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Writing and Drawing: Not A Stick

By Ellen Yaling Liao, Taiwan

40 minutes

Lesson Plan


  1. Bring a stick to class and ask the students, “What is it?” They will most likely say, “It’s a stick.” Tell them, “It’s not a stick. It’s a toothbrush.” (brush your teeth with the stick as a toothbrush)

  2. Ask the students again, “What is it?” They will most likely say, “It’s a toothbrush.” Tell them, “It’s a cane.” (walk using the stick as a cane)

  3. Introduce Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis and ask students to guess what the stick might be as you read aloud together. 

  4. Distribute chopsticks to your students and ask them to think of what else the chopsticks can be. Ask students to share their ideas in pairs and with the class. 

  5. Give students a piece of paper and ask them to fold it in half. 

  6. On the left page, ask students to write, “It’s not a stick, it’s _____.” 

  7. Guide students to draw a stick with only clues. 

  8. Ask students to draw the full image revealing the answer on the right side.


  • Starting the lesson with a real stick helps to introduce the story’s theme and helps students understand that they need to think outside of the box. 

  • Similarly, distributing chopsticks and asking students to share their ideas in pairs helps to scaffold the process before asking them to develop their own final ideas. 

  • You can always expand this activity to other items. For example, “It’s not a cloth.”


Teacher: Ellen Yaling Liao, Taiwan

Ellen has been an English teacher for twenty years. She is also a teacher trainer. She holds a Master’s degree from Yilan University of Foreign Language. She has facilitated multiple sessions for Mangrove’s Teachers’ Co-op.

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