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Puzzles are the basis of this 17th century ‘trick’ poem here illustrated by Ramsingh Urveti: I saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail, published by Chennai’s Tara books. Go to the inspiring BibliOdyssey for more information.

At this stage of the year I really feel we are in this ‘wordy’ research together. Who is leading whom? This feels like joint scholarship. Last night I had several messages from students about base elements that I had left off a common group compiled chart that we are using to help prepare for the inevitable word study test! The base elements I had forgotten were the tenth element students had discovered from the Latin root tangere from when they had researched ‘integrity’ and the ninth, tenth and eleventh related bases stemming from Latin capere: to catch, to hold that students had found when investigating ‘acceptance’!! (More on this in the next posts!)

I love the fact that students are spotting my errors, correcting my work and going beyond my hasty research. It was one of these groups that ‘chatted’ with me online last night about L. valere ‘to be strong’. A few days earlier one student questioned a group’s representation on their ‘tree’ that ‘value’ was a free base element. “Couldn’t ‘ue’ be a suffix? ” To word searcher!! We rapidly eliminated true, blue, imbue and many others.  I then left it with students to think about for a few days. Fast forward to last night’s message from a student… ‘How about fatigable and fatigability? Wouldn’t that prove <-ue> could be a suffix?”

Watch the video clips below as these students share their thinking. Again they have burst into the room to discuss this before school ‘officially begins’!



I thought I knew that words containing the digraph ‘ue’ came via France. Not so with ‘true’ and ‘rue’ both from Old English. Blue seemed to replace Old English blaw, attested in English from 1300 as bleu, blwe from Old French. (Read a really interesting account of the word blue here in Online Etymology Dictionary). However, ‘venue’ and ‘fatigue’ did enter via France. The Latin root of venue is L.venire ‘to come.’ ‘Venue ‘ is attested from the early 14th century, initially meaning an aggressive arrival: ” a coming for the purpose of attack’ and how this has neutralized and extended to refer to a place or location!Words such as convene- convent and convention; intervene and intervention indicate a twin base element. 

‘Fatigue’ is attested first in 1660s as a noun via French fatiguer and a mere thirty years later in the 1690s as a verb. It’s root is Latin fatigare , this root itself perhaps a compound (see Online Etymology Dictionary). Students had spotted fatigable, fatigability last night in the Mac Dictionary, variant forms of fatiguable. An earlier word , now obsolete, fatigate was attested in 1471 (OED) and used by Shakespeare in Coriolanus in 1623:’His doubled spirit Requickened what in flesh was fatigate.’ (OED).  Surely, we all feel- even the skeptical Valentina, this provides evidence that we have found a suffix previously unknown to us. An interesting morning’s work – none of it conducted in the official school work time!

On the other hand towards the end of class today , by way of a review, for the aforementioned test, I asked the following questions. Yes, it’s speeding towards the end of the year, but the responses to these questions are lively, showing the engagement and enthusiasm towards  these puzzles. Students collaborate in small groups and are  excitedly and noisily competitive in ‘cracking the puzzle’:

These noisy, frantic ,enthusiastic videos below are in response to the question:

What do whales, sweat and conspirators have in common? (Check your thinking with the groups below!)




Try this: What do dictionaries, kings who give up power and someone like Hitler have in common?


And student confidence, speed and volubility rises!!!: What links cordiality, bravery and hearts ?


Normally quieter students are leaping to explain! How do a chilli, despicable behavior and an inspector connect?


I was amused by Gabriel’s connection:’And another thing, Red Hot Chilli Peppers were arrested by an inspector!”

How do nasturtiums and torches link?

So what? Why know this stuff?  Listen to Liam’s response that succinctly sums up reasons for word study:


Or consider when wondering about word study, Sarah’s response I came across earlier in the lesson when checking her portfolio for humanities that she is preparing to share with her parents:

Word Study: In the beginning of the year we looked at words and their roots.  We would take our time to focus on one word, to understand that word better.  By looking at these words, it expands our knowledge and gives us new ways to look at words.  The roots of words inspire us and consumes us to learn more.  The words that interested me I made videos for shown below.  Identity ExclusionDesperation.  Looking at words in more depth, by finding their morphemes and related bases, not only helps me understand the words better, but improved my spelling, and made suffixes and prefixes in words more noticeable.  Before 7th grade I had no knowledge about root and morphemes, I never did that before . Now I walk out of class with a high head, feeling like I know everything about words. A piece of work that really made me feel like I proved that is my <e> theroy, and my video.  I saw how powerful words can be, loud words are attention grabbing, smooth words are friendly sounding. One man loved words so much he wrote it in his resumé and inspired me to try; I like words.  That is true, now I like words and I hope I’ll learn more along the way, because as we go into more depth, I go into more depth about myself.’

And to enjoy the poem, see more of Urvetti’s illustrations and have the puzzle revealed then watch this:


Watch this to see the handmade process used by Tara Press: