When I was in the second grade, I received a letter from an old school friend. I opened the envelope to find a letter from her class and a drawing of a boy wearing a colorful tie. The letter went on to explain that I had received Flat Stanley, a school boy who was accidentally flattened by a falling bulletin board. Stanley’s new flattened condition allowed him the luxury of sliding under locked doors and flying through the air as a kite. Perhaps the greatest perk of being flat is that Stanley could now travel the globe for just the price of a stamp. My friend sent me Flat Stanley with the hopes that I would take a picture of Stanley with my class, send her the photo and a letter about my school, and then send Flat Stanley off on another adventure via mail. However, being a second grader with much better things to do, I promptly lost Flat Stanley and my friend’s letter. I hope that my Flat Stanley found the bottom of a dumpster as interesting as Cambodia or Peru could’ve potentially been.
A little history on our friend Stanley; Flat Stanley was a book that was published in 1964 by Jeff Brown. It wasn’t until 1995 that a third-grade teacher in Canada had the idea of using Flat Stanley and his story to create a small culture exchange. Not only does Flat Stanley promote interest in travel and different cultures, it also helps improve reading and writing skills in a fun way. I’m not sure what exactly made me think about my Failed Stanley from back in the 90’s, but it’s interesting to note that he’s still connecting classrooms around the world today. If you’re interested in Flat Stanley or connecting your classroom to others around the world, I highly suggest visiting The Flat Stanley Project. This website will help you arrange an exchange with another school to help continue Flat Stanley’s legacy.
Flat Stanley in Nigeria
Recently I’ve been enjoying teaching my students about portmanteaus. These are similar to compound words (light + house= lighthouse), but the difference is that some letters get cut out from one or both of the words.
Some simple and obvious portmanteaus would be cheeseburger (cheese + hamburger), smog (smoke + fog), and newscast (news + broadcast).
In my research for these lessons I came across several other words that I had no idea were portmanteaus:
- botox= botulism + toxin
- electrocute= electric + execute
- endorphin= endogenous + morphine
- fortnite= fourteen + nights
- gerrymandering= Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry + the perimeter of a districts he created resembled a salamander
- Microsoft= microcomputer + software
- napalm= naphthene + palmitate
- Skype= sky + peer-to-peer
- snark= snide + remark
- Verizon= veritas (Latin for “truth”) and horizon
- vitamin= vita + amine
Perhaps even more interesting is that the name for this lexical phenomenon came from none other than Lewis Carrol, author of the Alice in Wonderland books. That’s what I call surpascinating.
Molasses is a sweet, syrupy product that is created by refining sugar cane. Have you ever heard the simile “slow as molasses in January” to describe someone or something slow-moving? Molasses and similar products (think honey or maple syrup) at room temperature move quite slowly. However, today is the 100th anniversary of a day when molasses didn’t move so slowly; in fact, the sticky goop caused the deaths of 21 people living in Boston, Massachusetts. I’m talking, of course, about the Great Molasses Flood of 1919.
On January 15, 1919, a large tank that stored molasses burst flooding the streets of Boston. The weather had gotten slightly warmer which increased the temperature of the molasses and started a fermentation process. Additionally, the construction of the storage tank had neglected safety testing, such as filling it with water to check for leaks. The storage tank leaked so badly that the company painted it brown to hide the leaks. Nearby residents often scraped the leaking molasses from the tank for personal use. The fermenting gases along with lackadaisical safety testing caused the storage unit to explode sending a wave of molasses up to 25 feet high at some points and causing 2 to 3 feet in flooding. It’s estimated that the molasses flowed at a speed of 56 kilometers per hour which quickly cooled and harden causing great difficulty to free oneself from it’s sticky embrace.
Clean up efforts were a nightmare, with 300 to 400 volunteers using salt water and sand to wash away or absorb the brown goop. Public transportation, handrails, doors and floors were sticky for long afterwards as cleaners tracked molasses with their shoes where ever they went.
So, the next time you want to eat some gingerbread cookies or enjoy some pancakes, pray your molasses doesn’t become murderous.
The offending molasses storage tank in an undated picture. Watch out!
アミックでは新年最初の授業で、皆さんに新年の抱負（New Year’s Resolution）を書いてもらっています。「英検にチャレンジする」、「英語の本を読む」、「単語を頑張って覚える」など、たくさんの意欲に溢れたコメントを頂きました。
実際に英語ネイティブの方はどのようなNew Year’s Resolutionを宣言することが多いのでしょうか？
〇become (more~) 「（もっと～）になる」
Become more active.「もっと活動的になる」
Become more confident and take some chances.「自信を持って何かをやってみる」
Start saving money.「貯金をする」
Start eating healthier food.「健康に良い食生活を始める」
Stop being late.「遅刻をしないようにする」
Stop relying on a dictionary too much.「辞書に頼りすぎないようにする」