Friday, 26 June 2015

Finishing Up the Hound

When we started looking into the Sherlock Holmes series, I used the related Boomerang back issue of The Hound of the Baskervilles to get a little more out of the story than just reading it for fun.

It took us more than the scheduled four weeks to complete the study.  The reason for the delay is partly due to our going out a lot, and partly due to the dictation passages being very long and rather difficult.  And since I think the dictation passages are difficult, I decided to do it in a buddy system with Tiger, in that we will take turns to do the dictation passage so that he would not feel as though he had to suffer through a difficult task alone.

The way we did it for the first three weeks' dictation was to have Tiger read the passage out loud to me twice before I recite it back to him.  The rule is that I could not start writing until I could recite the entire passage without any error.  This proved to be much harder than I had originally anticipated it to be.  It took me several attempts before I could start writing the passage down.  Even so, I still managed to get a few errors in my dictation, which Tiger was only too glad to point out.

By arrangement, I always did the dictation first.  This was to give Tiger the time to listen to and memorise the dictation passages while I struggled through mine, so that by the time it was his turn to write the passages down, he was able to memorise entire paragraphs with very little problem.  Given the length and difficulty of the passages, I think this is a fair way to encourage a child to complete a task that would otherwise seem insurmountable.

When we came to Week Four's passage, I decided that it was just too long to even try to do a successful dictation of it at this stage, so we used the passage for copywork instead.  Tiger does all his dictation and copywork in the handwriting exercise books where he can practise his penmanship at the same time.

While the passage in Week Four concentrates on the description of the hound in the story, we did a little research to establish what kind of hound it was and came to the conclusion that it would have a cross between a bloodhound and a mastiff, which can be a rather frightfully vicious dog, especially when it was painted with luminous paint, as in the story.

To spare us from having nightmares about being chased by luminous-coated mastiff-crossed hounds, Tiger decided to end the study by making his own stop motion animation version of the scene that we had just studied, using paper cutouts as his back drop for the moors, plasticine for the hound, and an unfortunate LEGO man for the victim.

I won't mind running into Tiger's colourful version of the hound.  It seems harmless enough and does not even have teeth, and it reminds me of a soppy St. Bernard which, incidentally, is from the mastiff family!


  1. I am very impressed that you (both) memorised the dictation passages, Hwee! When we do dictation I just break the passage into short enough sentences to remember easily. But what a good opportunity to memorise great writing.
    I love that Tiger finished by creating a Lego film. Stop-motion animation takes a lot of time and patience, so it's a lovely way to consolidate a literature study.

    1. The memorising part was hard work! I'm glad that I joined Tiger for the exercise, so that I now have a better appreciation for how difficult the task is and therefore am less critical of Tiger's efforts when he cannot get it right the first few times. :-)

      Tiger finds stop-motion animations fun to make, so he was the one who came up with the idea to capture the scene in that way. His animation film is not perfect, but he is learning a lot from the process.

  2. I also like the idea of your dictation. I stopped doing that with my older ones a while ago but you might just have inspired me to take it up again, especially using tricky passages.
    And thank you for the link to the hand writing books. We are working so hard with T at the moment to improve his writing. He's taking his physics IGCSE next year. He's finished the syllabus and is just going over past papers and doing really well. But his handwriting lets him down. If the markers can't read it he won't get the marks, so we are working together to improve it. Those books will be very handy!

    1. I find it's the only way Tiger will take on the dictation passages as they are so long. Doing it with him also gives me a good sense of how he learns best. He seems to be at a stage where he appreciates some form of peer learning so we'll incorporate that more in the coming months.

      Well done to T for completing his physics syllabus. It's wonderful to be so prepared and to leave ample time for revision and for working through areas that require improvement.


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