Saturday, August 4, 2007

An Even Fourteen

We often joke about what we affectionately call Helios' nightly "dinner show." This event occurs at almost any meal time (although we're generally all together only at dinner) and consists of Helios, in the middle of dinner (mouth full of food or not, it does not matter) breaking into song spontaneously. For all those who mock Broadway musicals as being unrealistic because no one starts singing when walking down a rainy street or in front of a Navy ship, please pause and consider our son, Mr. Musical.

Often, these dinner shows come complete with what I like to call "interpretative hand dance." That includes the wiggly fingers when singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider," rolling the arms during "The Wheels on the Bus," and foot stomping and shouts of "Hooray" during "If You're Happy and You Know It..." All of this is generally fine when we're at home, but when we're out at a restaurant, it's probably a bit disconcerting to our neighbors to have their pleasant conversation interrupted with a child faithfully reciting the names of Thomas' Friends in tuneful belting at top-notch decibels.

So, thought we, why not use Helios' apparently endless command of music for "good" and make it into an aid to teach him how to spell? It is definitely Helios' ability to retain information musically that helped him learn his alphabet and count to 100, so why not words?

It's worked magnificently. To the tune of "B-I-N-G-O", Helios has now learned at least fourteen words that he can spell accurately consistently. Naturally, his first word spelled was "train", which he learned by singing to the tune of BINGO, "Helios went to the zoo and there he saw a train. T-R-A-I-N (repeated twice more), and there he saw a train." He now can spell and read Mama, Dada, train, his first name, his last name, his brother's name, worm, train, monkey, giraffe, house, stop, bus, hippo, and the state where he lives.

Over the coming weeks, we'll probably to continue to work on animals and means of transportation, both of great interest to him. The hardest part is not in adding new words but in making sure we continue to practice our old ones.

By the way, lest you think that Helios is all work and no play, fear not. As you can see in this picture, not only does Helios enjoy playing, but he and his little brother share the same tastes in bathtub seafood, enjoying the squishy chewiness of fishy bathtime toys. Yum!

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