Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How Do You Spell...

At my house, from Jack, I don't get questions that start with "why." I don't get many "when" questions. I absolutely don't get "who." What I get are "what" questions, and increasingly "how" questions.

More specifically, I'm getting a lot of, "How do you spell [insert pretty much anything here]. After watching Roving Mars every day for the past four days, Jack has been very interested in Mars.

"How do you spell 'Mars?'"


"How do you spell 'Mars Rover?'"

"M-A-R-S R-O-V-E-R"

"How do you spell 'mission to Mars?'"

And so forth.

I really wish I knew what these strings of letters looked like in his head. He can recognize and read certain words (Mars is among those. And now, NASA.), but I can't imagine him mentally putting together letters to make them mean anything. That's even hard for adults to do. (At least it's hard for me. Sometimes when Alex spells something so the kids won't know what we're talking about, I have to make him do it several times.)

But it must be meaningful in some way for him to be so interested. He does like repitition, so maybe it's calming to him in some way. Today he asked me, "How do you spell 'little cat A?'" followed by little cat B, little cat C, and so forth, all the way up to J. And then I think he got distracted and had some trouble remembering what letter came next.

So he paused and then he said, "How do you spell 'is coming up next?'" Yeah, we watch TV at my house.

I spelled for him for 10 straight minutes in the car this afternoon before he said, "How do you spell..." and then made a noise that sounded a lot like "blah," only louder and with more syllables. Then he and Quinn yelled, "Blah!" "Bleh!" "Bleah!" at each other for several minutes and spelling time was over.


  1. When my son was a baby he didn't like riding in the car too much. We discovered that singing the ABC's to him calmed him down. Not Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, not any of the regulars, ONLY the ABC's. It wasn't until he was older and starting to read at about 2 and a half, and we took him to be tested, that we realized that somehow the orderliness of the alphabet was comforting to him.

    I cannot tell you how many times my husband and I sat in that car singing A-B-C-D-E-F-G.... because it was better than hearing my son cry.

  2. Mars. The child likes to spell about Mars. I'll look around this weekend and see if I can find some Mars stickers and stuff for your kids. If they'd like them.

    I am so thrilled that they (and you!) like Roving Mars. They filmed it onsite while WonderDaddy was off at JPL doing his science thing. Did you know the guy who did the animations was an UNDERGRADUATE at Cornell at the time? Very cool.

    Fascinating that Jack likes to learn how to spell!

  3. I could have written this post -- really. Sounds like our house. Sam is forever asking me to spell new words for him. Scary thing is, he pretty much can repeat them back to me. You might be surprised, maybe it's helping him to create a certain type of order in his head.

  4. I'm happy to hear that Jack isn't the only one obsessed with letters. It's kind of neat, actually, isn't it?

    And, WhyMommy, you would not believe how much my kids love that movie. We went out an bought it today and then Jack carried it around for an hour. Even Quinn talks about the spaceship and how the Rover bounced, etc. etc. etc.

    When I watched that movie, I couldn't help thinking that the people who put that thing into space and the people who made that movie are all kinds of smart that I probably can't even comprehend. When I was an undergraduate, I wouldn't have even been able to draw a cartoon of a spaceship. Same goes for me now. Amazing stuff.


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