On doing nouns

When introducing structures, I’m more of a verb person.  A verb and the according actions that come out of it seem to be a lot easier to PQA, set up situations with, etc.  With a noun you basically have something–a fork, for example–and there it sits.  You can do various things with said fork (eat, stab your neighbor, flick peas across the room), but there you’re getting back to verbs again to make it interesting. As a result, my target structures and vocab lists are fairly verb heavy and I think that is correct so.

I just came across a picture website, however, that has me thinking of new ways of playing with those nouns.  Toxel.com apparently creates a number of offbeat picture collections for a wide range of nouns. Check out some of the possibilities:



Now we’re talking!  Of course there has to be an airplane fork to fly food into a mouth.  What would happen if that could become a functioning airplane that someone used to fly away from the table if they didn’t like the meal?  Or what about that fan fork used to cool down the food?  If somebody supercharged it and brought it to school in the cafeteria what could happen?  The scary thing is, I’m convinced that my students could come up with much better applications than that.

What’s really helpful about the Toxel site is the list of popular suggestions at the right hand side of the page that provides links to many of their top topics.  Through the magic of cut and paste, I’ll put that here as well.

Because I don’t use a textbook, I see myself gravitating perhaps initially more towards topics like “Tree houses”, “Gadgets” and “Skateboards”, but if you are using a textbook, I can see a lot of topics that would slide nicely into a topical based curriculum to add a little kick on a given day.

Now the trick, of course, is finding a way to go slowly through a series of pictures.  Students always what to go quickly to the next one, so you would be done in five minutes with each of these collections.  The art here is learning how to stretch a collection to take a half hour or more in coming up with situations, finding applications, creating stories out of the objects, etc.  Much easier said than done.  That said, however, it’s nice to have some resources to play off of, and I’m curious where these will lead this upcoming year.


4 responses to “On doing nouns

  1. Love these–lots of good work for visualization!

    When you start getting your usual stream of amazing ideas of specifics and using these, please comment! I always need your specifics to understand. Maybe I’m a concrete thinker, after all!

    The top two links don’t work for me, for some reason.


  2. OK, fixed the links. I’ll detail out lesson plans based on these when they come up as well, but that’s happily still not until September for me :).


  3. The hot air ballons are gooood!


  4. Carol, as I typed in hot air balloons in the search to find what you were talking about (seriously great I agree. I love the cow one), I came across this link that has me thinking I can build a day around it. A photographer in Tokyo using a camera with a very fast shutter speed took pictures of herself after jumping in the air, so it looks like she’s going around levitating everywhere


    A little research yielded then a website where she posts an almost daily photo of her “levitating” here:


    If I can’t spin a story out of this, that’s on me. I’m thinking about teaching the structures “floats”, and “reaches for” and “can’t reach”, and then describing a day in the life of Yowayowa (great name!). I’ll start with showing a picture of Yowayowa floating and we’ll decide why that happens to her. In my level one classes, I’ll just pick out various pictures that illustrate a day in her life (talking on phone, shopping, drinking from drinking fountain, etc.). In my upper level classes we’ll debate whether this is a good or bad thing, and for each picture spin out a mini-scenario (Who is she phoning and why? Can she reach the water in the drinking fountain? How will her teachers at school react? CAN she go down stairs or does she just levitate? Would she always hit her head on the ceiling of an elevator heading down?) Maybe we can put a student who IS Yowayowa in a hotseat and interview her on what she thinks about these events. So many choices…

    It makes me wish I taught Japanese (Veronica maybe?) so she could be a recurring character that you could get some cultural burn off of.


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