Last week, on Friday 6th December, I was so lucky as to personally meet and say a warm hello to our nice friends from Animals on the Underground at their office in London: a kind of milestone in the story of our project and a terrific present on the days before Christmas.
You all know we have been working in partnership with them since the school year 2011-2012. Nick Thomas and Paul Middlewick have always been really kind to us and they had done their best to let their wonderful animals help the students at our school improve their English in a fun and motivating way.
Every course a new group of pupils find out about Animals on the Underground when they are given each an envelope with a tube map inside. The map has a secret message within which reads: "Hello, I'm the London tube map. Bring me back to school next Monday with an elephant inside". The students are told to keep the message in secret and not to speak about it to each other.
On the following Monday all kinds of elephants overflow the English class and the students show their classmates the examples they have brought within their maps: pictures, drawings, models, or toys. Then, the students are told to carefully look at their tube maps and check some of the lines and stations. Suddenly an elephant seems to hop off the map: he is Elephant & Castle, one of the charming animals on the underground map.
The students hardly believe it: it's a kind of magic and they can't stop smiling and laughing at each other. Next, they are shown a few more animals and they are told about Paul, a man who was one day waiting for the tube on the platform and, staring at the large map on the wall at the other side of the track, first spotted Elephant & Castle.
Later in the course, around May, the students focus on Animals on the Underground in one of the activities within the project Workshop Undergrounding London. First, they write and act out a role-play story in which they visit Paul and Nick at their London office; second, they read the story on how the Animals concept started and developed; finally, they do a range of fun exercises to improve their English as they keep on discovering about the Animals. Terrific!