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December 2019 - Year 21 - Issue 6

ISSN 1755-9715

What Do Little Boys Want for Christmas?

When I was 7 years old, it was a Stretch Hulk. I remember being hypnotised by the advertisement on TV. And in the weeks leading up to Christmas, there was nothing else that occupied my mind.

You can tie them in a tangle.
And see how they unwrangle.*
You can stretch their legs and arms.
It won’t do any harm.

* Nonsense word

Take a peek….

I imagined how meaningful my life would be with Stretch Hulk. There was nothing that I wanted more in the world. He would complete me.

Christmas morning came. Stretch Hulk was waiting for me under the tree. I unwrapped him and unboxed him. He was almost perfect. There was just one tiny disappointing detail: he wasn’t quite as stretchy as I had hoped.

My dad told me that like all athletes, Stretch Hulk needed to warm up first. So we gave him a hot bath and that seemed to work. Once a state of stretchability had been induced, I had literally minutes of fun pulling his arms and legs, just as I had seen my young North American peers doing on TV.

But there was another problem: apparently, the instructions that came with Stretch Hulk warned that he should not be overstretched. Unfortunately, I was not told exactly what this meant and I had to find out for myself.

By the end of the day, Stretch Hulk had developed a little hole close to his left ankle. And this allowed me to see what he was made of: underneath his green rubber skin, he was filled with a clear, viscous gel.

Strangely, I wasn’t particularly worried by this. The gel was so thick that I assumed that it would stay where it was supposed to be. I left Stretch Hulk on the table beside my bed and went to sleep.

The next morning, things were bad. A sizeable quantity of gel had oozed out of Stretch Hulk’s leg and had formed a gooey pool on the table.

I took Stretch Hulk downstairs and showed him to my mum. She gave me the bad news – he would have to be thrown out. I probably cried. She promised me that I would get something else as a replacement Christmas present.

The box that Stretch Hulk had arrived in became his coffin. He was laid to rest on the windowsill in the kitchen. And the next day, he was gone.

I sometimes wonder where Stretch Hulk is today. I like to imagine that he is looking down on me, always ready to stretch out a guiding arm in times of trouble.

Note: Apparently I was not the only one to burst a Stretch Hulk (see video below.). 

OK, it’s a silly story. But it’s authentic and now you know just a little bit more about me.

In the days leading up to Christmas, this is the sort of text that I might want to use in the language classroom. One of the reasons for this is that it has a high contagious factor.

What do I mean by that?

Well, ask yourself this question: does my story open up one of yours? In other words, can you recall a meaningful experience involving a Christmas present or a childhood toy? I’ll guess that it does. In this sense, one story can lead to another. My text becomes a pretext for one of yours.

A good story does not have to be remarkable. In fact, it is often the most unremarkable stories that will connect best with an audience. And a short story from the teacher can be so much more meaningful than a John Lewis Christmas advertisement.

We hide ourselves behind videos and other materials. But we expect our students to offer their own opinions and share their own stories on demand. Shouldn’t we lead by example?

So, my advice for 2019 is this: collect your stories and prepare them for the classroom. They might just become your best ever lesson plans.


Please check the Leadership Skills for Teachers Creative Methodology for the Classroom at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Methodology and Language for Primary course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Methodology and Language for Secondary course at Pilgrims website.

Tagged  Lesson Ideas 
  • Switching Voices
    Jema Abbate, South Korea

  • A Writing Lesson Using Korean Poetry: Sijo
    Michael Free, Canada/ South Korea

  • The Magic Millstone – Learning a Korean Folk Tale from KC
    David Heathfield, UK

  • What Do Little Boys Want for Christmas?
    Jamie Keddie, Spain