The Blends Project

Anybody else get this in their head while doing the Blends project?

For those of you who don’t have a first grader at my kid’s school, the Blends Project is 30% of their grade. Basically, the teacher gives you a list of 20 “blends” – blends are letter combinations, such as “br” and “ch.” The kids have to come up with four words for each blend (CH: Choir, Chorus, Chorizo, Chair). Then, the kids have to draw or cut out pictures representing each of the words. Each cutout must be of a size that it will fit into one fourth of one 20th of a large piece of poster board. Confused? Yeah, the kids are supposed to divide their poster board into 20 equal parts, and each of those parts will contain four pictures. The pictures are then labeled with the name of the word they represent.

Note that I say “the kids” are supposed to be doing all of this. As if kids in first grade can do all of this. Me? I am lucky, in that my kid learned all his blends two to three years ago, so he had no problem coming up with his own words. (Don’t even get me started on the fact that they are not differentiating this project at all for the kids who are strong readers and already know their blends.) Other parents are not so lucky – they have to help their kids figure out four words for each blend.

What ends up happening is that the parents then go to the computer and google clipart that corresponds to the word. Then they print it all out for the kid to cut out. Then the parent has to divide the squares on the poster board. (I mean, come on! How many first graders could figure that out?)

So, basically, if the kids don’t know their blends yet, then the parents end up doing half the work. Even for my kid, who knows his, I end up having to do the clip art portion (took me TWO HOURS last night to google, and cut and paste, and print, the 80 images.) The plus to this is that Rollie and I spent some quality time together. By quality time, I mean that he and i did the images, while Tiller cried under the computer desk, rolling around at my feet, wailing about how bored she was, and I didn’t finish my laundry.

A negative to this whole thing might be that my son did not learn a DAMN thing. Oh! Except for the following “enlightening” images that came up while searching for words he already knew how to spell.

Interesting things that come up on Google Images while searching for pictures of words for Blends project:

drug (people smoking pot, shooting heroin, laying passed out next to an open and spilled bottle of pills with a bottle of bourbon in hand, pot leaf, bong, bag of weed, cartoons with needles hanging out of people’s arms.)
brown (pile of poop, naked African American woman, James Brown mugshot)
Drown (pictures of drowning victims, scary illustrations of drowning people)
Drink (OH GOD, Alt+Tab!)
frenzy (wolves tearing apart some animal, creepy cartoons with people foaming at the mouth, zombie melee)
prank – (one KKK poster, a rear end mooning the camera)
glowstick (rave photos, symbols of hands holding glowsticks up in the air, Rollie: “What’s a rave?”)
spank (Are you kidding me? Me: Don’t you want to pick another word? That one is kind of negative. Rollie: Why? It’s just hitting on the bottom? Me: sigh. Ok. [praying as i hit google], Oh, no, that one is not good. Rollie: Mama, what is? Me: Don’t worry about that one, honey.)
spa (who knew there were so many asian “spa” pictures online?)
blonde? (I don’t even need to describe what came up for this one, right?)
Slip (lots of disturbing photos and cartoons about the band slipknot. R: Mama, what is a slipknot? Me: A kind of knot. R: For putting around your neck?)

Gee. Education is great.


  14 comments for “The Blends Project

  1. Doug
    November 16, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    You might want to change your google to “safe search” mode.

  2. November 16, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Hate projects like that, it teaches nothing and just frustrates both the kids and the parents. I have not run into that yet, thankfully. One thing that has helped us, our school has a search engine that we can access thru our Media Center website that is kid appropriate, so you don’t have to worry about what you guys found. Hope you (and Rollie!) get a good grade…..

  3. November 16, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    I absolutely refuse to be involved in my kid’s homework like that. Thankfully, the one teacher that still held on to those sorts of projects has been ‘reassigned’ within the school system.

    I can’t even be bothered to sign off on her homework. Don’t you see she did it? Then why do I have to be involved? And that usually takes care of that problem.

  4. November 16, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Doug, I appreciate that, but it would interfere with my evening internet perusal. 🙂

  5. November 16, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Dorothy, I am not really worried about the stuff he comes across. Mostly I wanted to bitch about what a stupid waste of time it was, and how I am starting to worry that the school is completely going to fail my kid.

    What is this sign off on homework stuff, Becky? We don’t do that. . .

  6. Lauren
    November 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    oh i am crying laughing over here. Suddenly very happy that we are using Microsoft Word images— pretty darn clean. I hope i made the images small enough (though we’re just past the 50% mark).

    It’s pretty stupid, i agree. I bet somewhere, someone is getting benefit from this. Perhaps to some extent mine are (they’re using their dictionary when needed) and they’ve witnessed some EXPERT Word skills on my part to insert page breaks, change text wrapping and images sizes. Surely that will come in handy at some point, right?

  7. Scott
    November 16, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    I wonder if you got the same PSA poster that I did when you Googled images of “drink”… I had to look.

  8. November 16, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    The start of every school year comes with instructions and a spot to sign off on where I see my kid did her homework on every last worksheet they send home. I’m sure this is meant to engage the parents who aren’t involved, who don’t show up at school 3 times a week, who aren’t ‘staff’ for the pto newsletter, and plan every last party her class has ever had.
    The big one is signing off that she reads 20 minutes every night. Spend 5 minutes talking to her and you can just TELL that kid reads more than 20 minutes a day. I mean, she just finished Anne of Green Gables and called it the book she’s ‘felt’ the most. And she’s 8. So, I carefully explain to the teacher at the beginning of the year that she will soon discover my child is the most responsible member of our family and I don’t sign off on her homework. Her teacher this year took longer to understand this than in previous years, but by our parent teacher conference just after Halloween, she had it figured out.

    What about the kids who’s parents DON’T have a computer at home? What do they do? What about the kids who’s parents don’t help them with this assignment? The assumption that all kids have the same advantages and helicopter parenting bugs me to no end.

    And yes, it absolutely gets in the way of my evening fb and blog commenting time.

  9. November 16, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    @lauren – not to rub it in, but we are done. D-O-N-E. Done.

  10. November 16, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    @ scott – not everyone who gets hit by a drunk driver dies? YEp, told rollie that one was a halloween mask, because I just didn’t want to have to go into it.

    Not to mention then every time todd or i had a beer and got in the car, I was worried the kid would freak out.

    @becky – tell us how you really feel. No, i agree. it is nuts.

  11. November 17, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I’m off my soapbox now. Thanks.

  12. leelee
    November 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    What’s helicopter parenting? That sounds like fun.

  13. November 17, 2010 at 6:39 pm


    Helicopters hover, Lisa.

  14. leelee
    November 18, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Oh!!! LOL!!! My idea of helicopter parenting sounded better.

    I also liked this idea of not checking homework.

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