In my recent Basic Quest Story blogpost, I recounted my first comprehensible input (Spanish) story from a few years ago, about a sushi-loving T-Rex named “Guácala,” (which means, “Yuk” in Spanish). I have dedicated over 90 minutes of (1st grade) instruction to the drama SO FAR, and the kids show no signs of story fatigue. To be fair, our 3x week 30 minute lessons also include a greeting and leave-taking segment, a circle-time name tag-passing snippet, and at least two brain bursts or breaks, in which the kids get up and move according to my Spanish instructions.
To review, first we nailed the simple story orally over the course of a few class periods and came up with these layered on details, with the help of my very special puppet:
There is a dinosaur. His name is Guácala.
Guácala, the dinosaur is hungry.
Guácala doesn’t like: Pizza, yogurt, steak, bananas, or broccoli. ¡Guácale! [Yuk!]
Guácala likes sushi. Only sushi.
The children heard tons of variations of what the T-Rex likes and doesn’t like, fed the dinosaur, pet him, watched him reject food, exclaimed, “¡Guácala!” with and for him, until they were clear on his dislikes and preference.
Next, I ushered the 1st graders to the chair zone of my classroom, where I have a SmartBoard/screen. There, I showed and narrated a picture story slideshow (which you can access here), ascertaining more personalized details.
Having worked in the community for a long time, I am quite familiar with popular eating and shopping destinations. I incorporated these into the slideshow to model the inclusion of details with group appeal.
On the cover slide, I have a clipart image of Guácala with some sushi, and some ‘thumbs up’ icons, as an opportunity to review the gesture for ‘likes.’
Subsequent slides pair new images with prior oral language. This time, the dinosaur says, “I’m hungry,” and “I love sushi.”
To add episodic repetition and an opportunity for movement in this Basic Quest Story, the dino goes to three different locations to attempt to solve his problem and find sushi. First, he goes to the most popular local family eatery, Little Ricky’s. This restaurant adventure affords the opportunity to try some (cognate) foods Little Ricky’s (LR) has on their menu. Here I ask real questions, whose answers only my 1st grade experts know, like: Do you like LR? Does LR have: Pizza, steak, tortillas, etc.? Does the dino like pizza, steak, tortillas? Does LR have sushi? Does Guácala like LR? Is Guácala happy?
(NOTE: If I so chose, I could have incorporated other forms of travel to LR – i.e. Guácala walks/swims/runs/marches/rides a bus/submarine/motorcycle to Little Ricky’s….more on padding the basic story in a later post?)
Next, I had Guácala go to the local pizzeria, Marco Roma, in search of sushi. Many pre- and emergent readers recognized the restaurant logo from my slide and were therefore able to successfully identify it!
Same treatment as for Little Ricky’s – but an entree list including pizza, salad, spaghetti and ravioli. All cognates.
Finally, Guácala goes (drives his minivan?) to Costco (where all roads lead.) The kids love the very mention of Costco, and glaze over with memories of bite-size samples.
Then comes the $64,000.00 question:
Does Costco have sushi?
It turns out, they do! And lots and lots of it! Guácala is very, very happy! He and his dino friend (Barney) eat and eat and eat…and in the last slide, two dinosaurs are wading and sipping in a shallow lake, because after gorging on sushi, they’re thirsty.
More on more dino shenanigans to come!