything about the word they modify; instead, they express the speaker's or writer's attitude about whatever is being described. (Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.) "Clammy," on the other hand, denotes a fairly specific (objective) tactile sensation, one that most people do not like. Have the students discuss the various "subjective" and "objective" adjectives and nouns on their lists and how those words affect their attitudes about the characters. 
      Although this might be a stretch for fourth graders, you might want to follow this exercise by having students search for subjective and objective adjectives and nouns in other texts such as descriptions of their favorite movie stars, fashions, music, etc. The students might come to the conclusion that they are being manipulated (brainwashed?) by the subjective words in many of the texts in popular culture Is Brittany Spears really more "beautiful" than most women? 

Additional Writing Exercises

1. Many of these exercises contain compound finite verbs, so teachers might want to use them as models and ask students to include such compounds in some of their own writing.
2. Fourth graders who write very short passages (in comparison to their peers) may be aided simply by copying selected passages from the tale. Impress upon them that they should remain faithful to the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.
3. Perhaps the best writing exercise for fourth graders would be to ask them to retell the story, in writing, in as much detail as they can. To help them, you might want to give them a list of the major characters and events in the order in which they appear -- the Witch, the birth of Thumbelina, the toad, the fish, the butterfly, the cockchafer, the field-mouse, the mole, the swallow, and finally the little Prince.
4. Literary critics discuss the theme(s) of works, but themes are often the same as the moral (the point or meaning) of the story. Fourth graders can probably write a paragraph or more about what they think the meaning of this tale is. Although some literary critics believe that a work has a theme, most critics would disagree. Works have different themes for different readers, and the aim of the students' writing should be to point to the things in the story that support their version of the theme. Letting students discuss the theme before they write may help them see that they need support for their opinions. In the course of discussion, some students might suggest that the theme is that obedience is rewarded. Others may feel that the theme is that injustice is corrected. (The stolen Thumbelina is returned to "people" of her own kind, and Thumbelina's suffering is rewarded by her new life with the little Prince.") To support these themes, students will have to refer to different parts of the story.
5. A more sophisticated analysis might explore the symbolism of the setting of this tale. It starts, of course, on land, but the toad brings Thumbelina to a watery environment. Water is often symbolic of rebirth, and this rebirth might be seen as the beginning of Thumbelina's spiritual life. The butterfly (from above) helps her escape from the toads, but the cockchafer also comes from the air to capture her and take her to "the great wood," where she lives alone a whole summer. "Woods" are typically symbolic of being lost. From there, Thumbelina moves to the home of the field-mouse, under ground, and thence to the even deeper hole of the mole  who "cannot bear the sun and the beautiful flowers." This parallels the classic literary motif of the journey to the underground, the land of the dead. And, of course, there Thumbelina finds the "dead" swallow. Thumbelina aids in the resurrection of the swallow (back to the air), and the swallow is fundamental to the final rebirth of Thumbelina as he brings her to the land of the little Prince where she is rechristened "May Blossom." Because it thus embodies the fundamental archetype of the journey to the underworld and a subsequent rebirth, the tale can be seen as reinforcing the widely accepted theme that spiritual rebirth must be preceded by suffering.

Analyzing My Own Writing

     Don't forget that one of the most important, perhaps the most important, of the KISS exercises is to have students analyze a sample of their own writing. Have them make a double-spaced final copy (in pen) of something they have written. Then have them analyze it (in pencil) for the constructions that they have learned thus far. Finally, have them work in small groups to check each other's analysis. This group work has the effect of letting students informally compare their writing style with that of their peers. Although it is even more important in middle and high school, at KISS Level Two students will still see differences in the way they use compounds, prepositional phrases, adjectives, adverbs, etc. Finally, as part of this group work, you might want to have them make suggestions to each other about the overall quality of the writing its organization, details, focus, etc.