Two Days with the O’Malleys

Are you ready to get to know the O’Malley family? They’re a ‘boringly normal’ family, which is to say, not quite like any other family, but dealing with all the same problems and all the same decisions.

This collection of stories introduces the O’Malleys. There’s even a worksheet to set the stage.

  • Introducing the O’Malleys A full page of reading about the O’Malley family (with no dialogue) and then a full page of questions on the back. Students are asked to fill in the O’Malley family tree and answer opinion questions about what they’ve read.
  1. Sunday Morning. Introducing the O’Malley family, this is the first story in a four-story arc that covers a single day. In this story, Patrick tries to let his wife sleep in when his kids are already awake.
  2. The Playground. After everyone has woken up in the last story, the family heads into the city to visit a playground and eat a picknick lunch. Worksheet oneanswer key.
  3. Dinner shopping. After the excursion to the park in the last story, the O’Malley’s are tired. In this story, we can see a very short conversation on the topic of what to make for dinner and the family goes shopping on the way home. Worksheet twoanswer key.
  4. The Barbecue. The last story that takes place on that Sunday, this story establishes that these stories begin at the same time as the Carmen stories. (I don’t know if that is important or not). Here, the O’Malleys come back from their dinner shopping and learn that the whole house where they live is barbecuing together.
  5. Monday morning. This story follows the first four, but it could be any Monday morning in any family in the world. Here, we can see the parents trying to get the family going. Worksheet threeanswer key.
  6. Off to school. This story is basically “Monday morning part two,” it’s the second half of the O’Malley family’s morning routine. It’s not as harmonious as the parents would like.

I have a EFL teaching blog where I have written about how I use these stories. The short version is this: the only required reading is the first worksheet. That gives the students a feeling for what it is, and should be the first feeling of ‘success.’

Then, I pass out one story per lesson (I might take a break after the sixth story here, where a single story-arch has ended) and I don’t tell them they have to read. But, I do use “what did you think of the O’Malley story” as a filler activity between lessons. If students have read the story but don’t have questions, I quickly turn the conversation around to them, “I could never be that spontaneous in changing my dinner plans. Could you?”


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