Thursday, December 1, 2011

Recipe for a Hippopotamus Sandwich

Let me begin this story by saying that, as a child, I loved Shel Silverstein. So, when it came time to pack up my life and move to Taiwan for a year to teach English to elementary school children, I reveled in the idea of getting to share this particular aspect of American culture and language with my new students. Despite the weight restrictions on my luggage, I ran to the store and picked up a copy of my favorite book of his poetry, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and I've just been itching to use it in the classroom ever since.

Then, my day came. My fourth graders at Dong Sing Elementary were learning about food and, since it was midterms week, we didn't want to start a new lesson yet. We wanted to do something fun but still somewhat on topic, a review activity of sorts. So I turned to good ol' Shel and found "Recipe for a Hippopotamus Sandwich." It goes like this:

by Shel Silverstein  
A hippo sandwich is easy to make.
All you do is simply take
One slice of bread,
One slice of cake,
Some mayonnaise,
One onion ring,
One hippopotamus, 
One piece of string, 
A dash of pepper-
That ought to do it,  
And now comes the problem... Biting into it!

Siena and I read the poem with our students and taught them a few new vocab words like "bite," "hippopotamus" and "mayonnaise." Then the real fun began: we assigned all of our students the task of writing their own recipes by changing the animal and all the food words in the poem. The best part: since Shel Silverstein's poem had an illustration, I made all of my students illustrate their poems as well. Some of them are, admittedly, a little bit gruesome if you think about it too much but they're just so funny I had to share. Here are just a few of my favorites:

Looking like it just stepped out of Sanrio, Lily's elephant sandwich was one of the cuter submissions 

Roger decided to add a few sprinkles of rainbow to his whale sandwich

I don't know if you can see it but this cat sandwich comes complete with a "slice" 
of dog (or at the very least a mini dog strapped to the cat's back)

Don't forget to add one car and some jam next time you make yourself a "pig sandwich"

Davis and his recipe for a dog sandwich (although it's really more of an impressively 
drawn wolf sandwich if you ask me)

And, last but not least, we have my absolute favorite: Vic's dog sandwich.
It was my favorite mostly because of Vic's unflinching realism. Unlike all of his classmates with their happy smiling sandwich centerpieces, Vic went to great lengths to reinforce that the dog in his sandwich is, in fact, dead. Just in case it wasn't enough that the dog's eyes X-ed out and its tongue is lolling, at the last minute Vic grabbed his pencil and added the dog's angelic spirit rising from the sandwich. And let's just stop for a minute and reflect on how very proud he looks about the whole thing.
Here's a close up in case you couldn't see the angel dog in the other shot: