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chernobyl zoo 
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Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:21 pm
Posts: 46
Location: Gunma, Japan
Post chernobyl zoo
This is a fun and easy game I play.


To start the students just need paper and something to color with (crayons, pencils, markers).

I usually start with reviews of animals, numbers, and body parts. It is good to also review animal body parts (wings, tails, fins, etc.). Then I might ask them if they have been to the zoo and about what kind of animals they have seen before.

I explain that I went to the zoo yesterday. I explain that I am going to talk about some of the animals I saw, and that I want them to listen and draw the animals. Then I tell them something like this:


“(Yesterday, I went to the zoo.) I saw a kangaroo with two heads.”

The idea is to create odd and mutant animals using the syntax:
“I saw a/an (animal) with (#) (body part)”
“I saw a frog with four eyes.”


If I emphasize the important words (kangaroo, two, heads) most students, or a few, will pick it up without explanation. If not I will take them through the first example by drawing it on the board with them, or writing the sentence out and underlining the important words.

I give the students a set amount of time to draw (usually 2-4 minutes) and then I have them show me their creations. In small classes, we judge which is the cutest or scariest or friendliest or happiest (I pull the superlative out of a hat after they are done drawing). In large classes I wait until the end and let each student submit their best for showing.

Another option to save time is to only let the student who finishes their picture first to be able to show it, and if it resembles what I told them I had seen, they get a sticker.

After students understand the syntax (sometimes I write it on the board), I have them create the animals and talk about them in English for the other students to draw. (Yesterday, I went to the zoo. I saw a ~ with ~.)

Most my students love drawing and love trying to think of crazy mutant animals to have their classmates try to draw. My boys strive to think of the wierdest things they can (such as a shark with 4 butts), and my girls strive to think of the cutest things they can (such as a koala with three bunny ears hugging a bunny with three koala ears). Either way, it makes my students speak in sentences and be creative with English, so I think it can be a pretty good lesson.

It is good for younger students, because it takes vocabulary they know (animals, numbers, and body parts) and combines it into syntactical structures. I especially found it fun for my special ed students, who spend a lot of time studying vocabulary, but don't study a lot of syntax and grammar. This game works with simple vocabulary and fairly simply syntax, and most of my 8 year-old + special ed students have enjoyed it and found it simple enough to understand. With non-special ed students, I have found it successfull from ages 6-12. After 12, it is still fun and entertaining (especially the drawing part) but probably a bit too simple unless you add things to make it harder (i.e. have them lengthen the description part with extra adjectives).


Last edited by Zoro Sensei on Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Mon Nov 17, 2008 4:21 pm
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Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 2:55 pm
Posts: 29
Location: Korea
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Great idea. Very unique and interesting.


Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:00 am
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Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:21 pm
Posts: 46
Location: Gunma, Japan
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Ha, you nearly quoted my special ed assistant teacher exactly... "unique and interesting". Your kids will think it's totally wierd too, but in a good way.


On the same note, I don't actually refer to it as "Chernobyl Zoo" to the students or their parents. I try to make it NOT a lesson in the environment or genetics. It's meant to be silly fun English practice, not to offend conjoined twin kangaroos.

I guess it is kind of ironic that I have the special ed kids laughing at special animals. But I think in their hearts they love the silly animals they create because they are special. I like to think my students and myself see something we sympathize with in the drawings, and that that gives the drawings more meaning than just a normal picture of an animal.

But maybe that's searching too deep. Who knows... try it yourself and see.


Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:36 pm
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