Saturday, February 4, 2012

Super Snail

Last Wednesday, during my final speech group of the day, I played a board game with my students. It’s a simple game. It has a very short racetrack for six colorful, wooden snails. One of the students picked up a snail and started racing him down the track and the others soon followed his example.

 “You can’t make him zip down the track,” I told them. “He’s a snail, after-all!”

Their faces fell and began to get that glazed over look kids often get after a long day of instruction.

So I added, “That is, unless he has super powers.” You should have seen their faces light up. Suddenly they were engaged, fully.

I have to remind you, this group comes to me at the end of the day and focusing is not one of their strengths at the best of times. But they were focused now. All eyes were on me  - and they were very bright.

 “What kind of powers should he have?” I asked.

“A rocket,” one student suggested.

“What shall we name him?”

“I know, I know,” The student’s hand was waving frantically. “Lady Bug!”

“But he’s a snail,” I said. “Are you sure that name captures his personality?”

Another student’s hand shot up. His eyes went wide and he said, “Bumble Bee! Let’s call him Bumble Bee.”

At first I wondered, what they could be thinking, but then I remembered the book, Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy by David Soman and Jacky Davis. This story has been very popular with the younger set around our school. In fact, the students have been introducing the book to their teachers. I can see the appeal - a playground adventure where imagination turns two young friends into super heroes. With bug-wings, they zoom around to save the world from scary monsters and terrifying robots. It’s no wonder kids enjoy the entire series.

In the end, (even though I thought Shelly was a girl’s name) he became:

Shelly the snail
with a rocket tail.
Who zipped and zapped
but never, ever napped.
Who slimed and climbed
Over words that rhymed . . .
                                  you get the idea.

Now if I were to analyze this speech session, I’d have to say the kids were so engaged they were saying their target sounds more frequently than usual. They didn’t even mind when I stopped them to correct their errors. And if we look at the content standards, we touched on phonemic awareness, building vocabulary, comparing and contrasting,  rhyming and following directions (or not).

At the end of the session, I had a hard time scooting these kids out the door – and the school day was over. I wouldn’t be surprised if, when I see them next, I’ll be hearing of Shelly the Snail’s weekend adventures.


  1. This is great! What better way to engage tired kids than to give them back the power of their creativity and imagination. And so interesting they pulled in characters from a book they know and love. Takes the "lesson" out of the lesson.


  2. I think that the students gain so much when they are actually creating something. It is very valuable for them to work with someone who loves building with words. It would be a good exercise to take the five vowels and put them in words like flapped, flepped, flipped, flopped and flupped. The children need a system to explore the richness of words. Keep up the very imaginative teaching!

  3. It sounds like a fun class Jeanette!

  4. Thank you! I must admit - it is fun for me and I hope it is fun for my students as well.