Create the Perfect Pet
This is a good activity for a number of learning or application situations. It is a version of an "El Monstruo" activity I use in my Spanish I class. The students are instructed to create a monster in a paragraph or even a short story. This activity allows students to work with new vocabulary. It is also a good way to practice using verbs and adjectives in Spanish, as well as giving students the opportunity practice writing basic sentences and simple paragraphs. One can use it to encourage conversation in the target language in a group situation, and even allow students to apply their art skills. It lends itself well to group work.
The activity can be adapted for other language disciplines as well. In an advanced foreign language classroom, one can review future conditional and subjective verbs.
In the composition or creative writing class, it can be a fill-in activity, or a creative writing activity. It will also give some the opportunity to put their artistic talent to work. I have found it a good way to encourage conversation and collaboration.
MATERIALS NEEDED Paper, pens or pencils, colored pencils, crayons or markers. Magazine or clip-art pictures can also be used.
Step 1 Brain storm Students are first instructed to brainstorm and free write or use clustering to imagine the perfect pet. In a group situation (no more than 3-4 in a group, please), each member is to consider one aspect of the animal. One may come up with the physical characteristics-the head of a lion, the feet of a duck, etc. Another may be assigned the personality traits-cuddly, loves people, intelligent . . .. Still another might look for the special abilities-can run 60 miles an hour, easily house-trained, can talk etc.
Step 2 Collaborate & write The group will discuss the various traits and decide which ones will make up their pet. Each person may be take turns or one person can be assigned to write down the description as decided by the group, another may be asked to draw the animal as it is described. (One person will be the spokesperson) After a few minutes each group is asked to share their pet with the rest of the class. A fourth person may be asked to give feedback about the overall project. (How the group felt about it, what they learned, etc.)
SAMPLE OF MONSTER ACTIVITY
(designed for a high school creative writing class)
I. INDIVIDUAL ACTIVITY
A. We are going to create a monster. You may use any of the magazines to create a "cut and paste" monster, or you may use crayons and draw your monster. (15 minutes)
B. When you have finished with your picture, make a list of physical descriptions, personality traits, and abilities and actions that describe your monster abilities (does it have superhuman strength? Able to run faster than any animal . . .? (10 minutes)
C. Write a paragraph describing your monster, drawing words and phrases from this list (you don't have to use them all). Share your drawing and description with the class: Show your picture and read your description to the class (15 minutes)
II.GROUP ACTIVITY. Divide class into groups of 3-4. Each member of the class is assigned a particular part of the body (Arms, legs, head, trunk, --only parts that are suitable to be presented in class, please) The group will then put the monster together and discuss description. The group then brainstorms about its description. One member can list physical characteristics, another its personality traits and a third can list its abilities and possible actions. The group then writes a paragraph using many of these traits. Each person can be responsible for writing 2 or 3 sentences and passing it around the group until it is completed to their satisfaction. Or, if the group is fairly responsible, two can dictate ideas, and one can write the paragraph based on the discussion. They can discuss and revise the paragraph as they go. (The time frame can be modified to accommodate the class, group, or schedule) Have each group share their monster.
This can also be a good starter for a short story. It is also a good way to teach description and characterization.
Keen pointed ears one brown bearlike claw ten feet tall
Malicious grin muscular torso of a bull feet of a bear
scaly complexion thick, lizard like forehead one green claw
Nauseous green muscular legs needle sharp pale green fangs
Head of demon mammoth arms
Vicious, demonic, bloodthirsty, coldhearted, terrifying, murderous cunning
Actions and abilities
Sneaks up on victims sucks their blood runs faster than a cougar.
strikes like a cobra roars in victory snarls viciously
crushes victims with powerful arms that can crush a grizzly bear to death,
This ten-foot creature has the head of a demon with a nauseous green face, thick lizard-like forehead and malicious grin. His angry, glowing red eyes bore holes in all who dare to face his cold-hearted and terrifying stare. His massive, hairy red and green torso resembles that of a giant bull. He is faster than a cougar. He is demonic. He is bloodthirsty. He is cunning. He sneaks up on his victim, then strikes like a cobra, snarls savagely, then grabs and crushes his captive with his powerful, mammoth arms--arms that could squeeze a two thousand-pound grizzly to death. Once the beast has rendered the poor soul helpless, he roars in victory, ferociously rips the skin from his prey with his large bear claws, sinks his needlelike fangs deep into its neck and sucks the very lifeblood out of the unfortunate quarry.
Creative writing project
(When used in a high school writing class, the writing may be more complex and creative. The student may be asked to stretch his or her creativity)
(For this project, the student may be asked to write a brief description using only vocabulary with which he or she is familiar. The paragraph will be shorter and simpler)
El monstruo tiene una cabeza verde con ojos verdes y un cuerpo grande. Las brazos son verdes y rojos. Las manos y las piernas cafes son como las del oso pardo. Tiene cara verde y dientes puntos y grandes como el tigre. Le gusta sangre. Es mas rápido que el puma. Se llama Sr. Smith No me gusta este monstruo.