The merits of TPR (Total Physical Response) are evident and I cannot stress the need for the use of actions with young primary children enough. The most popular body song,
‘Head, shoulders, knees and toes’ is the classic example of how actions can help children very quickly learn 8 new words.
Actions really are a winner in the language classroom. As well as being fun, actions help to make new language more memorable.
- are very good for large classes, as, if the teacher leads, a large group will follow.
- work very well in mixed-ability groups as they get the meaning of new language across so that ALL the children are able to understand.
- also help the more kinaesthetic learner who needs to be more active in class.
- also involve left- and right-brained learning.
It is sometimes difficult to think of an action for all our target lexis. I look at this website for American Sign Language for inspiration:
I often find that my actions can all become a bit samey as eating ‘soup’, which I do with one hand as the ‘bowl’ and the other hand holding the spoon I put in my mouth, looked very much like my old action for ‘salad’ until I looked at Signing Savvy. Check out the action for ‘salad’ I use now, which is particularly relevant if your learners live in a country where salads are ‘dressed.
With older children, have fun working WITH the children to come up with actions for different words rather than giving the actions. You can often then use these actions with younger children.
Whether the children in my class are 3 or 12, I like to start the year doing an All about me page.
We do the same again at the end of the school year and then they compare the page from the start and the end of the school year. Children are really fascinated by how much they have grown or if their likes/dislikes have changed.
The contents of this page will depend on the age of the children.
Three-year-olds will stick a recent photo of themselves on the A4 card I give them. I draw around their hands or they do a paint handprint. The children also colour a small piece of paper their favourite colour and stick that down. They can cut out their favourite food from supermarket leaflets.
Older children stick a picture or draw their favourite food, toy, school subject, pet, wild animal, etc.
We measure the children and they write down their height.
Children of 11/12 years old write down their favourite pop song, football player, etc.
If you don’t want to do a poster and haven’t got any limitations to the amount of photocopies you do, take a look at:
As I am preparing for the new term, I am choosing fun activities for the first few classes that help me revise language from previous years using fun activities.
Noughts and crosses or Tic-tac-toe is always a great one as I can use it with all ages and to revise all types of language.
Draw a Noughts and crosses/Tic-tac-toe grid on the board. Number each square from 1 to 9.
With younger children, prepare nine flashcards of words you want to revise with your class.
With older children this could be more complicated:
- a list of 9 word cards you want them to read and pronounce correctly;
- a list of 9 words/verbs you want the children to put into a sentence;
- a list of 9 general knowledge questions…. the list of options is endless.
Divide the class into two groups and assign O or X to the two groups. The group then chooses a number and you look at your list and show them the flashcard/word card/say the word or verb/ ask them the question which corresponds to the number they chose. If they answer correctly, they win the square for their team and you rub out the number and write O or X. It is now the turn of the other team. The game is just like the original game of Noughts and crosses/Tic-tac-toe. The winning team is the first to get three in a row.
Here is a fun activity from Matt at http://www.dreamenglish.com which I am SURE my classes are going to love.
As some of you will know, I am also a registered Zumba Kids Jr and Zumba instructor and I’m even going to use this as one of my Zumba games. As I teach Zumba in English to Spanish children, I always teach them the parts of the body they will be using – head, hands, arms, legs, feet, hips and body, so will use my flashcards with body parts at first for The Tower Game. Really looking forward to doing this one!
October 16 is World Food Day.
Whether you are teaching 3 year-olds or 13 year-olds, Food is usually a very important topic in the ESL, EFL and ELT curriculum. World Food Day provides a great opportunity to start a topic/project on food or to at least revise food vocabulary. This year’s theme is ‘The climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too’.
If your students have Internet access in school/at home, they can show solidarity to others by clicking on:
With one simple click daily they can provide food to people in need and to rescue animals.
Websites with classroom activities:
Here’s one of my food songs from Splash A.
I hope you and your class like it. It is aimed at four-year-olds but much older children like it too!
This is song has a good mix of healthy and not so healthy food revised and younger children find funny:
Halloween is very close to World Food Day, so you might like to continue the food theme with this song:
This just a a post to make us think a little whilst we are doing our yearly planning.
At the moment, I guess like most of my fellow teachers out there, I am preparing for the new school term. One thing I want to keep in mind this year is, are my students happy? I know we have a curriculum to teach but we are often worrying so much about SATs exam (or the like), monthly/termly scores, etc. that we forget one important factor – happiness!
Remember what Alfred Mercier said:
or as I often say: ‘What we learn with pleasure, we learn forever!’
I just love the line from Sir Ken Robinson’s speech ‘The Educational Revolution’ when he says:
A three year-old is not half a six year-old.
We are often so busy worrying about a child’s future, that we forget that where they are today is the most important thing. My biggest wish is for my son to be happy here and now. This is very easy at holiday times but it isn’t always possible in term time, usually due to homework or the ‘H’ word, as it is known in our house!
Happiness is an important part of school life or at least it should be! If we are happy and motivated, we are usually better learners.
We are living in violent and uncertain world but we can work on the topic of peace with the children looking at what they can do.
We talk about creating peace
- in the classroom
- in school
- at home
- then, in the world
This has to be my favourite song about peace by Jack Jones and Ben Harper.
Get the tissues ready! It really brings a tear to your eye!
I leave you with some quotes:
by Henry James (author)
Season’s Greetings from one of my favourite cities in the World.
And here’s a funny one from Oxford University
Wishing everyone a fantastic Christmas and a very happy and healthy