Thursday, 19 May 2011

Bend it, shape it, any way you want it

I have a very low boredom threshold.  I'm always looking for something different to try in the classroom, for different ways of doing things. 

With my second-year Spaniards (Years 4, 5 and 6) I am working towards an extended piece of writing where the children design their own strange animal and describe it in Spanish.

We've been working on parts of the body and animals.  I used Switcheroozoo to make some strange animals, and we made sentences to say which body parts of which animals they had.  For example, for this one we wrote:
Tiene la cabeza de un oso.
Tiene el cuerpo de una tortuga.
Tiene la cola de un perro.

My normal way forward would be to have them draw their animal and then write their description underneath.  But I've been there and done that, and, more importantly, so have the children.

Then recently I was tidying daughter no.1's bedroom, which involved finding a space for more of her Plasticine Menagerie.  Perhaps using Plasticine or Play-Doh would be an alternative to drawing?

I asked the MFL Twitterati if anyone had experience of using Play-Doh in the classroom:

So there were definitely some possibilities.  I managed to get 40 pots of Play-Doh for £15 from Argos and decided to get the children to model their strange creatures. 
By this point daughter no.1 had run out of animals to make with Plasticine, so I set her a Plasticine Challenge.  I gave her the list of animals that I'd taught the children at school and asked her to make some strange creatures with different body parts from the different animals.  I then showed these to the children and asked them to put together some opinion sentences to say which animals they thought the creatures were made from.  They were highly motivated to do this, and put together many successful sentences using this writing frame.  This allowed them to see the sort of thing we were aiming for, so I then handed out the Play-Doh and they set to work.  I photographed their handiwork before they scrunched it up and put it back in the pot.
There are a few different things that we could do now.  I could give each child a picture of a creature that they didn't make and they could put together some opinions about it.  Or they could simply write about their own.  Or it could be a speaking assignment.  I haven't decided yet.  I'll put it on the school blog when it's done.
While I was planning this lesson, I did a search for other ideas for using Play-Doh in lessons.  There is very little out there!  There are some things on the Play-Doh website and some pre-school ideas here.  I'd be really interested to hear your ideas for using Play-Doh, because now I've bought it, I need to get my money's worth!!