Do you know anybody who does not like story telling? I don´t. Especially children. When you announce the class you are going to tell the story, pupils´ curiosity and attention grow immediately.
Would you like to know the story that I like to tell during my English lessons at different levels of English? So, make yourself comfortable and listen carefully. A story “Sitting in my Box” is written by Dee Lillegard: Sitting in my box. A tall giraffe knocks. “Let me, let me in.” So I move over. Sitting in my box. An old grey elephant knocks. “Let me, let me in.” So we both move over. Sitting in my box. A big baboon knocks. “Let me, let me in.” So we all move over. Sitting in my box. A grumpy lion knocks. “Let me, let me in.” So we all move over. Sitting in my box. A hippopotamus knocks. “Let me, let me in.” So we all move over. Standing in my box. There’s no room to sit. “Wait a minute! This box has too much in it.” “Someone has to go.” “Not me.” “Not me.” “Not me.” “Not me.” “Not me.” Sitting in my box. Along comes a flea. A flea never knocks. He jumps right in. He bites the hippo and the grumpy lion. He bites the baboon and the old grey elephant. He bites the tall giraffe. That’s why I’m sitting in my box. Just me.
My own children, Pavol (4yrs) and Lucia (2,5yrs), love this story and they like to say some parts with me when I read it for bedtime. Their favourite part is when the animals are arguing “Not me, not me, … “ and they enjoy when I change my voice according to the strength of the animals. The monkey has got a very squeaky voice, the hippopotamus the deepest one and the lion the strongest. They even wait every time for the exciting moment when I scare them to tears when the flea suddenly jumps in a box. They were even more pleased when I came to the kindergarten and have read the story in front of their friends. For these occasions, I have the story drawn on big posters without texts.
At the lower grades I use the story for introducing the zoo animal vocabulary and additional adjectives (perfect suit for the student book Family and Friends 1, unit 11). I start the lesson by asking children what they might think I have brought in the box. Children’s typical guesses are: a toy, a teddy, sweets, etc. After a few wrong guesses I open the box and pretend something came out of it, and it jumps, and it is on somebody´s desk, then it´s on somebody´s shoulder, etc. Finally, I ask someone to bring it over and I put it back in the box. Meanwhile the students have figured out the answer and I write correct answer on the board: The Flea. And after that I announce the story about the flea and other animals. Sometimes I change the vocabulary a little so it works according to the student book´s unit. After the story I put the animal pictures on the board one by one and I write the adjective and noun animal next to the animal picture, children do so in their exercise books as I have mini cards of the animals for each one of them, they colour them, glue them and write the expressions. Then I read the story for the second time and children say the animal parts with me. But the funniest part comes at the end of the lesson when children pretend to be the animals. We play the “chair” game. I divide class into the five groups: monkeys, elephants, lions, hippos and giraffes. Children bring their chairs and we make a circle, one animal stays in the middle. I play some animal songs and when the music stops, animals have to switch the sits. The animal who did not find a chair is out of the game. One chair is taken away by each round. The animal who lasts the longest is the winner and we give him/her great applause.
For older students I use the story for creative writing purposes. I also use the box in the beginning of the lesson for involving children into the topic. Although, the focus is given rather on a box than on a flea. Here I ask students: What comes in a box? And they write their guesses on the board. And after a few guesses (TV, cereal, present, equipment, etc.) students really enjoy the surprising moment when I un-wrap the big sized box and they get to see nothing as only a flea jumps out of it. In consequence, I tell them the story of one box, I stop the story when the flea gets in a box because later I am going to ask children to finish the story. Before second reading, I encourage students to think of a title for the story. I state students´ ideas on a board, e.g. The magic box, The animal story, etc. Afterwards, students are asked to write each character from the story on the board (boy, giraffe, elephant, baboon, lion, hippopotamus, flea) and in pairs they brainstorm as many quality adjectives for each noun as they can. Later they will present their research on the board and the others can share their ideas, for example:
A boy - smart, wise, clever, handsome, young, long-haired, surprised, etc.
A giraffe – giant, tall, spotty, cocky, bigheaded, lengthy, long, gentle, etc.
An elephant – aged, old, shabby, massive, heavy, messy, dirty, friendly, helpful, etc.
baboon – cheeky, silly, saucy, crazy, dizzy, ignorant, hairy, greedy, noisy, etc.
lion – grumpy, nervous, fearful, horrible, mighty, bossy, sturdy, strong, bushy, etc.
hippopotamus – enormous, big, gross, fat, heavy, grey, dirty, etc.
flea – quick, energetic, impatient, bitsy, tiny, clever, wise, foxy, etc.
In a spare time I have a copy of crossword puzzle “What comes in a box” for each student and at first they are asked to cross out three words: gift, present, surprise. Only then to search for other words that come in a box. As for the homework, students finish the story and as for the followed-up activity, students present their stories and their classmates decide which one is the most creative. And of course, students are extremely curious how the story ends in the original book. So I get to read it for the third time.
You might not believe but I have used this story also for my geometry lessons. Well, that would be the topic for another article.
Dear readers, have fun with storytelling during your lessons, I did really enjoy them.
Autor: PaedDr. Marcela Bolibruchová, PhD.
(a winner of Super článok 1)