Wednesday, August 27, 2008


A few weeks ago, I noticed my daughter's face was crumpled in confusion.

"What's on your mind?" I inquired.

"Mommy, what does cacophony mean?"

After I took a few moments to process both the absurdity and unbelievability of the question, I responded in true English teacher fashion: "It's a fancy way of saying loud banging pots or screeching sirens."


Satisfied with my explanation, she hopped off to find something new to play with, leaving me wondering how on earth my little miss managed to pronounce the unusual word, let alone come upon it.

But the answer was obvious: Pinky Dinky Doo

This is one of those shows that my daughter will catch when we take a little longer with our morning obligations. The premise of the show involves Pinky, a youngster who likes to make up stories for her brother and pet guinea pig as a medium for teaching a lesson they may apply to their own lives (yes, the guinea pig has some real issues).

In addition to the stories, the cartoon also encourages viewers to identify chronology (the segment entitled "What came first?"), and identify main ideas (What's a good title for the story?). Furthermore, each episode begins with a "Word of the Day" that is used throughout the episode and highlighted by the ringing of a bell everytime a character uses it.

Based on all of this, I love this approach to teaching kids about story development as well as a host of other useful comprehensive tools. My problem lies, however, with a lot of the "Word of the Day" choices.

And that brings us back to cacophony.

Before I continue, I must be honest when admitting that the only reason I know what this word means is because it is a poetic device I used to teach (think Poe's use of "clang clanging" in "The Bells"). Had I not had that in my background, I would never have had an answer for my inquisitive O.

Cacophony? Really? What toddler is going to use that? Is the point just to have a child use a word to impress others, leading the parent to identify the show and, consequently, advertise?

Here are some of the other "Words of the Day":









I will say that I think introducing challenging words is great for little kids. Our little sponges will never have a better time to absorb language (especially foreign language...shout out to Muzzy), and so using a lot of synonyms to add to a word they are already familiar with is great.

However, while words like "frustrated" and even "scrumptious" offer great parallels tp familiar words and are therefore good "fancy" words, others like cacophony and unflappable may be a bit of an overstep as they will almost never see them reinforced.

Or perhaps I am the one overstepping.....


1 comment:

Abbie, Paul, Drew and Charlotte's Web said...'s a bit much but...even though she may not use this word now, in the distant future when she's reading a book and comes across the word of the day, she might recognize it and remember what it means...advancing her reading level.