A Doorstop is a Ramp is a Monster

On Wednesdays I hang out with another adorable seven year old, Olivia, who in the beginning stages of learning English.  She understands it just fine when it's spoken to her, but she's understandably reluctant to speak herself and oftentimes shy when she does so.  We've made lots of progress, though--whereas at the beginning she would barely even make eye contact with me or just shrug when I asked her questions, I've witnessed her evolve into an engaged and enthusiastic language learner.

Today she showed up with a doorstop and two googly eyes that she snagged from me last week.  I had some other stuff in mind for us to do together, including a poem and a letter game, but when I saw she brought the doorstop all the way to the table and not only plopped it down with the googly eyes but proceeded to begin doodling on it, I figured it was best to follow her lead.

"Whatcha got there?" I asked casually.  "I don't know," she began, then she drew a picture of a beach and helped me to understand that she found it while walking by the beach one day.  "Oh, cool!" I said, "it's a great doorstop!"  I showed her how it works to hold doors open and she grinned.  "Or, a shoe!" she exclaimed pointing to the doorstop's shape.  "You're right!" I said.  After thinking a second I grabbed a race car that's always where it's not supposed to be, and said, "Or, a ramp!"  We scribbled the word "ramp" on her vocabulary sheet and kept brainstorming.

"Aha!" I cried, "I've got it!  The best possible use for a doorstop is to make it...A MONSTER!"

She nodded, then asked, "Ma come?"  I wrote "How?" on her vocabulary sheet and continued, "I'll show you."

I grabbed our materials:

and after a brief lecture about how acrylic paint will never, ever come out of your clothes (which isn't exactly the whole truth but it was best for her to think it is), we started planning the monster's color.

 Olivia decided that instead of picking just one color for the monster, she preferred to use them all.  "Oh, ok," I began, "so you want a multi-colored monster, right?"  She nodded and we noted the word "multi-colored" on her vocabulary sheet.  I placed a few dabs of the five colors I had on hand on a paper plate, and Olivia got straight to work.

Not surprisingly, the globs of paint hadn't dried well before she was attempting to stick the eyes on...

And the two eyes she began with hadn't been there two seconds before she decided they weren't enough and was up helping herself to more from the craft basket.

 Soon after Olivia added a quaint red monster mouth, but suddenly looked dissatisfied.  When I asked what was wrong she stroked her ponytail.  "Ah, yes.  I agree.  It needs hair."  We searched around in the craft basket but couldn't find anything suitable.  Just then I eyed a stack of small post-its and shrieked, "I've got it!  We can do this!"

 Olivia scrunched up her nose and shook her head.  She grabbed a pen and drew a squiggly design, then she touched her pony tail again and said, "Not straight."  I thought for a second, and then got it.  "Oh!  Wavy!  You want it to have wavy hair!"  She nodded eagerly and I jotted the new word down next to her drawing.

I searched high and low for yarn, but there was none to be found.  After a bit we both resolved that the yellow post-its were the best bet.  Olivia had a different idea for how to put them.  "Not like this," she started, "like this."

 After adding the monster's bangs, Olivia pronounced the project complete.  I suggested that she name the monster, and after thinking a few seconds she came up with the name "Weazi", pronounced "Wayzee".

To tie in a bit of writing practice I threw together a "Meet my Monster" sheet and asked her to do some shared writing with me.  First she drew a pic of her monster:

Then we wrote a few sentences about Weazi together.

At the end of the day, I have to admit Olivia probably learned more by me just going with what she was obviously into at the moment than what I'd originally planned.  We highlighted a bunch of great vocabulary:

And most importantly had a great time.  Wonder what she'll bring over next week.

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