Monday, May 2, 2016

Lost Pets

My third graders are talking about pets this chapter.  With most units of study, I like for my students to engage with the language with some sort of authentic resource as well as have them "do" something with the language rather than just memorize words in isolation.  Inspired by an idea I saw on Twitter, I decided to have them not only talk about their pets but write Lost Pet posters.

Target Structures:

¿Cómo se llama?
Mi perro/gato/pez se llama _____.
Es grande/mediano/pequeño.
Es negro/café/blanco/gris. 
(Body part) es _____.
Numbers 1-10

The only truly new things in the target structures is ¿Cómo se llama?, Se llama ____. and the vocabulary perro and gato. Everything else we are spiraling back to. 

We first reviewed all the animals we had learned previously and then I introduced el perro by showing them pictures of my parent's Golden Retriever, Max. We also practiced describing a dog by using Clifford the Big Red Dog. Then students enthusiastically told me about their pets with the help of sentence frames on the board. 

I introduced the idea of Lost Pet posters with some authentic ones I found doing a Google Image search. I put them on the SMART board and with their partner they had to read and answer orally questions about each poster. 

After reading the posters we wrote one together as a group. Now earlier in the month I had found a small stuffed dog named Rocket outside on the sidewalk. I put it on my desk in the hopes that one of the kids would tell me it was theirs. No one came forward but several kids had come up and picked up Rocket and asked about him so it made sense that we wrote our poster about him. But first he had to go missing.

I took a picture, printed out four copies (one for each 3rd grade class) and then hid him in my desk.  I told the students that, "Estoy triste. No sé dónde está Rocket. Necesito escribir un poster para Rocket." So that's what we did.

The students supplied the sentences-I just cleaned them up & wrote them down.

When they asked if he was REALLY missing I told them yes. Although they're old enough that several have accused me of hiding him, I just wink and sadly say "Estoy triste. No sé dónde está Rocket."  (I did add in English that if they did find him they shouldn't move him - he might bite. And that he wouldn't go anywhere they weren't allowed to be or hide under anything they should touch.) Students who can tell me where he is hiding (in the computer lab) will get the recompensa - Chocolate!  The best part is that even though this is a 3rd grade unit of study, since the posters are in the hall I've already had 4th and 5th graders ask me about Rocket and the Art teacher told me she had a kindergartner ask if she could look in her room for Ms. Kennedy's lost puppy.

During the ongoing drama of Rocket my third graders are also writing their own individual posters. They can pick any animal, though I do encourage them to stick with ones we know. Some of them are writing them for pets that are really lost (one of my students lost her cat named Cal Purry - hilarious if you follow Kentucky basketball) for pets that they own now, or for pets they dream up.

Once we finish up our posters it will be nearly the end of the year so we'll wrap it up with Corre Perro Corre and if the weather is nice some Red Light Green Light outside (like we did last year.) Share how you talk about animals and pets in your classroom in the comments below!