Finding Animals and Adjectives in the ZOO

July 29, 2013

This morning, Robert and I  drove to the Roger Williams Park and Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island. We left around 9:15 and arrived at the Zoo at 10:00.  Probably because of the weather , the dark clouds hang over Rhode Island,  the Zoo was not as full as it usually is on a summer vacation day.  Since there were not many parents and children to watch (animals and us)  I was much less inhibited in teaching Robert.   I decided to practice describing animals. From time to time, Robert encounters word, “adjectives”.He half knows it, and half he doesn’t.  He is not sure either what the command, “Describe it.” means.  But here in the Zoo, we had all sorts of shapes,  sizes, and colors and more.  We had adjectives by the dozens.

White and black stripes, spotted fur, long back legs   and short front legs, curved horns, straight horns, bent or hooked bills. We had it all:  tall, huge, small and tiny, heavy, fluffy, dry and wet, calm and noisy, sleepy and active, pink, red, green, blue, scary, sharp, cute, ugly, majestic, beautiful, and more.

We have had Zoo membership for 18 years now.  When Robert was six or seven years old, with my help, he made a book about zoo which was also an introduction to sentence building.  On each page of an album there was a picture of an animal, we took at the ZOO and two sentences.  The sentences Robert had to unscramble from cut out printed words.  He looked for capital letter to start the sentence and for a coma to end it.  The sentences were simple:  ” This is an elephant.  The elephant is gray.”  Robert glued the words under the pictures.  He read a book a few times.  More than 15 years ago, that was an easy task for Robert.   But to SAY similar sentences   is much harder, even now when Robert  approaches his 22nd birthday.  It is specially hard when the directions are as mysterious as, “Describe and elephant.”  and relate to a real thing instead of a picture displayed on a table. “The elephant is gray and big.  It has a long trunk.  It has wide ears.  The elephant is heavy.  The elephant has a thin tail.  ”  The sentences come slowly and with a great effort.  Some stuttering, a few omissions and a few misplaced words. It is really a challenging task.

But there is a pay off.  Between all that describing in the ZOO, there is a time and a room for a frozen lemonade.

Watermelon flavor, please.

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