Harvest Time

This year, my garden has produced a good number of herbs and vegetables for my family, but even more for the squirrels!  The word Harvest comes from an Old English word, hærvest, meaning “autumn.” The Proto-Indo-European root the word derives from is *kerp– “to gather, to pluck.”

Here is a collection of my fruit and vegetable etymology memes. Enjoy!

Resources Used:

Etymonline.com

Word Origins, by John Ayto

The Diner’s Dictionary, by John Ayto

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The stories of these intelligent and brave women who were instrumental in making history fascinated me. I am so glad that Ms. Shetterly brought these stories to our attention. I enjoyed not only their stories but the background of how NASA and the space race inspired a generation.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in the space program, women’s and civil rights, science or mathematics. And if you are not interested in any of the above, pick it up and see how interesting these subjects can be when framed through the lives of women who changed the course of history.

Listening on audiobook made it a bit hard to keep characters straight, but also helped me get through the more technical explanations. I think audiobook, plus a paper copy for reference would have been ideal for my reading of this book.




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Magicking Words

My 8th grade student “Luna”* is obsessed with all things fantasy and so when I asked her what words she would like to investigate, the word magic was on the list.

We discussed what magic was and looked it up in the dictionary. We discovered that the word can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adjective. Luna worked to make a sentence of each type.

We brainstormed similar words and decided the base was probably <mage>. We began mapping out our thinking on the table top whiteboard in my office.

We used Word Searcher to find words that contained the same base, and ruled out words that, although seemed possibly promising, turned out to not be etymologically related. These words were image, imagination, and magistrate– along with their derivatives.

As you can see, the final, single, silent, non-syllabic <e> is replaced by a vowel suffix. This is shown with the red slash on the final <e>. In order to keep the /k/ sound when a vowel suffix is added, a <k> is added sometimes. We learned that at one time, long ago, the -<ic> ending was spelled <ick> and sometimes when someone wants the word magic to look more–well, magickal–it might be spelled with the old spelling.

Next we used the Mini-matrix Maker to make a matrix.

We explored the etymology of the word magic.

We also considered the pronunciation of the words and how unexpected changes happen in different related words.

mage /māj/

  • Long <a> because of single, silent, non-syllabic <e>
  • Soft g because it is followed by an <e>

magic /măj’-ĭk/

  • Soft <g> because it is followed by an <e>
  • Hard c because it has no vowel after and <-ic> at the end of a word is poronounced /ĭk/

magician /mə-jĭ’-shən/

  • First and third vowel sounds are schwas and middle syllable has stress.
  • Soft <g> because it is followed by an <e>
  • <c> has /sh/ sound when followed by <ian>

magicians /mə’-jĭ-shənz/

  • First and third vowel sounds are schwas and middle syllable has stress.
  • Soft <g> because it is followed by an <e>
  • <c> has /sh/ sound when followed by <ian>
  • Final <s> represents a /z/ sound.

Luna made the observation that in the Harry Potter universe “nomag” is American slang for non-magical people, the equivalent to “muggle” in the U.K. A fitting observation for this exploration.

Further discussion and investigation into the grammar of the words gave us this information. Luna made sentences to help her remember.

  • mage: noun “someone who performs magic”
  • magic: noun, verb, or adjective
  • magics: plural noun or third person inflectional ending (“She magics the moonbeans.”)
  • magical: adjective
  • magician: “Someone who performs magic”
  • magicked: past tense verb or adjective (“The magicked beans grew a bean-stock.”)
  • magically: adverb
  • magicians: plural of magician
  • magicking: present verb (“He is magicking the stones to turn them into bread.”) or noun (“She is an expert at magicking.”)
  • magic wand: a stick used to perform magic

While looking at the dictionary, we also noticed the link to the thesaurus and explored synonyms and antonyms.

Luna and I both agreed that being bewitching and charming was much more fun than being normal and unremarkable. Next up, Luna wants to investigate sorceress.

*Student names and details have been changed.

Reader, Come Home

Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World

Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World by Maryanne Wolf

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I have been reading other reviews and people seem to either love or hate this book. It isn’t an easy read and it took me over eight months to finish it, which is highly unusual for me and my reading style.

I gave it a mid-range rating. I liked it. I picked it up here and there and read a chapter at a time. I enjoyed Proust and the Squid more and felt this book was overly pedantic and repetitive, but I did appreciate much of what Maryanne said.

I too worry about what the digital world is doing to ours and our kid’s brains with regard to reading and critical thinking. I also agree with her that the digital world is here to stay and our kids need to become bi-literate in a healthier way than they are currently. I do worry about how much of our textbook reading has moved to digital formats–especially for struggling readers. On the other hand, the ability to have audio readily available has been an advantage for many of my students.

I read this book with a real-live paper book, which is my preferred medium for informational books that I am learning from and that I will reference as a literacy specialist. I’ve been known to print out whole e-textbooks. However, in the time since I have read this book, I’ve read 48 other books, both fiction and nonfiction, the majority of which I read either on Kindle or by listening to audiobooks on my commute.

I don’t think there are easy answers to how to take advantage of and lessen the negative impacts of the digital world, but I appreciated Maryanne’s views and ideas on how to best introduce digital media to kids. In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy books in many forms and encourage my students to do the same.




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If you have a Garden and a Library, you have Everything you Need.

Two of my favorite things are teaching literacy and gardening and I get super excited when I can combine the two. I began making flower etymology memes just for fun when I ran onto a fun meaning in the course of researching for one of my tutoring sessions in response to a student question. The memes were a hit with my friends and colleagues, and I was having so much fun making them, that I took requests and continued creating them.

I love that pansy means “thought, remembrance” and that lilaceous is a real word. Here is part two of the results of my research. Enjoy!

The Plastic Magician

The Plastic Magician (The Paper Magician #4)

The Plastic Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I am enjoying the world the author has created with these books–a world where magic is like a science to be learned and discovered. Those who are “magically inclined” are apprenticed to magicians who train them to take the exam that makes them a magician in their own right. Magic can be done on only man-made materials and this book focusses on Alvie, a young American woman who likes to wear pants and take apart cars, in the early 1900s. Alvie travels by mirror to Europe and London where she learns the art of polymaking–or magic with plastics.

The book chronicles Alvie’s apprenticeship and growing romance with a fellow apprentice in the art of paper magic.

There is not a lot of action during the first part, but then it picks up when Alvie is kidnapped and has to use her wits and magic to escape. The book has a sweetness and innocence that is rare nowadays. The Kiss didn’t happen until the 75% mark.

I can’t say this book was un-put-down-able, but it was a lot of fun to read.




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