Circle time


Circle time activities are the perfect complement to a beautiful story. They can reinforce the ideas, words and feelings presented during story time. Here you can find some examples of how to go even further with your storytelling.



RESOURCES: big and small circles of different colors

LANGUAGE: Colors and big/small. Ex: Bring me the big red circle…

OBJECTIVES: recognizing colors and sizes


Recognizing sizes and colors



RESOURCES: Big laminated letters, small laminated letters (one for each student), a paper bag

LANGUAGE: The alphabet

OBJECTIVES: Raising letter awareness, review letters


B is for Bear


RESOURCES: Big laminated letters and flashcards

LANGUAGE: The alphabet

OBJECTIVES: Raising letter awareness, first letters of words and beginning sounds. Ex:A is for…




RESOURCES: different objects (five pencils, four oranges, three shoes…)

LANGUAGE: Numbers. Ex: Bring me two apples.

OBJECTIVES: recognizing numbers.


Mini offices in the EFL classes


Continuing my literacy tools series for English classes, I’m now going to have a look at mini offices.

What is a mini office?

Mini offices are reference tools for students to use during individual work. It promotes autonomous – independent learning.

How can I get one?

You can make it yourself, or with the help of your students.

You need:

– a file folder

– photocopy of alphabet charts, colors… all the resources to create their own mini office

– glue

– laminating film and laminator or packaging tape

Mini offices for kindergarten level native speakers are made with two or more file folders attached together. For ESL students from 3 to 8 yr old I believe 1 file folder is more than enough. For older students you can make bigger and more elaborated ones with several file folders.

I use the one-file-folder style so that putting them together is quite easy. You just have to choose which charts you want to have in your mini office (some might need to be coloured by the students), arrange them and finally glue them.

How can I use it?

Use the first lessons to create them and then use them throughout the year. Some charts will be nicer if your students color them and this will help students to feel involved in the process. You can use many different charts. The most common ones in native speaker classrooms are: colors, alphabet, shapes, numbers, left and right, days and months, family words, coins, phonics, star words and earth-state-country. I’ve come up with a list of those that can be useful for an EFL class. I have divided it into basic items and other possible alternatives.

Basic charts:

– Alphabet:

ABC chart

ABC chart and star words

Letter chart

– Colors

Color words

Color words (half size)

– Numbers

Tally marks, fingers, numerals and numbers

– Days of the week and months

Days of the week and months of the year (full size)

Days of the week (half size)

Months of the year (half size)

Months of the year

– Family words

Family words

Family words (half size)

Family words (full size)

– Pets

Pets (adapted from

Other possible charts

– Word walls

Word walls

I suggest having an empty page where students can record the new words of each unit.

– Phonics

Phonic chart

Vowel chart


Short vowel

Long vowels


Phonic chart

– Question words

Question words

– Clock

Clock face

You can find a mix of charts to use in mini offices

Kindergarten office

K mini office

Why should you use mini offices in your English class?

Mini offices are conceived to be used where individual work takes place. This way students can work independently and autonomously. Basic concepts which appear in every lesson such as colors and numbers can be reviewed. Teachers can have more time for students who need more help while the others have the means to answer their own questions instead of constantly asking the teacher “How do you write …?”

Web pages

To write this post I have used the following pages:

Pocket charts in the EFL classes


What is a pocket chart?

A pocket chart is a clever way to display letters, words, sentences as well as pictures and other items. It contains pockets where the cards can be placed and it’s an easy way to make a portable and interactive display.

How can I get one?

They seem to be fairly common in many schools and among teachers, but to be honest it doesn’t seem to be so popular here in Spain. I saw one for the first time last year when I received a second-hand one as a present. I find them extremely useful for any class, any subject and a must-have tool for a language class and I’m surprised that EFL books don’t come with one in their course packs.

Basically you can either buy one or make your own by laminating a big piece of colored cardboard. Then, stick strips of clear plastic from one side to the other, making the pockets with them.

How can I use it?

It has hundreds of possibilities in the English class. From being a portable word display to becoming an interactive board for children to learn about phonics, letters, words and so on.

Some activities:

  • Alphabet chart (Letter level)

Have one or more students place the alphabet cards in order. This activity can be done while singing the alphabet song or listening to alphabet stories such as: ABC, by Dr Seuss or Chicka, chicka, boom, boom, by Bill Martin jr.

Place some letters on top. Students then have to place words underneath starting with that letter.

Use it with Jolly Phonics. Place the sound and the words in the jolly phonic jingle.

  • Matching (Word and sentence level)

Have students match two pictures. Ex. color and animal.

Have students match a picture and the word. Ex. frog and picture of a frog.

Reading comprehension: match sentence and picture. Ex. The bird is red and the picture of the bird.

  • Sequencing (sentence  and text level)

Start the session by placing the date and the weather cards at the top of the chart.

You can sequence: months, days of the week, colors of the rainbow and so on.

You can sequence a story. Ex. brown bear, red bird, yellow duck and so on (from Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?, Bill Martin jr.)

Ex. Monday 1 apple, Tuesday 2 pears and so on (from The very hungry caterpillar, Eric Carle) Continue reading

Literacy tools for EFL very young learners and YL


There are many literacy tools that can be used in EFL classes. Many are well known and are well worn and well used (to be polite) in EFL coursebooks and accompanying teacher’s books. With that in mind, I find that others are still to be discovered,  especially those intended for preschool students.

By saying this, I’m assuming that preschool and primary English speakers and EFL children have many things in common and that some tools if not all can be used in both scenarios. Indeed, I believe that literacy teachers would be ideal EFL teachers of little ones. Whereas EFL teachers who have only be exposed to adult learners aren’t necessarily the most able to catter the needs of very young learners and young learners. Many will disagree with me on that, at least monetarily.

In this new project I’m going to analyse some literacy tools waiting to be discovered in the EFL classes.