One day a few weeks ago, my storyline developed into a boy had a big zit bigger than an elephant and he was sad. Jessica Simpson loved him and kissed his zit. I didn't have any idea the story would go there. When we got the actors, it of course added interest but the story started out fairly interesting to that class.
My Junior High Students filled out a questionnaire at the beginning of this semester and I wanted to get some more ideas of things to talk about in class with them using the language. I also have seen that the more we can personalize the stories around them, the more interesting it is and silly it gets. Of course, we must remain in the realm of not making fun of the students.
In one of Ben Slavic's books, he talks about using a student's pet as a character in the story. Only, he starts the story with: "___ has a guinea pig." And then he talks about how they have a mean guinea pig, etc. It develops into a character and even though that person's guinea pig isn't any of those things, it makes the story more interesting to the class.
Sometimes we want to make fun of something in Spanish but it can't be the students. So how can we make fun to learn description words without hurting students' feelings? That's where pets can come in. My students learned the word "fat" pretty quickly because I always talk about my fat cat, Felipe. Sometimes I might even teach the word "Smelly" with him. Or "stupid" can also work because I'm not talking about a person.
So I tried this out with a student. I wanted to practice the structure "Had." So I read their questionnaires and looked for pets that we haven't learned the names of yet. Then I started the story out with "____ had a hamster" instead of "there was a hamster." It worked out well. I went along with Ben Slavic's idea of describing the hamster as mean and seeing where that is going. Then I practiced the structure "s/he wanted to have" and it turned out the mean hamster wanted to have a car. So he went to a competition in McDonald's where he ate 104 Bic Macs. The purple Teletubbie only ate 103.9 Big Macs. I got some repetitions of "s/he won" in there, which was my third structure and then they finished the story with the Purple Teletubbie eating the hamster.
A student told me that she wanted to be a part of the story. She's quiet but her eye-contact is great and I can tell she is picking up the language through quizzes and occasional comics and other things. So I decided to incorporate her into the story. There was only one problem, the structure I wanted to practice was "s/he lost." Well, no big deal. I looked at her sheet and saw she had a frog. So we talked about her ugly weak frog with 1000 eyes who wanted to have 9 sexy girl flies. He went to a competition in Jersey shore and jumped low. A beautiful penguin jumped higher and won. The frog lost. He was sad.
The interesting thing was the class loves these things as well as the inside jokes later that are created just for us. When I reminded them that the students' hamster was dead, we pretended to be sad for her. I love it.
So if I get stuck in a storytelling rut, fictionalizing pets is a good way to make a story more fun.