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The World of Word Play by Quynh Cao

Words are posted all around us; they provide all types of information, but have you ever paused to ponder how it all came to be? In the North Room, when asked this question, children wrote:

When was the alphabet created?

How did they come up with the letters and sounds?

Why were they created?

Who created them?

Why do they look and sound different in every language?

Where were they created?

What was the first language written down?

Drawing from experts within our school community, Head of School and Beginning Room Teacher, Camille Hayward, came and began “short talks” on the origins of the alphabet. Children had been pouring over the details of an Origins of the Alphabet poster displayed in our hall.

Suddenly, etchings on buildings like the Columbia City Library took on deeper meaning.

Children sketch the facade of the Columbia Branch Library, noting the Vs in both PVBLIC and COLVMBIA over the doorway.

Words are more than something to be read or written. Words can be played with. Words can be powerful. Words can be precise. Words have prominence. New vocabulary connected to known words by way of root words. In this way, a deeper understanding of vocabulary development emerges: palindrome and palimpsest; benevolent and malevolent.

Read alouds such as James Thurber’s The Wonderful O had children wondering about a world in which the letter O was banned. Edward Lear’s abecedarian poems, Edward Gorey’s anagrams, picture books Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers, On Beyond Zebra!, inspired children to explore poetry, create books, write short stories, and try letter games and puzzles.

Sharing an accordian alphabet book.

Lilah's ABC Poem in verse.

While reading aloud The Z was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg Words, children took great joy in predicting what might happen to the next letter in the alphabet. Much to the surprise of both teachers and students, the alliterative sentences children conjured were much more entertaining than the original!

Abecedarian Poem by Toby

A was an amazing ambitious ankylosis.

B was a big brown bear.

C was a catastrophic controlled comet.

D was a deadly death devil.

E was an elegant evil elephant.

F was a farting farfetched falcon.

G was a gigantic ginormous giant giant.

H was a huge humongous hippo.

I was an immortal icey imp.

J was a juicy juggernaut jagwire.

K was a killing killer kangaroo.

L was a lying lemur,I'm lying he was a leopard.

M was a magnificent magical mango.

N was a nocturnal nipping newt.

O was an odd old owl with omnipotent.

P was a petrified penguin with pink and purple polka-dots.

Q was a quick questioning quail.

R was a red radioactive realistic running rabbit.

S was a super speedy snake.

T was a terrifying toy T.Rex.

U was an ultimately powerful undefeated pair of underwear.

V was a villainous vacuuming velociraptor.

W was a wet well water bear.

X was a xylophone with x-ray vision.

Y was a yellow yawning yak.

Z was a zippy zappy zebra.

Then E invented the eraser, was the end of them all!

What a gift, the alphabet, is! That something so familiar and known continues to surprise and delight!

Children and teachers enjoying the Poetry Slam.

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