Halloween

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Boo Boo

Halloween is just around the corner and I have the week ahead to put in practice many activities related to this festival that seems to have taken hold around the world. The thing is that every time I want to focus my teaching on celebrations I find that, on the one hand it’s a wonderful way to teach culture and diversity but on the other hand I don’t see the point of teaching seemingly useless vocabulary such as jack-o-lantern, witch or reindeer. That’s why I have decided to not only have a cultural purpose but also a language one and use this opportunity to review or consolidate other topics.

Vocabulary Pumpkin words
Prepositions Where’s the pumpkin?
Do you have…? Do you have a pencil in your pumpkin?
Rhymes Pumpkin rhymes
Colors Pumpkin color
Alphabet Alphapumpkin
Numbers Two pumpkins rolling in the park
Cross Curriculum Growing pumpkins

Pumpkin words

Every year students are exposed to Halloween vocabulary, whether we like it or not, witches and skeletons are usually within the first 100 English words a child learns. A good way refresh this year-in year-out vocabulary is to  make a mini book that will be a good reference tool for the following activities. We can also have a poster on one of the walls ready to check a word at any time:

Halloween word booklet (from http://www.activityvillage.co.uk)

Halloween word poster 1 (from http://www.activityvillage.co.uk)

Halloween word poster 2 (from http://www.activityvillage.co.uk)

Where’s the pumpkin?

Let’s review some of the prepositions by decorating a house for Halloween. This activity can be done in several ways, I like to do a picture dictation:

Have students cut out the pictures on page 2 of the worksheet. Give instructions, asking them to stick them in various places, such as: The pumpkin is in front of the door, the cat is on the roof and so on. Note that there are many picture to stick, my suggestion is to have some selected for following the teacher’s instructions and the rest  to decorate the house as they want, writing the name beneath each of them. All teacher know that kids love to have an outlet for their own creativity.

Worksheet (from http://www.activityvillage.co.uk)


Do you have a pencil in your pumpkin?

Have students make a pumpkin basket. Use little flashcards from other topics, it can be just pictures or just words. Tell students to work in pairs. Choose a topic to review and tell students to put some flashcards in the basket. In turns they ask:

-Do you have a pencil in your basket?

- Yes, I do. Do you have a crayon in your basket?

This is a great way to review vocabulary while be in the Halloween mood. This can of course be changed for “Have you got” if you are teaching with UK coursebooks that have yet to change to the simpler American/International form. They can later use the basket for their treats!

Pumpkin rhymes

There are many activities to recognise words which rhyme. An easy rhyme is ending in -at such as cat, bat, hat. For me, it’s easier to find these kinds of activities in Literacy books for native speakers than in EFL books, but this will probably(hopefully?) change with time.

There is one magazine that I particularly like that is The mail box. Even though it is intended for native speakers and covers other areas (Science, Maths) I find it a great tool especially preschool,  grade 1 and grade 2-3 as these can in many cases be used directly without adapting them, or can be used in a grade or two higher than originally intended for non-native speakers. After all, in the end we are teaching children and many of the techniques and ideas can be transfered to ESL.

The picture shows some examples of the worksheets you can find there (in the magazine).

Alphapumpkin

We can practise the alphabet while focusing on Halloween. We can use capital or lower case (small) letters. Print one worksheet for each student. Have the students color the letters they hear. You can make it more festive by picking the letters from a Halloween bag like a bingo or play any exercises dealing with the alphabet that you find on the coursebooks CD’s. You can practise the whole alphabet or just a few letters each time like in the picture.

Worksheet 1: Capital letters (from http://www.makinglearningfun.com)

Worksheet 2: Small letters (from http://www.makinglearningfun.com)

For more activities related to the alphabet check Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

Stay tuned for more activities.

My Easter Egg Hunt

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Language and cultural purpose

Easter is around the corner and in every school and academy teachers will be looking for stuff to do around this celebration over the next weeks. That’s why I have started to prepare some activities and stories with our best friends, Ken and Karen. The thing is that every time I want to focus my teaching on celebrations I find that, on the one hand it’s a wonderful way to teach culture and diversity but on the other hand I don’t see the point of teaching vocabulary such as jack-o-lantern, witch or reindeer. That’s why I have decided to not only have a cultural purpose but also a language one and use this opportunity to review or consolidate other topics (vocabulary items).

What do I want to review or consolidate?

Topics Stories
Colors,  numbers & days of the week What did you find in your Easter egg hunt?
Prepositions, rooms of the house Where did you find the eggs?
Family Who found the eggs?
Spring, garden, flower Planting a rainbow, by Lois Ehlert. Growing vegetable soup, by Lois Ehlert

Lesson plan

Every school and every classroom is a different world. For this reason it is difficult to give a one-size-fits-all lesson plan which will work with a class of 8, or 20 or 50; in a session of 30 minutes, of 60 or one of 90 minutes and so on. That’s why I’m going to lay out the ingredients, the basics and you cook it at your convinience.

1. Colors, numbers and days of the week

 

Karen is looking for eggs. Every day she finds a different number and different color of eggs. Karen’s story can be used to review this vocabulary and also to introduce students to a tradition in Angloxason countries: the Easter egg hunt.

The story

Read the story What did you find? at the beginning of every class so students can get used to the vocabulary items. To know what to do with the story go to How to use… the stories in the Category list.

I love to use a stage to present Karen’s story cards as it gives students the idea of watching TV or being part of a puppet theater. This way they are more willing to participate and to pay attention. Let them be the ones telling the story and changing the cards from the box. It helps them to remember and retell the story using the target vocabulary.

Flashcards

From presenting the target vocabulary to play some games, flashcards can be used in games such as What’s missing, What’s next and so on.

For tips on using them go to How to use… flashcards in the Category list. Note that if you find the background confusing you just have to change it to a white background.

Picture dictation

TPR (Total Physical Response) activities are ideal for young children. Students perform in a relaxed enviroment without pushing them to talk, just to listen, understand and perform the action.  In this topic I suggest two activities:

The first one is a picture dictation. Give the instructions of how to cut and glue both pages (note that cutting the eggs can be difficult for very little ones) and get the colors from their pencil case. Once everybody is ready say the number and the color as follows: color number 1 red. Reuse them in another session by working in pairs asking each other Which color is number 1? Red.

The second consists of giving students a picture of a basket. It can be one basket for each student or one picture per pair or group of four. Distribute pictures of color eggs. The teacher or student names a color and the person who has that color places it on the basket. Once performed with all the class,it can be played in pairs or groups of four. Notes: laminate the pictures so they can be used over and over again. You can also hand out white eggs and tell them to color them before starting the activity, this can be done in a previous session to have time to laminate them.

Counting book

This activity focuses on reading and writing. It can be done in many different ways:

- Write the number words for students to trace.

- Students write the number words.

- Do a picture dictation as explained above. Students write the color as follows: 1 red egg.

- Let them color the eggs as they wish then write about them: 3 purple eggs.

- Practise other adjectives,  ex sizes: 1 big egg.

Note: You can find worksheets for these activities in Resources in the Category list.

2. Family

The story

Read the story Who found the eggs? at the beginning of every class so students can get used to the vocabulary items. For ideas of what to do with the story go to How to use… the stories in the Category list.

This story features family vocabulary and also colours and numbers. It’s a great opportunity to revise these topics with your students.

Picture dictionary

A truely handy activity which can be used through all the sessions and can help students to become independent autonomous leaners. There are some tips in the section How to use… the picture dictionary.

To find the picture dictionary go to Resources in the Category list.

Dice game

In pairs students can roll the family and number dice. In turns students say: My sister found 3 eggs.

Alternatively, we can have a family dice and a colored one. In turns students say: My sister found  a yellow egg.

To find the printable family dice go to Resources in the Category list.

Note: To find other resources and ideas go to Topics, Family in the category list.

Prepositions, rooms in the house

If you have been dealing with prepositions or with rooms of the house this can be a great opportunity to revise these vocabulary items. You start reviewing the rooms of the house, then the prepositions to finish the last session just before Easter with a real Easter egg hunt. You can even convey the family topic in these sessions. Some ideas are:

Rooms of the house

Show some flashcards or do any of the activities you did during this topic to refresh the vocabulary: rooms. Set students in pairs and hand out the picture of the house. One student draws some color eggs randomly. The other student has to guess where they are by asking:

Student A: Is the red egg in the bedroom?

Student B: No, it isn’t.

Student A: Is the red egg in the kitchen?

Student B: Yes, it is

Note: If you can laminate the pictures  students could use and reuse them by coloring the eggs with whiteboard markers.

Prepositions

Have an A 3 ready of the house with colored eggs with the eggs in different places, draw a house on the board or use it with an IWB. Review the following prepositions: in, on, under, behind. Ask students: Where are the blue eggs? Set students in pairs and hand out a copy with the eggs to one student and one without the eggs to the other student (you can use the pictures of the previous activity: rooms of the house). The student with the colored eggs dictate where the eggs are without showing their paper to the partner as follows:

Student A: There is an orange egg under the table.

Student B draws it.

Note: You should provide some useful language such as: Could you said that again? Do you mean under this table? and so on.

Rooms of the house and family

In this activity you can cover both topics just by placing family members in the different rooms. Perform it first in front of the class and then hand out the pictures(these can be the same that were used in the other sessions). Print Karen’s family members and cut them out. Students place the family member and say: Karen found an egg in the living room and then they write about it.


Note: To find the worksheets to print go to Resources in the Category list.

The Stories

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Ken and Karen’s stories can be exploited in many different ways. It is worth reading The Primary English Teacher’s Guide, by Jean Brewster and Gail Ellis, if you want to know about aspects such as: why use stories in class?, criteria for selecting storybooks, reading or telling stories and storytelling techniques. You can also find more tips from them in another of their books, Tell it again!

Here I’m going to focus on something that I came across the other day and I found fascinating. I’m talking about Kamishibai. For those like me who didn’t have any idea of their existence, take a look at this post which will help you learn more about what we’re talking about: Kamishibai

You can buy the stage through this web page. But I prefer the idea of recycling a box to have my own. A wooden box like those given in vegetable shops could work. Once the stage is ready it’s time to think of things like: how to organize the classroom, if you want to  tell, read or listen to the story as I mentioned above. Everyone has their own way and every story demands different things, for these reasons you will find different ideas in Ken and Karen’s lesson plans.