Building self-esteem and rapport on day one -part 2

Self-esteem matters! We’ve long known that when students feel good about themselves, they are much more likely to become better achievers in the classroom.

Rapport , on the other hand, provides the base from which learning can take place. The rapport between a teacher and their students as well as among the students,  plays a very important role in determining if the class will be successful and enjoyable. Students are often very hesitant to speak out in class for a variety of reasons. Questions go unasked and unanswered… students remain silent because they are afraid to lose their self- esteem by being put down in front of their classmates and peers.

“It is important for students not only to realize their own uniqueness but also feel accepted by their peers” (Reasoner, 1992, p. 46).

“Studies indicate that children who lack attention or feedback are apt to have poorer self- concepts than those who receive either positive or negative feedback on a regular basis” (Reasoner, 1992, pp. 4-5).

Task 1

Back to school




Our classroom door: a great way of boosting self esteem and positive attitudes in any classroom – and it livens up a dull door!


“Be” bulletin board – great way to encourage the character traits we wish to see in our students!I think this is really what we should be able to do: teach kids that don’t really know how to treat others what we expect from them.



This is a great board and does mirror my philosophy. I love my students and believe in them, but I will push them to give me their all, too.

Task 2


I ask my students to work in pairs, facing each other. They are asked to draw their partner’s portrait ,the way THEY  see him/her. As soon as they finish, they show each other their drawings and both  comment on them, describing their partner’s  facial or body characteristics in the picture   at the same time. During the next step, I ask them to exchange pictures and start writing words that describe  their personalities, around the picture frame. I usually brainstorm relevant  vocabulary before this activity, or use my “BE” bulletin board. (see photo  above) Finally, I ask their partners to ADD 2-3 more words  , from their own point of view. All pictures are displayed on the class bulletin board.


Rapport activity: make your partner’s portrait the way you see him/her , add adjectives which you think describe their character and personality !


Students work in pairs for this activity. They don’t show their partner their drawing until it’s done.

Task 3


I ask the children to stand facing each other in two lines and raise their arms high,with the tips of their fingers touching, to make the Happy Tunnel! I choose a child to go through the happy tunnel.I ask the class to think of a positive thing to say to the child who is going to go through the tunnel, eg I like you/You’re great/You’re nice/You’re good at…

The Happy Tunnel: I repeat the activity once or twice over several lessons, in order for everyone to have a turn.

The Happy Tunnel: I repeat the activity once or twice over several lessons, in order for everyone to have a turn.

I ask the child to walk slowly through the tunnel. The rest of the class whisper or say their sentences.The child then comes out of the tunnel with a big smile!! If time is not enough for everyone to have a turn  , I repeat the activity once or twice over several lessons.

This special activity ,which I just love, makes students feel good about themselves. It also helps them to realize how easy it is to make other people feel good too, thereby creating a positive atmosphere for learning. We  should brainstorm positive adjectives to describe people, before this activity.



Happiness is on the way!….


More  adjectives  students could  use to describe the… protagonists: “positive, quick, friendly, unique, good- humoured, sweet, intelligent, peaceful, kind, enthusiastic, funny, witty, brave, calm, responsible, polite, angelic.”

In my class, his moment resulted to be a very special one. Some students expressed how moved they felt and they thanked  their friends for what they have shared.

This activity helped to honour their uniqueness, it focused on their good qualities contributing to develop a positive self- image.

Task 4


I usually do this activity as soon as we come  back to school. But, it’s nice to keep this letters exchange going  , both between the teacher and the students and among the students, throughout the school year! In my classroom, there is a letter box we use to do so…We open it ,every Friday, to read our  mail!!

I give children the opportunity to tell me a few  things they like about themselves.  I prompt them to state things they can do well, things they feel good about. I am always  surprised at how many children suffering with low self-esteem have difficulty with this task – I usually ,need to provide prompts.

I always make sure that, in my reply letter I help  them build  self-esteem through praise and affirmations.



Get to know your students by having them write you a letter.

Build your students'self-esteem through praise and affirmations

Build your students’self-esteem through praise and affirmations

Task 5


I bring a sack with a running shoe, a bread pan, a piece of stained glass, something of my daughter’s etc .I group students and dump a few things on each table.Then, I give them a few minutes to say what they think each item says about me !I invite them to bring their own sack on the following day and I am  always surprised of how many kids  actually, bring one!  It is fun to see how excited the kids get when they discover that a classmate has something in common with them. They are so proud to talk about their special talents and interests, in front of their classmates! When it is my kids’ turn to let their classmates guess about the items in their bags, they share so many personal stories, too!  This activity, definitely boosts their self-esteem!


During the next lesson, students bring their own bags and let their classmates guess about the items in it!

Me in a bag activity, day 2: Students bring their own bags and let their classmates guess about the items in it which have to about their special talents and interests or their life in general!


Task 6


I bring a ball of yarn in class. Then, I ask the students to say their name and an interesting fact about themselves. Holding the end, they toss the ball to another student. That student will say their name and an intersting fact or what makes them unique! By the time everyone has spoken , there will be a large web of yarn which reminds the students of the bond we share with each other!


mos2014 self est web2

I am special because….

mos2014 self est web3

This web, could be displayed on the bulletin board with thump tacks, later!


I’d say that, these activities have been of utmost important in helping each student feel unique in front of his/her classmates and to develop group bonds. Students were able to understand what the other was feeling.

Quoting White (1997), “For a short time the academic curriculum is set aside and affective education, i.e. education of the emotions, is dealt with in a structured way.” “When harmony reigns, learning flourishes”.

Self-esteem is needed life-long and we need to remember the important role we play to enhance or damage a child’s self-esteem.

This is the book you can find the "Happy Tunnel" activity, among many more really interesting ones! Highly recommended!

This is the book you can find the “Happy Tunnel” activity, among many more really interesting ones! Highly recommended!




Real FUN games -part a

Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to young children can be a stressful, pulsating nightmare of runny noses, drool and hysterical crying (and then there are the kids).

So it’s important to have a repertoire of simple, easy -to-play games up your sleeve for those days when your usual teaching ideas and practices , don’t work.

The games and activities  below are FUN, old time favourites for me!

The fashion show

mosaic game draw 5


To practise the order of adjectives, the students become …models !!

They take turns and walk like fashion models on the catwalk!

The other students use opinion, colour, material etc adjectives, to describe what the model is wearing and make comments on his/her clothes!

mosaic game draw 4


Example: She’s wearing a cute, pink, woollen sweater! It suits her!

He is wearing  smart, dark blue,denim jeans! They match his t-shirt!

Chain drawings

mosaic game draw


Each player has a sheet of paper and begins by drawing the head of a person as far as the neck.

All the players, fold the top of the sheet over to hide the head , leaving just the neck showing. They then, passes  his  sheet on to the next person who draws the body including the arms but not the hands!The paper is folded again with just the waist and wrists left  showing and the papers are passed on..This time the player draws the legs down to the knee and the hands. Finally, the player draws the lower legs and feet!

mosaic game draw 2

The papers are passed on for the last time and the players unfold their pictures for everyone to enjoy!

We compare and contrast out pictures, we describe them in detail  and have loads of laugh!



Story circle

mos14languages class


Each player writes the opening line of a story at the top of his sheet of paper. I give them instructions about what to write each time.

First they have to write ” the name and surname of a man we all know, and some characteristics of him” He  can be a famous athlete an  artist or even a teacher or a classmate!

All the players, fold the top of the sheet over to hide what’s written and pass their sheet on to the next person.

The second sentence is about ” a woman we all know and some characteristics of her”

They fold again and pass it on.

The third sentence is about ” where they first met and how”

The fourth one is  about ”  HIS first words to her ”

The fifth sentence , about” HER  reply or reaction ”

The next one about ” what happened next”

On the last round each player must write a sentence to end the story! The final sentence is about  ” what happened in the end”…was it a happy ending or not?

It’s pure fun when we read our stories aloud!

It’s also a way for me to spot weaknesses in their writing…To  find out what grammatical/vocabulary  mistakes students are making in general! I usually ask them to do this activity during the first week at school, especially with a new class..!

The writing half hour



Once a month, I introduce a writing half hour when students -6th graders- aren’t allowed to talk and can communicate only in writing!

I explain that:

for the next 30 minutes, students can communicate with everyone in the classroom and communicate about anything but, are not allowed to talk, only write.The things that they write will not be individually corrected!

The purpose of this activity is to give students confidence and practice in writing.

I answer any questions that students may have .

I carry around paper myself and write notes and questions to my students!

It is a good chance to ask individual questions that they might not feel safe talking about at other times!

“Hi, Maria. I noticed that you look a bit tired today.Are you feeling o.k?”

” Paul, you looked confused when we studied the simple past last week. Do you need more help with this?’




Don’t be surprised if students are a little bewildered at first.

In later weeks, I give them tasks to perform during the half hour.For example, I ask the girls to find out if boys in class enjoy a particular sport/activity   more than them!

At the end of each activity, I collect all the papers and find out what grammatical mistakes students are making in general.But, I make sure I don’t tell an individual student what mistakes he or she has made , as this may inhibit, his desire to communicate.

It can make a welcome break in noisy classes!

To be continued….