Cogitating on Cogitating

A few days ago I was reading Tom Sawyer to my 8 year old son.  I have recently moved into the train of though commensurate with the ideas expressed by Micheal Clay Thompson.  I have started to focus on reading classics to my children.  These classics are designed to increase their vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure naturally.  How?  I guess it goes back to the garbage in – garbage out concept.  If I put high quality sentences into their little heads than high quality sentences are more likely to come out.  That said, I don’t neglect direct teaching on things like vocabulary and grammar.  I like to utilize natural ways to learn in order to reinforce what is taught directly.  Take a quick look at Michael Clay Thompson and his views on vocabulary.

Back to Tom Sawyer….anyway, I was reading Tom Sawyer to him the other day and I ran across the word cogitating.  We had encountered that word earlier in the book and stopped briefly to discuss what it meant before continuing with the story.  So when we ran into cogitating again our conversation went something like this:

Mom:  Cogitating – do you know what that means?
Son:  I remember that one.
Mom:  What does it mean?
Son: (pauses for a  moment) Thinking
Mom:  You were cogitating on cogitating?
Son: (pauses then smiles) Yes.

So you can see I am sold  on reading the classics now.  This isn’t the first time my son has learned new words just from reading.  While familiar with some of Mark Twain’s writing I have never read Tom Sawyer.  I was surprised at the richness of vocabulary.  Just one page of Tom Sawyer contains words like:  perplexed, infernal, impudence, ostentatiously, haggard, pathetic, vanquished, and serene.  Now my son often needs me to stop and explain what is going on.  He doesn’t get every word or every idea expressed, but that is okay.  Challenge is a good thing.


  1. 🙂 I was quite a curriculum junkie in the spring, so I brought it in advance even though we wouldn’t be usuing it for a while. Perhaps you will end up using it before us if you plan to start in the autumn term. Look forward to your views on it when you do.
    Take care

  2. We haven’t actually started Grammar Island yet. You are ahead of me. I haven’t even purchased it yet! I expect to start my oldest son on it this coming year. I think the Island level is targeted toward children around the fourth grade level. Some children may reach that earlier or later than others. We just finished up Bob Jones English 3 this school year. I haven’t used or even seen FLL or WWE so I can’t give you any insight there.

  3. Hi there,
    I think I lost my last comment 🙁 so here we go again 🙂

    We recently brought the Grammar Island materials, and my initial reaction was HuH?lol after having a quite read through the grammar book, I’m already very excited about the rest! we’re currently using FLL2 which seems so bland in comparison. I was planning on starting it in Jan2011 having completed FLL3 & WWE3 but I’m not sure now. Can I ask where you started and what you used prior? I’m hoping to get an indication of the relevant level so that she wont struggle with it. Would love to hear your advice. Thank you in advance.

    P.S your blog is such help, I have been exposed to so much through your efforts, many thanks and blessings.

  4. I’m sold on it! I enjoyed the video clip and am going now to take another look MCT’s website. It’s totally logical, and in harmony with the way we’re raising our children. They soak up wonderful new words through conversation and shared reading, then use them in their dolls/ cars/ lego play just so naturally!

  5. Funny! I am a huge fan of MCT myself, and my son’s vocabulary is beginning to show that, too!

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