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).


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 Very Hungry EFL Caterpillar





The very hungry caterpillar is a must-read book for native English speaking children. This book has also some valuable features which make it a wonderful resource that can be used in the EFL class.

There are thousands of web pages and ideas out there and as in previous posts, I like to try to find the most inspiring ideas that can be used in the EFL class. The best thing is that these activities are not solely limited to EFL, but include math activities, literacy activities and even crafts. Some of these activities can be used in exactly the same way would be done with native kids of the same age while others have been adjusted due to the different amount of input and vocabulary between native English speakers and students of EFL.

Keep in mind that this lesson plan is only a suggestion, as every group is different in size, time available each week and so on. Feel free to pick and choose activities and create your own lesson plan.



  • Very young learners. From 3 to 7 years old.


  • Get to know a popular story.
  • Enjoy listening to a story.
  • Act out the story. Participate.
  • Learn the main vocabulary of the story.


  • Food items
  • Numbers
  • Days of the week
  • Colours


  • The very hungry caterpillar book (big book version is a bonus). Worksheets below. Shaped labels.

The story

You can find some suggestions of how to use stories by clicking the tab above. Lets start by watching a nice video of the tale.


If you are using this book at the beginning of the academic year or you haven’t yet prepared a mini office for your students, you can make one while doing these activities and continue to add parts such as colours, numbers and so on. The great thing about mini offices is that you can use them while dealing with this book and then use it as a reference tool throughout the rest of the year.

Incentive chart

Before starting the activities you might want to hang an incentive chart on a bulletin board. Depending on the group you might want to focus on different aspects such as: behaviour during the activity, finishing the activity in the time given or tidyness. You can print the following model or create your own one:

Incentive chart (www.makinglearningfun.com)


Worksheet 1: Trace the number

Make a copy for each child of the worksheet 1. Ask the children to trace the numbers. As they finish sit down with them individually or in small groups and repeat the numbers while pointing.

Note: This will be part of the mini office.

Worksheet 2: Stick circles and form a caterpillar.

Make a copy for each child of worksheet 2. Give them round shaped labels of the same or different colours. Ask students to stick as many circles as the number shows like in the example above.

Worksheet 3: Create a mini book.

Make a copy for each student of worksheet 3: number 1, number 2, number 3, number 4 and number 5. You can work on a number every day or focus on one every week (depending on the time available). Give children round shaped labels. Ask students to stick the labels on the number, raising awareness of the number shape. Then ask them to trace the number. Finally ask them to colour the fruit. Go around the tables asking students which number is which.


worksheet 1

Worksheet 2

Worksheet 3: number 1, number 2, number 3, number 4, number 5.

Other worksheets

Here are some other worksheets you can practice with your students (from http://www.makinglearningfun.com)

Other resources

There is a wonderful teacher’s guide where you can find activities like this mini book. Have a look at the sample pages available on their web page: Teacher created resources


Worksheet 1 and 2: Make a very colourful caterpillar.

Note: It would be ideal to read books about colours such as Brown bear, brown bear what do you see? before this lesson so that students are already familiar with colours.

Make a copy for each child of worksheet 1 and/or worksheet 2. Worksheet 1 consists on colouring the circles, cutting them and sticking them on another piece of paper (little children might not have yet acquired the ability to cut on their own). Worksheet 2 is easier and only requires them to colour the circle following the colour names.

Note: This will be part of the mini office.


Worksheet 1

Worksheet 2

Days of the week

Prepare some flashcards with the name of the days of the week, the food items and the numbers from 1 to 5. In this activity we will use a pocket chart.

Hang the pocket chart low enough so that children can easily reach the strips but high enough so that everybody can see the result. Ask students about the story: On Monday, the hungry caterpillar ate… Place Monday on the pocket chart while talking and elicit the number and the food item, then place them. You can demonstrate another or if you see some children are getting the idea, or you have used the pocket chart before and students are familiar with it, just call a child and have him or her place the flashcards in order as in the picture.

Some beautiful flashcards are (from http://www.makinglearningfun.com)






Worksheet 1: Make an alphabet caterpillar.

Make a copy of worksheet 1 for each student. Use alphabet charts, magnets, sand boxes and so on to demonstrate the letters of the alphabet. Older students might already be familiar with them whereas first-years might need to work on it throughout the year.

Note: This will be part of the mini office.


Worksheet 1

Food items

Worksheet 1: Spelling

Make a copy of worksheet 1 for each student. Ask the students to cut it into four squares. Following the look, say, cover, write and check technique, tell students to practice the spelling of each word by folding the name bellow as in the picture.

Worksheet 2: Words and letters

Make a copy of worksheet 2 for each student. Show them the difference between a letter (show a magnet letter) and a word (show a flashcard). Ask them to colour green the circles with a word and blue the circles with a letter.


Worksheet 1

Worksheet 2

Mini Office

We are ready now to make our mini office. Ask students to cut or help them cut the worksheet with the colours, the numbers, the days of the week, the fruits flashcards and the alphabet. Stick them on the mini office as you wish and it will be ready to use.

As this book has been so popular for years with both kids and teachers, there are loads of games associated with the story available, from card games to puzzles. This is truly and oldy but a goody, years of teacher experience around the world has built up a treasure chest of ideas. I hope this brief collection of activities can as useful in your classes as they are in mine.

Useful web pages:

Making learning fun

Eric Carle’s web page

Teaching heart


First school

The virtual vine

My Easter Egg Hunt


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.


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.


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


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.