Someone recently asked on another list for ideas for stories that have time words in them.

In my way of thinking, there are two types of “things” in language: things that occur in sets, and things that don’t. Things that don’t become the “meat” of stories. They are the events that occur in the stories, and tend to be centered around verbs, or verbs + objects. “Buy a car”. “Eat two pizzas”. “Wish that [person] would let [another person] go to the party”. Whatever.

Things that occur in sets for me include: colors, time expressions, days of the week, months, weather. (This is just the way I think of it). “Sets” for me are things that could potentially go in ANY story, regardless of what the main action going on is. Everyone has to wear clothing in a story (well, pretty much… 😉 ); every action, no matter what it is, happens at a certain time, or on a certain date, or in certain weather.

Some of these things, for me, are handled through routines, not through a separate story focusing on them. There’s no reason not to do such a story, but I wouldn’t count on that story as meaning that these items are acquired. Most of the “sets” (with the exception of colors) are really paterns, not individual words, so they require much more repetition and many more unpredictible encounters before they’re cemented in the brain.

I always recommend an opening routine for class that includes a very, VERY brisk circling of a “set” item (the date, the weather, whatever), changing these things as the year goes on to make sure you get through many of them, but with enough repetition. They will naturally be proposed for inclusion in stories after they come up in these routines at the start of class.

I also recommend making an actual schedule of “extra” set items, and cold-bloodedly planning on offering them one by one, in a principled and planned manner, throughout the course of the year, as alternative choices for stories. They get circled this way as negative “distractors” if they’re not chosen. That way, you don’t get to the end of the year and realize that you haven’t done enough (clothing words, colors, hair styles, time expressions, weather words, etc.)