Grab 5 Lesson By Ben Slavic – A Suggestion About Starting Off An Input Based Class

Put an X mark through the black square once you have done the step:


  • Write these three expressions (any three can be used – perhaps one from a story script you plan to use soon) on the board in L2 and then in L1 so that the students (in this case the teacher who is doing the Grab 5 session with you), can see both languages:

– needs to sneeze
– can sneeze
– sneezes


  • Ask the students (whoever is working with you), first with “needs to sneeze”, if there is a physical sign that they can think of to express this action. When you see a good one, tell the “class” that that one has been accepted, praising the person who came up with the successful gesture. It will be the gesture for “needs to sneeze”. Do the same for the other two expressions.
  • Ask a student if they need to sneeze. They probably will say no unless they have to sneeze right then. Say, “Class, [Jimmy] doesn’t need to sneeze!” and then circle that statement. For details on how to circle, go to the resources page of this site and click on workshop handouts.
  • Similarly, ask a student if they “can sneeze”. They probably will say yes, because most people can sneeze, some louder than others. Then say, “Class, [Jimmy] can sneeze!” and then circle that statement. Don’t let him sneeze, however. Use the gesture when you say the expression.
  • Then, when the time feels right to sneeze, move to practicing the third expression, ask a student to sneeze. Use the best gesture. (You may choose to tell the class not to laugh during all of this – it will create some mirth in the classroom.) Then, when Jimmy acts like he is sneezing say, “Class, [Jimmy] is sneezing!” and then circle that statement. Act like it is a big deal, a wonderful thing.
  • Go around the room (or pretend to since it is a Grab 5 session and you don’t have any students there, or go ask a few students to help you in this work – a Grab 5 session can be done with another teacher and any willing students as well, kids who want to help you get better at it) and ask other students if want to sneeze, can sneeze, or are sneezing.
  • You may want to add a Three Ring Circus here, or maybe someone can write up a Three Ring Circus Grab 5 post for this collection of lessons separately. If you do that, you will need three actual students in the room. Tell each one to go to a different part of the room. Each one will do one of the three expressions in different ways as you circle that. Three Ring Circus is described in TPRS in a Year! on page 35. You can ask the students to sneeze rapidly, slowly, loudly, to the right, to the left, up in the air, with a hand in place as to block (imaginary) spray, with a finger in one nostril, etc.
  • Circle all of that, until it runs out of energy. During this time, if you have a student there through these steps, ask them to count on a sheet of paper how many times you said each expression.

[Note: you just finished doing PQA. This is a good time to stop your Grab 5 practice session and process it with your teaching partner. It’s been more than five minutes, most likely, anyway. Very importantly, note that everything you have done so far has been in the present tense. Now, whoever writes the next Grab 5 session on “How To Start A Story After PQA”, make sure you use the step format listed above, and make sure that the person practicing the story asks it in the past tense. PQA is done in the present tense, and the story process is done in the past tense. I will look for this next Grab 5 lesson on what to do after PQA and hopefully is up here soon. In the meantime, teachers are suggested to keep working on the above lesson until we get another one. All sorts of Grab 5 sessions can be done, so don’t hesitate to write one and send it to me for addition in the list, y’all.]



3 thoughts on “Grab 5 Lesson By Ben Slavic – A Suggestion About Starting Off An Input Based Class”

  1. Ben wrote:
    “You may want to add a Three Ring Circus here”
    If you’re interested in knowing more about this, come to iFLT this summer. (July 27-31) Berty Segal Cook will be presenting on TPR and will demonstrate the Three Ring Circus. As excellent as Ben’s description/explanation is, you’ll understand it even better once you have experienced it.
    For more information go to
    Berty Segal Cook is a key figure in the development of TPR and thus TPRS. This summer may be one of her last “public” appearances – she’s apparently planning to retire (at the age 0f 90+) so she can concentrate on other things, like “learning” a language.

  2. the idea of circling sneezes, can sneeze and needs to sneeze was a big aha for me. It’s a good way to get reps while keeping things interesting. has to, needs to, wants to, can, prefers to, should, must… these can be used from the beginning of the year. I tried it with a group yesterday and it worked great! Thanks, Ben.

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