All these activities are great fun not just because we say so, but because we actually tested them on the hardest critics: ourselves *big grin* Of course, you’re free to use them as much as you want, and don’t forget to comment!
First of all, let’s break the ice with a warm-up exercise. To get to know each other, take a small paper ball and start a game of catch with the people in class forming a big circle. The one in possession of the ball must pass it to another player only AFTER calling that player’s name. Rough play is strictly forbidden! Remember that this is just for fun, so you get to know everybody. To make things interesting (and risky!) try the game with two paper balls at the same time, and watch out!
After this, make sure that you remember as many names as possible, and kindly ask for the ones you don’t remember. You’ll enjoy the activities and you’ll feel more relaxed once everybody’s names and faces are familiar to you.
Today’s starter activity has to deal with Mini-sagas. They are fun to work with because they are short (50 precise words) and the language is semi-poetic, so we’re free to bend the grammatical rules for a little while. We read a fantastic mini-saga, Perspective by I. M. MacDonald, and we comment on it for a little while. Then, fun person as he is, Tim states that this is our homework for next class: “write your own mini-saga, 50 words exactly” (Write a Mini-Saga). Only Tim could assign us homework when the lesson has barely begun!
Now, it’s time for some deeper activities. Today’s motto is “Love relationships”, and our first battle field in this eternal fight comes from the infamous world of… advertising.
Sometimes it’s fun to see how simple ads change according not also to the one who posts them, or according to the period the ads were written in. As Tim did, get some really old newspapers or magazines and chose some interesting ads from the contacts section. “Educated gentleman seeking” can easily turns with time into “Old chap looking for”, and trying to guess who wrote which advert can get you to amazing possibilities. Then show your students some drawings or pictures from the ones you propose as the people posting the ads, and try to match suitor and intended! Analyze everything: clothes, writing style… Let the student’s imagination run free for a while, you’ll be surprised by their inventive. And it’s a good time to show them some useful words such as bowler hat, wishbone or blazer (Tim’s pics were incredible; caricatures work even better than real person pics).
FOCUS: Another interesting activity working with hypothesis and inventive: select some words from a story (even children’s books are OK). Try not to give your students too many: six or seven that contain all the weight from the plot. Tim selected a story called Tadpole’s promise, but you mustn’t let your students see anything from the text, not even the title, because it can give away too much information. The words Tim provided us with were: tadpole, rainbow, promise, pearl, caterpillar and willow. This is a pre-telling activity, so we had to apply what we already knew: that there was supposed to be a presentation, a conflict and a resolution, and that we had to fill in all the blank spaces with the limited amount of words we had in our possession. It’s incredible how many variants a story can have depending on the participants. A pearl can become a bribe or a magical prop. A tadpole can be a hero or a villain. A rainbow can become a character or somebody’s home.
After you read your story and the original text, try to find a good moral. We reached the conclusion that the best moral for our story was “You shouldn’t ask for too much!”
It’s time for some good re-telling activities. We found out what parts of the story were the presentation (characters meet and fall in love), conflict (they change and cannot keep their promise) and resolution (frog eats butterfly). Make your own list of words and try, from them, to retell the story to your partners. Again, the list must be short. This is a good activity to work on how to extract the best of each text and work on your summaries.
A new photocopy presented us with a Mismatched story. We read a piece of somebody’s journal, apparently, telling us the tortuous love story of a woman who fell in love with somebody below her station, and how she had to submit to her parent’s wishes. The point of view comes from that woman’s son/daughter, but the story we got was all mismatched. We had to put things in the correct order so we could enjoy the story, and we compared this piece with the previous one: from the wrong kind of animals getting together, to the wrong kind of couples getting together. After that, we set to identify the presentation, complication and resolution. We’re getting quite good at that!
A sort of closing activity was a creative writing proposal: we had to change the complication of the story, without minding the resolution (it would be changed further on). Tim really didn’t know what he was asking from us *evil laugh* We managed to turn a simple complication into a mini-saga of misadventures! Everybody was quite proud of their results, even when the heroine turned into things so weird that I think we spooked poor Tim.
NOTE: All these activities are relatively quick and quite easy to prepare, so if you’re in need of some good activities for your pre-telling or re-telling needs, help yourself!
And with this ends Rosa’s account on the last adventure at Master Herdon’s House of Activities. Pardon my mistakes!! See you in two weeks!!