Back to school “SOY YO”

If you took a vacation under a rock then maybe you have not heard of Bomba Estéreo’s AWESOME song “SOY YO”

In fact I know I am late to the game creating plans for this song

Sometimes I start the year with the same lesson plans for 6th-8th grade with little modifications between classes. It is unifying for them across classes, and makes an easier beginning of the year for me. This year I choose to start the year with the song “SOY YO.”

So what did I do?

First few days:

I projected Niki Tottingham story of the music video. 

  • I went through each slide. If I had a new student with NO SPANISH experience then at the end of each slide we translated the whole slide into English. Otherwise I would spot check a few words here and there. I focused on the phrases:
    • soy yo
    • no se preocupa

I didn’t get through the whole story in one lesson because I had administrative beginning of the year stuff to do with them. Also I didn’t want to rush it. They started to lose interested after 5 slides so I would stop and move to something else.

  • At the end of each story reading session, I would show the video (and to avoid mutiny.)
  • When I finished the whole story we watched the video again.
  • I passed out the lyrics to the chorus. One side had the lyrics in Spanish and the other side was blank. As a class we translated the chorus into ENGLISH and wrote it in the blank box. I started the translating with what they knew. Then I translated the rest for them.
  • We listened to the video again. Students had to sing along during the chorus OR follow along with their finger on their sheet as they listened. (I sang…loudly…with dance moves)


PDF version of image above HERE

  • Lastly I had students discuss in groups how they would translate the phrase “SOY YO” into English not literally but in the message the artists wanted to communicate. We discussed these translations and wrote them on cards for my bulletin board later.


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  • I had students draw their name on a half sheet of card stock. They had to incorporate 2-3 things that described them. It could be a hobby, interest, or a favorite food/book/movie. It could be ANYTHING they wanted their classmates and I to know about them. (Learned this from Ben Slavic And Tina Hargaden- CARD TALKS)
  • I showed them my example first. (I quickly explained what I choose to incorporate but I didn’t do a long presentation in Spanish. That is for later.)


  • Then the class got to work on their own drawings while we listened to music. I walked around asking questions and commenting on their work. Students could use technology to look up how to draw different things if they wanted.
  • ON THE BACK- they had to translate (using a online dictionary- after a quick lesson of how to use dictionary for good and not evil) their 2-3 things. They could write it in complete sentences -I like sushi.- OR just the important part –videojuegos = video games- (This made my job easier when we discussed the cards later.)


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What now?

  • Then we discussed the cards one by one. (I started with my own to give them an example.) I chose one student at a time and asked them questions about what they drew. I had 2 student jobs during these interviews
    • Summarizer- This student wrote down the information that we discussed in class in English, Spanish OR a mix of the two.
    • Quiz Maker- I had a student write True/False statements with the answer at the end of the statement. I had the student write 10-12 person knowing I wouldn’t use all the statements.
  • The day after we finished an interview I either…
    • had the students read independently or in partners the information typed up in Spanish by me beforehand.
    • OR I had groups write in English or Spanish what they remembered about that person’s interview then I wrote/typed up the information in Spanish to then give them to put in their folder.
  • I am trying something new this year. Not sure yet if I will like it. I have groups pick 3-5 vocabulary words/phrases from the information to add to their dictionary in their folder. It has to be IMPORTANT words/phrases to the student interview reading AND words/phrases that we don’t know well or are brand new. I use Martina Bex’s dictionary page on TPT HOWEVER I use it differently than her plans.
    • The students write the word/phrase in SPANISH and ENGLISH
    • In the first box they write a sentence from the student reading that uses the word/phrase.
    • The second box is an illustration of that sentence.

** See Martina’s blog post with FAQs for more information on her approach)

  • I gave them a TRUE/FALSE quiz after every 2-3 student interviews.

Finally – OPTIONAL Bulletin BOARD


  • I make color copies of the students name drawings and staple to the bulletin board along with the cards the students used to describe their group’s translation of the phrase “SOY YO.”
  • Here are the large SOY YO letters from my bulletin board which I printed on card stock, cut out and laminated.

** These interviews were inspired by Bryce Hedstrom’s “La Persona Especial”


Name Game Gold: Kindergarten Edition

So every year I get a new batch of 5 year olds. The most pressing issue for me on Day One is learning names. This summer I created a game for the beginning of the year.

This game is the main activity for Class ONE of my unit Me gusta which is an introductory unit for the year targeting Pre-K through 2nd grade. 

Here is Class One Lesson Plans as it is written in my unit. Below that is my reflection on Class One for me.

UNIT 1- Me gusta PLANS Class ONEUNIT 1- Me gusta PLANS Class ONE (2)


* Use the phrase “se llama” – his/her name is (he/she calls himself/herself)

* Learn everyone’s name

* Use action words like – salta (jumps), baila (dances), camina (walks), mira (looks at) etc.

  • So I started by telling my students in Spanish / English “Tengo un secreto” (I had them lean in to hear. – a trick I learned at Tina and Ben’s workshop) I told them that I have a magic box, and the magic box knows their names. “It may look like a plain cardboard box but it is isn’t. Don’t be fooled” I told them.
  • Then I had my most wiggly student come up and pull his name “NO MIRES” (Don’t look!) otherwise the box will know, and it won’t work.
  • He walks up to the box, and chooses a card. It is a girl name. I announce to the class “Se llama Ella Kate.” The class erupts into giggles and disagreement. After making sure that this is not his name, I wonder out loud why it didn’t work “no funciona”. I ask who has that name. I give her the card and the class says “Hola, Ella Kate”
  • I had other students try, and it continued to fail. I started to get pretend frustrated and I pretended to cry. “¿Por qué no funciona?” “Why won’t it work?” (I translate things for them since they are absolute beginners.)
  • Then I took suggestions of how to make the box work. A students suggested shaking the box. So I had the whole class stand up and shake with me. “La clase sacude.” Then we tried again. It didn’t work. I took suggestions from other students and turned them into mini TPR sessions (shake high, shake low, shake fast, shake slow) We jumped, danced, turned in circles, and talked to the box sweetly.
  • Then a brilliant student suggested we LOOK in the box. I walk over to him. “¿Mira?” He looks in the box and finds his name. He raises it as if he has found gold. The class cheers. I am so happy because “La caja mágica funciona.”
  • I let every student with a name still in the box find their name by LOOKING (“mira”) in the box. Each one celebrating their name.
  • It is time to go back.

45 minutes. 1 plain cardboard box. 21 pieces of paper with their names on it.

What did that make? GOLD!!

“CI without stress” Elementary Adaptations

I attended Ben Slavic and Tina Hargaden “Ci without Stress” workshop a few weeks ago in Atlanta. I had seen many of you who have attended their workshop this summer, and I was excited to see it for myself.

For those of you who have not read their book A Natural Approach to Stories I highly recommend it.  Whether you are adding tools to your teaching toolbox or adopting the whole program, I think all CI teachers can benefit from their book. It is a refresher in why we teach the way we do, and great CI activities.

Tina and Ben teach/taught middle school and high school language learners. So their methods are naturally targeted at those audiences.

On the second day, I was with some of my Chattanooga CI group and some elementary teachers are the workshop for lunch. We discussed how we could use the same methods we had learned in our own elementary classroom.

***If you live near Chattanooga and would like to join our PLC then email me. We would LOVE to have you!

Here are some of the things we discussed we would want to adapt for our elementary students.

Ben & Tina’s Classroom Rules

In the book and in the workshop Ben and Tina used 6 rules. I plan on using these rules in my room this year. They communicate exactly what I want students to understand about my expectations.  But as a group we felt that they needed a little “elementary make-over” to word the rules in a way our little language learners could understand. Here is what we came up with:




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Again you can get more information about this rules and the meaning behind them in Tina and Ben’s new book A Natural Approach to Stories.

Here is the PDF of the images above.

Questions to build imaginary characters

If you have seen Tina Hargaden’s posts and videos on her YouTube channel. Then you are familiar with the invisibles.

The invisibles start with a number of questions that choose between two opposite characteristic traits. Here is the traits they highlight below.


Tina and Ben chose these traits because they build characters with depth and purpose which make for compelling stories.

As a group of elementary teachers including the WONDERFULLY talented retired elementary teacher Jennifer Raulston, we discussed that these character traits are PERFECT for the middle and high school student, but elementary students might need some adaptations.

Our thought in changing some of the traits where in response to the emotional and mental development of our students. So we took the purpose of the traits along with some of the other things we learned from Tina and Ben and came up with a slightly different list. You will notice that the descriptions ABOVE the line DO NOT change, but the character traits BELOW the line are different.


What color?



Biggest Fear?

Favorite thing (to eat, to do, or object)



Student Jobs

Student jobs are an AWESOME way to give students responsibility in the classroom, reduce teacher workload, and give students ownership to a character and/or story. Ben and Tina have a list of important jobs for students during a story with detailed descriptions on what the student does and how to set up your room to use these jobs to their full potential. (read their book for more info)

When a student is doing their job then they are required to do at least 2 things at the same time: process the comprehensible input of the story or character AND complete their job responsibilities.

When we discussed student jobs as elementary teachers we felt that student jobs were difficult to pull off in the elementary setting especially the younger the student. We fear that students don’t have the mental ability to multitask in this way.

So what do you do? …

THE ARTIST- One idea that Elijah Barrera suggested was while creating an invisible character the teacher is the artist instead of a student.

  • You could turn the easel away from the students and as you are drawing you repeat the descriptions (maybe even getting it wrong sometimes so students can “correct” you.)
  • You could put on a beret and/or take on a different personality as “THE ARTIST”

This saves the REVEAL as a compelling activity. Students are invested and still excited.

VIDEOGRAPHER- I wonder if you could turn this into a PHOTOGRAPHER. Then as you retell the story. You pause and call on the photographer to take a picture. (Doesn’t every kid know how to use a camera on a phone or iPad?) This would solve three problems:

  • ONE – They don’t have to decide how to film a story.
  • TWO- You are pausing a story to let them do their job so they can pay attention because their job essentially stops when you are telling the story.
  • THREE- You still have visuals to use when retelling and reviewing the story


Professor #2 (Annabelle Allen had some interesting insights to what she does in her room with this job. She doesn’t use a Profesor #2 or second teacher as she calls it. See her post HERE.


Story Driver


So what are your thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?

Do you plan to adapt Tina and Ben’s ideas for your classroom? In what way and why?


¡NO, NO, NO, PICASSO! – art lesson in the Target Language

When I saw this post by Señora Speedy I was SO excited to do this.

Picasso Portraits – Integrating Art & World Languages

After the unit “El rey no tiene una boca” I introduced Picasso and his work. Below are the lesson plans from my 1st-2nd grade classes. I think it could be adapted for an older group too.


TPR- Pinta (pretend to paint) – grande, pequeño, rápido, lentamente, Pinta un perro, pinta los ojos, pinta la nariz etc. Pinta a Jacob, pinta los ojos ¿De que color son los ojos de Jacob? Pinta los ojos cafés

PQA- Clase, ¿Te gusta pintar? ¿Te gusta dibujar? (translate pintar and dibujar on board)  No puedo pintar muy bien. ¿Puedes pintar muy bien? Oh sí, Nicolas es un artista. (translate artista on board). ¿Tu eres un artista? etc. ¿Te gusta dibujar a las personas? No puedo dibujar a personas. No puedo dibujar la cara. (I start drawing a face on the board badly describing each part.) ¿Puedes dibujar una cara? (Students have paper & pencil or whiteboards) ¿Puedes dibujar una cara en 3 minutos? ¡¿Puedes dibujar una cara en 1 minuto? ¿Puedes dibujar en 30 segundos?! (Give students 30 seconds to draw a face.) ¡Mira la cara de George! ¡Me gusta mucho! (Take time to describe different pictures, body parts, eres un artista, puedes dibujar muy bien, puedes dibujar rápidamente)

Dance Break TPR- Play a song as students dance. When you stop the music then call out an action for them to do. You can have them do simple things like “Pinta la cara con 10 ojos.” You could also change it up with partner activities like “Una persona es el papel y la otra persona pinta en el papel.” “Una persona pinta la cara de la otra.” they have to find a partner when the music stops and complete the activity. If you have a pair do a great job then have the class look at them. Start the music again.

¡NO, NO, NO, Picasso!- I used the book “Picasso’s Trousers” by Nicholas Allan to tell the story of Picasso. I used the pictures and narrated in Spanish. You can use this book or tell the story of Picasso with a slideshow of his work.51Bl+eDfkOL

** bold words I write on the board to translate or stop to give more examples. These are new words and/or high frequency words.

Hay un niño que se llama Picasso. A Picasso le gusta pintar. Picasso y su familia viven en España. (I show my globe and we talk about where we live compared to Picasso) Picasso quiere ir a Francia. (show on globe again) Quiere ir a Francia porque hay muchos artistas en Francia. Picasso quiere pintar. Picasso quiere pintar en Francia. Pero hay un problema. El papá de Picasso no está contento. Picasso le dice “Quiero ir a Francia.” El papá le dice “No, no, no Picasso. ¡NO PUEDES IR! (I have students say it with me since this will be repeated.) Pero Picasso le responde “¡Si, Yo puedo!”

Picasso va a Francia. Está muy contento. Picasso pinta mucho. Pinta a las personas. Pinta a Francia. Un día, Picasso tiene una idea. A Picasso le gusta el color azul. Quiere pintar TODO de azul. No quiere pintar de rojo. No quiere pintar de amarillo. No quiere pintar de verde. Quiere pintar TODO de azul. ¡Qué diferente! Muchas personas le dicen “No, no, no Picasso. ¡NO PUEDES! No puedes pintar todo de azul. ¡Qué ridículo! Pero Picasso le responde “Sí, Yo puedo” Y Picasso pinta todo de azul. A muchas personas les gusta la idea pero hay otras personas que dicen “No me gusta.

Picasso puede pintar muy bien. Le gusta pintar a las personas. Le gusta pintar la cara. Pinta la cara de frente. (show a picture and translate) Pinta la cara de costado. (Show the picture and translate. I also use motions to show the front and side of my face until I think everyone understands.)  Un día, Picasso tiene una idea. Picasso quiere pintar la cara de frente y quiere pintar la cara de costado al mismo tiempo. ¡Qué diferente! Muchas personas le dicen “No, no, no Picasso. ¡NO PUEDES! No puedes pintar la cara de frente y de costado al mismo tiempo. ¡Qué ridículo! Pero Picasso le responde “Sí, Yo puedo” Y Picasso pinta la cara de frente y  la cara de costado al mismo tiempo. A muchas personas les gusta la idea pero hay muchas personas que dicen “¡No me gusta!” ¿Te gusta?

Picasso puede pintar muy bien. Picasso puede pintar rápido, muy rápido. Un día, Picasso tiene una idea. Picasso quiere pintar una pintura en 30 segundos. ¡30 segundos! ¡Qué rápido! Muchas personas le dicen “No, no, no Picasso. ¡NO PUEDES! No puedes pintar una pintura en 30 segundos. ¡Qué ridículo! Pero Picasso les responde “Sí, Yo puedo” Picasso pinta en 30 segundos. (show the pictures)

Un día Picasso quiere pantalones diferentes. Hay muchos pantalones de rayas verticales. Pero Picasso no quiere pantalones de rayas verticales. Quiere pantalones de rayas horizontales. Muchas personas le dicen “No, no, no Picasso. ¡NO PUEDES! No puedes llevar pantalones de rayas horizontales. ¡Qué ridículo! Pero Picasso le responde “Sí, Yo puedo” Picasso va a un hombre. El hombre le da los pantalones de rayas horizontales a Picasso. Picasso tiene pantalones de rayas horizontales. Está muy contento. Picasso pinta y lleva los pantalones de rayas horizontales.

I created a handout that could be used instead of the book. It does not include the last part about the trousers.

Here is the Spanish story available on a handout.


TPR- Pinta (pretend to paint) – grande, pequeño, rápido, lentamente, Pinta un perro, pinta los ojos, pinta la nariz etc. Pinta a Jacob, pinta los ojos ¿De que color son los ojos de Jacob? Pinta los ojos cafés

ROLL-A-PICASSO- I used this handout from Teachers Pay Teachers and big dice.

First, create a drawing together as a class. The students roll the dice and you describe the painting as you draw on the board.

Then, your students can do a drawing separately. I had them do a simple one with pencil and paper before getting out the construction paper, scissors, and chalk.

After students have a good idea how to use the handout, hand out the supplies for their big drawing.


  1. color construction paper cut into small squares
  2. 8 x 11 black construction paper
  3. scissors
  4. glue
  5. handout Roll-a-Picasso
  6. dice
  7. (optional) sidewalk chalk
  8. (optional) the face shapes already cut out and ready to glue

Students roll the dice and then draw each part of the face on a separate small piece of construction paper. They glue it to the face and continue until they have their own original Picasso. I also had students draw with sidewalk chalk around their Picasso.

** optional activity- Students can write a description of their Picasso on a notecard that can be glued to the painting.



1 week language camp plan – Are you a picky eater?

So this past week I taught at a Gifted Program Academic 1 week camp. I had an hour and a half with 10-12 upper elementary kids for a week. I was SUPER nervous since this was new territory for me.

PQA- So I started with food which is a PQA activity that I feel very comfortable using. The activity was “Draw your favorite food & your least favorite food.”

**NOTE- Martina Bex has this activity as a part of a FOOD UNIT she describes on her blog.

Then, I had a student come up, and I reveal the two foods they drew. Next, each student voted on which food is they thought was the student’s favorite. In the process I asked others if they like that food. Finally, (after a drum roll, of course) the student revealed their favorite food. (Lots of repetitions of “me gusta”, “no me gusta”, and “¡Que asco!¡BLEH!”)

I continued to use these papers throughout the week (2-3 students a time).

I also used these two videos below to discuss other food combinations, stopping to discuss each food and food combination. At the end of each video, we discussed if they had to eat one combination, which one would they choose?


INVISIBLES- We sang a few rounds of “Cabeza, Hombros, Piernas, & Pies”. I used this song for a brain break. Each time, we took out a word as we sang it and replaced it with “LA LA” until the whole song was replaced.

Invisibles are pretty new for me. We created a monster. I had a bag of Mr. Potato parts. As each kid took a turn pulling out a body part, we discussed each body part. How many? What color? What size? I had a high school student helper to draw it for us.

STORY- Below is the story I told with actors. The only part students created in the story was what the family ate and what the monster wanted. I was thinking the monster would want a toy or special item, but the kids chose the BABY and the DOG. (LOL, gotta love kids!)

**NOTE- I had students with some Spanish and others with none, so to make it engaging for all, I told the story in PAST TENSE.

Había un niño. El niño era quisquilloso. Un día la familia tenía ________. La mamá comió _______ . El papá comió ________ . Y el bebé comió ______ . El perro comió _______ . Pero el niño no comió ________ porque no le gustaba. El niño dijo -¡NO ME GUSTA ______ ! ¡Qué asco!- La mamá estaba triste. El papá estaba furioso. Le dijo –Niño, ¡Come!- Pero el niño no quería _______. No le gustaba. Le dijo –NO- El papá le dijo –Tú eres quisquilloso.-

De repente, el niño vio a un monstruo. El niño tenía una idea. El niño le dijo -¡Come, Monstruo! El monstruo tuvo una idea. El monstruo le dijo – Yo quiero tu ______ . –  El niño estaba nervioso. Quería su _____  pero no le gustaba ______ . El niño le dio su  ____ al monstruo. El monstruo comió ____ . El niño estaba feliz porque no comió _____ . El monstruo estaba feliz porque tenía ________

Al día siguiente, la familia tenía ________. La mamá comió _______ . El papá comió ________ . Y el bebé comió ______ . El perro comió _______ Pero el niño no comió ________ porque no le gustaba. El niño dijo -¡NO ME GUSTA ______ ! ¡Que asco!- La mamá estaba triste. El papá estaba furioso. Le dijo –Niño, ¡Come!- Pero el niño no quería _______. No le gustaba. Le dijo –NO- El papá le dijo –Tú eres quisquilloso.-

De repente, el niño vio a un monstruo. El niño tuvo una idea. El niño le dijo -¡Come, Monstruo! El monstruo tuvo una idea. El monstruo le dijo – Yo quiero tu perro. El niño estaba nervioso. Tenía un perro fabuloso pero no le gustaba ______ . ¿El niño le dio el perro al monstruo?

Here is the story with some activity pages to match.

Screenshot 2017-06-20 19.50.25

I based the story on a book I read my boys called… (link to ENGLISH version)


**Fun Fact- This author came to our school to speak and said that he worked on the children’s program SALSA for GPTV which my students watch. If you haven’t checked that out then you need to try it out!

AFTER THE STORY- So after telling the story, I had students act it out as I read it from the screen Next, we filmed it and watched the video later. Then, they each got a sentence strip, and after making sure everyone understood their sentence, they had to put themselves in order. If I had had time, I would have had them switch sentence strips and put themselves in order again, timing them each time to compete against themselves.

After that, we went outside (on a BEAUTIFUL DAY) and instead of each student drawing their sentence strip on paper, each student got a block of sidewalk and chalk to draw their sentence strip and then write their sentence above it. Again, if I had had time, then I would have called out sentences and students would run to the right drawing.

OVERALL, it was a great week, and I can’t wait to do it again next summer!!

How I plan a K-2 lesson… Building Blocks- After the story

So, how do I plan a lesson for my Kindergarten – 2nd grade class?

Here is my first post about Building Blocks of my lessons- TPR.

Here is my second post about Building Blocks of my lessons- PQA.

Here is my third post about Building Blocks of my lessons- STORIES


Things that I continually use throughout a lesson.

So the story is over…now what?

Well, if it was a good storytelling day, then make the most of it.

If it wasn’t (and we have all been there), then we can still salvage it. Call it STORY REHAB.

There are lots of activities to choose, but here are some of my favorites. You can choose just one, 2 of them or all. It just depends on your goals.

Number 1 —  DRAW THE STORY

As you retell the story, students draw the story on their paper. I use a simple 4 box storyboard.

4 box storyboard

I like to draw with them so that as I draw I can describe what I am drawing. And, many kids don’t know how to draw certain things like speech bubbles, expressions, and adding details. The very creative kids draw their ideas, and kids who need some extra support can look at my drawings to guide them.

What is great about this activity is all the extra repetitions the students hear, and it is a less stressful time for students to ask questions.

After you have the drawings, you can retell the story as students point to their drawings. You can then do it out of order to check listening comprehension. You could have some of the students try and tell about one frame in Spanish or all of them. I always make this optional and worth classroom points. (For more information on classroom points, see my observation notes of Annabelle Allen La Maestra Local)

Number 2 —  Character Study

Which character?

If your story had 3 or more characters, then you either have students draw the characters separately or create a document quickly with google images or images free of copyrights on Students then cut them out, or you can cut them out ahead of time.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 18.58.09Download PDF of the image above – Character Study Butterfly

Once students have all the images, you describe the character. For example, tell something they might say or something they do in the story to the class. Students listen and raise the picture or pictures of the characters matching your description.


  • Put pictures of the characters around your room and students walk to the picture of the character you are describing.
  • Take the activity outside! Students draw the characters on the sidewalk with chalk, and then as you describe the character, they can jump on top of their drawings.
  • Now take those same images and students act out the story as you retell it. Or, as you retell the story, they hold up the character you are talking about at that time and switch throughout the story.

Number 3 —  Parallel Story 

I like to make a PowerPoint of a story that I can use year after year that is similar to the story I know I will tell or we will create as a class. Sometimes I have the story written out on the slides, or sometimes it is just the images. You can also check Storyteller’s Corner on TeachersPayTeachers for GREAT stories. I love to tell her stories in class and print them for my classroom library.

Below is a sample of one of the PowerPoints I have made.

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Number 4 —  Act out the story again

Something great about little kids is they will love to act the the story. You can have another set of actors to act out the story, OR you can put the kids in groups and have the groups act out the story at the same time as you retell it. (All the World’s a Stage)

Number 5 —  Musical Story Review

I love to turn on the music. It can change things enough to make it novel. So, turn on your favorite Spanish song. Students walk around the room. Then, when you stop the music, they listen for a sentence from the story that they then act out. For example, (stop music) “The butterfly flies to México” or “The snake says -I like the desert-” Of course you do this in the target language.

Number 6 —  Drawing

I love this one when I have an unexpected 5 minutes left after telling a story.

Pass out half sheets, and have students draw:


  • their favorite scene from the story. You can have requirements like there have to be 2 characters and/or the setting around the characters.
  • what happens next in the story OR maybe draw a spin-off scene (like in the story of “The King doesn’t have a mouth” the students draw HOW the king lost his mouth).
  • a story ending. Cut the story off before you end it. Your students draw the ending. For example “The boy opens his present, and it is ______ .”