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Creative Problem Solving

Here is a painful story (for me and my garden)  of problem solving ...three year old style. Part one:

     Saturday, my twins, David and Kevin, saw me puttering about >(1) in the garden. Pruning, harvesting, and watering a few plants, I did not really take note of their keen observation of myself. To be honest, they seemed completely occupied: running around screaming, punching each other and their younger brother Samuel, playing on the swing set and messing around (2) with dirt. When I brought them inside at the end of the afternoon Maguy, my wife, seemed very pleased that they were covered in caked on mud :-)).    

      The next day, Sunday, I had to prepare for my English lessons and hadn't much time to fool  with the kids. Basically, I threw them outside and hoped for the best. Sam stayed inside with me and played with little toy cars on the floor. Something was nagging  me though. When I looked outside, I saw David and Kevin watering my plants with steaming hot water from a watering can. At the tap, apparently, they turned on only the hot water. Heaven only knows how they did not burn themselves. I guess they are pretty handy (5). But a lot of the plants were drooping or worse.

1. The phrase puttering about as used in this article is closest in meaning to:
A. making earthenware  B. play golf  C. turn the soil   D. do random, unplanned work

2.   The phrasal verb messing around could best  be replaced by:
A. playing  B. goofing  C. dirtying  D. sneaking

3. How would you use to describe the boys outside activities?
A. rambunctious. B. placid  C. shy  D. fortuitous

4. According to ironic passage at the end of the first paragraph, how did his wife feel when the kids came back in the house?
A. inclined  B. appreciative  C. upset D. confused

5. The words pretty handy as used in this passage is closest in meaning to:
A. nearby  B. skillful  C. handsome  D. clumsy

Part Two:

While thankful that they had not injured themselves, I was not happy and confiscated the watering can. I sternly admonished (6) them  to never touch the faucet or the watering can again without my permission. They kept repeating "Yes daddy", or "oui papa" at the right moments. Relieved and certain that all was well, I went inside and worked on correcting papers.

    About an hour and a half later, Maguy asked me if I had given the boys all those empty bottles to play with? "What the heck!" I exclaimed as I went outside. David & Kevin had taken my advice to heart (7) and had not used the faucet nor watering cans. Nooooo, they had found another way to continue to water the plants although this was not clear to me at that moment.. In the garage we keep supplies of milk, fruit juices, canned goods etcetera. They had gone in there and emptied all of the plastic milk bottles and were working on the cartons of fruit juice when I intercepted them. The boys had wasted prodigious amounts of milk. . I thought of  the shambles that was left of my yard, the money poured out on the ground and how you can never understand what drives the minds of a three year olds

     I stood and surveyed the milky mess. Our dog was having a field day , happily digging holes and licking all the plants, trees, and bushes and generally creating havoc. Sam, my youngest, who had followed me out, was very unhappy that I stopped him from playing in the brown creamy morass. Afterwards, I gave the twins an earful (10) on the subject of insane behavior, until I finally figured out what they had wanted to do:  simply, finish the job they had started.


And then I laughed.

6. The verb admonished could best be replaced by
A. warned  B. pretended  C. updated  D. applauded

7. The phrase taken my advice to heart is closest to

A. memorized by rote  B. applied judiciously C. note for note D. sentimentily utilized.

8.Which of the following is NOT mentioned as  being a problem for garden
A. Kevin and David's care  B. hot water irrigation  C. harvesting too early   D. dog laps

9.   The word earful is closest in meaning to:
A. tip  B. rumor  C. small talk  D. rant

10.An alternative title for this story could be:
A. Twinned Milk  B. Boys Life  C. Heartfelt Advice.  D. Thinking Outside of the (sand)Box


Ce texte © 2009-2010 Christopher Yukna - tous droits réservés

Professors and students you are more than welcome to check out the Resource Site for English Teachers   There you will find a lot of interactive quizzes, games, and lessons.
    Professor of English
Ecole des Mines
Department des Relations Internationales
158 cours Fauriel
St.Etienne   cedex 2 FRANCE 
Tel: 33 4