Experiencing flipped classroom and blended learning

FIRST THINGS FIRST

What is the flipped classroom?

The flipped classroom is just one of the latest e-learning models which has made its way into classrooms around the world. The pedagogical model sets out to reverse the role of teaching with homework, whereby students would typically digest new educational content outside of their classroom. Teachers would then use their classroom sessions to allow students to apply the information learned, through a series of practical assignments.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning, on the other hand, involves both online learning as well as in a brick-and-mortar location. In a blended learning classroom, both online and traditional teaching methods are utilized to provide a more effective learning experience for the students. Teachers would typically employ online learning components such as educational videos, games, online learning material and podcasts.”

What is a flipped classroom approach?

The Flipped Classroom is a blended learning model in which traditional ideas about classroom activities and homework are reversed, or “flipped.” In this model, instructors have students interact with new material for homework first.

Flipped classroom

Like many educators, I leapt into the world of virtual learning last spring due to COVID-19 school closures. While some teachers have spent years immersed in the world of technologyI was adjusting to sitting behind a screen and figuring out how to best translate the benefits of in-person learning to the virtual world and how to use technology-supported instruction to enhance student learning.

However, as we shifted to distance learning last spring, we had to take the best of blended learning and adjust it to exist in a completely virtual world.

As we transitioned to remote learning, we worked to capture the benefits of “traditional” in-person learning through live, virtual smaller-group classes. I found that this was ideal for our quieter students (who loved using the chat feature to share ideas) and also allowed teachers to connect with students in even deeper, more authentic ways despite the distance.

The flipped-classroom model, whether virtual or in person, has been a gift for many of my students, most notably those with learning differences or more introverted kids. I have realised that the flipped model places a greater emphasis on the student putting in more of their own intellectual effort, leading to greater retention of the material and a significant increase in confidence.

Blended learning also incorporates online learning tools, whether it is in class or at home, that can offer more personalized learning experiences for students. Furthermore, blended learning can incorporate gamification to keep students engaged and motivated.

I firmly believe that, as educators ,we will have to continue to examine and evaluate how to maximize teacher-student interactions as well as online learning tools to support instruction and student development. While this year is sure to bring more challenges, it is equally likely that there will be incredible growth and development along the way.

Why flipped classrooms work for distance learning

Distance learning provides the ideal opportunity for trying out the flipped classroom, as students are doing so much learning from home anyway. It will build on and improve our relationship with our students, as the teacher-student dynamic shifts from a less instructional model to a more collaborative one. And this can help with motivation, too. When our class time is all about practical application of ideas, supporting student understanding and peer-to-peer collaboration, it makes for a more dynamic and engaging online class.

Blended Learning

I have long been interested in ‘Blended Learning’ . It remains a ‘buzz’ term in language teaching, although it means different things to different people. 

Generation Z – that is young people born between 1995 and the mid-2000s – has grown up with the internet, Google, and social networking. A world without the web and related technology is almost unimaginable for them; it brings them freedom, autonomy and their online identities are an important part of their lives.

Blended learning creates opportunities for students to engage with English outside of the classroom, through games and practice that they can access on mobile devices or computers at home or on the go.

Why blend?

There are many reasons for transitioning to blended learning.

One common reason is to combine the well-known positives of classroom teaching with the advantages of online learning, considered to be studying at the students’ own pace, at a place of their choice; and differentiation – using the online platform as a way of delivering personalized, individual learning-when possible.

Time is another reason. There is simply not enough time for language learners to cover everything within the constraints of the class timetable. Indeed, some language areas are best suited to self-study, such as extensive reading and practising difficult phonemes.

We can incorporate digital technology into our classroom lessons along with traditional methods of instruction. I have realized that switching between computer-based or gamified learning and face-to-face instruction keeps my students engaged in their learning and strengthen lessons.

Possible challenges

-The students who enjoy the class may not contribute to the knowledge building occurring in the online environment, while those who enjoy working online may dislike the time restrictions etc

-Learners ( and some parents…) may not see the link between their lessons and online work. They sometimes perceive the online components to be of lesser value and fail to do the online work.

– Technical problems can prove de-motivating.

A FEW FINAL NOTES

A.

Which online platforms/tools are MY most favourite and can be used for blended learning?

Quizizz: A game-based learning tool that can be used for instruction, both in and out of class, or for students to create their own games as more authentic practice. Quizizz has thousands of games available in the library and recently added a student log-in that enables students to track their progress and gives them access to prior games played so they can always go back and review. Having this available to students makes it more personalized because students can get extra practice whenever they need it.

Kahoot!: An engaging and popular game-based site that provides opportunities for students to take control of their learning and us ,educators to track student development. 

Challenges with Kahoot have become quite popular, among teachers and students. Teachers can “challenge” students to participate in a game as a way to practice the content or review for an assessment. Students can even challenge each other by sharing games and codes, which makes it good for peer collaboration and building social-emotional learning skills.

Padlet is an Internet-based application that can be used like a virtual pinboard, making it ideal for collaborating and sharing ideas and resources.  While there are numerous online tools that can be used for similar purposes, I think that Padlet is ideal for anyone considering blended learning.

B.

Digital learning web tools I have tried, and I recommend

Click here, to read an older blog post about them

Learning ,by acting and doing! #Experiential learning.

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Ι assume,all teachers recognize that children learn best through direct experience ,simply by providing them abundant opportunities for experiential learning—experiential learning is the process of learning by doing. By engaging students in hands-on experiences and reflection, they are better able to connect theories and knowledge learned in the classroom to real-world situations.

To me, the way we learn is the way we approach life in general. It is also the way we solve problems, make decisions, and meet life’s challenges. Learning occurs in any setting and continues throughout our life. 

“There are two goals in the experiential learning process. One is to learn the specifics of a particular subject, and the other is to learn about one’s own learning process.”
— David A. Kolb

At the core of my classes, self-directed play and exploration of materials allow for cooperative social interaction and support my students’ construction of knowledge about the world around them and this is crucial!

SOME THEORY

THE EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING CYCLE

According to research, learners retain 75% of what they do compared to 5% of what they hear or 10% of what they read (study). In a world where there are many distractions amongst the learning environment (think cell phones and other forms of technology), experiential learning keeps students engaged and attentive to the learning goal .

David Kolb’s work on the experiential learning cycle is among the most influential approaches to learning I have read about.

The experiential learning cycle is a four-step learning process: Experience – Reflect – Think – Act.

While verb drills and memorisation may have their places in language acquisition, taking a more interactive approach can offer students a wide range of important benefits when learning English.

All in all, by practicing their language skills through fun activities like cooking, photography, arts and crafts, music, drama, and sports, students can develop their skills much more quickly than they would through less active teaching methods.

“Learning by doing” can also boost students’ motivation and desire to learn, help them develop practical language skills that can be applied in their daily lives, and boost their confidence in their own English language abilities.

When students are learning a new language, it’s important not only to equip them with the basic grammar and vocabulary they’ll need to progress, but also to spark their interest and keep them motivated.

Therefore, learning English through fun activities makes second language acquisition an engaging, joyful, and interactive experience, building students’ motivation and ensuring they’re always looking forward to their next English lesson.

Benefits of Experiential Learning

There are many benefits to experiential learning.For example, students are able to receive a deeper understanding of the content being taught. Experiential learning also increases engagement and participation. 

By incorporating experiential learning into our curricular learning, we can result in a real mindset change, through learning skills such as leadership, empathy, collaboration, and communication through meaningful opportunities to practice.

If these benefits have not convinced you on this teaching and learning method, below there are a few experiential learning activities that have worked in my classes and  you can use in your class to help solidify the use of more hands-on activities in your classroom.

A growth mindset embraces learning by doing.

In my experience, students respond better when being engaged in practical activities, rather than reading from textbooks.

So, getting the children involved in practical activities that teach them English, among other subjects, is a highly effective way of engaging them in their learning.

Gone are the days when I was a student and where we were seated in rows and listened, for what seemed like hours, to the teacher on a particular topic.  It was as if the students were considered empty vessels to fill up. There was no time for trial and error for us to ‘play’ with various concepts or to learn a particular concept further. 

Course material would be taught in a predetermined way . With little ‘play’, one approach to learning and a fixed way of looking at the learning process, this could only lead to a very limited mindset to what each individual student could achieve.

Contrary to this view and at the heart of what makes the growth mindset( please, click on the link to read all about it in an older blog post of mine) so winsome, Dweck found, is that it creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval.

 

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Experiential Learning Activities to try ,that have worked in my class

Scavenger Hunt

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Scavenger hunts are great experiential learning activities that get students moving and thinking. These hunts often involve having students solve riddles and clues, and students must work together to get to the next stop. Make the hunt lead to a reveal of the class field trip, incentive party, or as a study guide before the next test. The options are limitless and sure to excite our learners!

Put on a Play

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What better way for our students to work on their cooperation, leadership, and creativity skills than by practicing and presenting a play. Maybe our students have just learned a new topic.. Use a pre-found script (a simple Google search is sure to provide many), or have older students create their own. You can also use the course book dialogues or a picture book as a starting point for a play. Theater is a great hands-on experience, and my students do love showing off their acting skills!

Engineering and ELT?

Giving students the opportunity to build is appealing for so many. These sorts of experiential learning activities can be used as part of the curriculum, for brain breaks, for projects or as fun school-wide competitions. You can have students use straws and other recyclable materials to build practically anything related to any topic! The competitive atmosphere of these sorts of building competitions creates excitement and fosters class unity.

Games students play

Games or gamification of courses can be a way of keeping students engaged and motivated while achieving the learning goals in a way that is fun and low risk. Points ,stickers or badges can be awarded for satisfactory participation or completion of the game or goals in the game. Allowing repeat play of games also enables students to see failure as  indication that more work is needed to master the skill or knowledge at hand.

As educators, we can incorporate gaming elements (gamification) into other components of our course, include gaming activities or even structure the entire course like a game!

Games or gaming elements can be designed to be competitive or non-competitive. A competitive element, such as an individual-based or team-based point system, can facilitate friendly competition to make activities or the course fun and active. Games can also be non-competitive and have students work towards achievements and badges in class that signify proficiency with a learning outcome or goal. I have tried both, I can recommend both.

Ask students to bring in their own realia

If you want to get to know students better you can ask them to bring in several items from home that they feel represent them. If you’re teaching online, students can hold objects up to their camera instead. Have them present these items to the class and explain why they chose each object. For a variation of this activity, have classmates guess how the objects represent their fellow students. Students love to share things about themselves and are usually excited about activities that involve getting to talk about their own lives.

 Incorporate realia into a writing prompt

To make writing assignments come to life, I often bring in random objects and place them at the front of the classroom. I have students write a short story (usually with a prompt) incorporating all or a certain number of the objects. This activity gets students to think outside of the box and reflect on how we use the vocabulary they’ve learned in everyday life. It’s a great one for both the physical and virtual classroom as well, as you can simply hold the objects up to the screen if you’re teaching online.

Memory

I in a virtual classroom, quickly pass objects by the screen, one after the other. See if students can recall which objects they saw and whether they can name them in the correct order. If you’re in a physical classroom, you can set the items out on a desk and hide each object under a cloth ,in a box or in a paper bag. Then, lift the bag/cloth/box for a few seconds to reveal the object. You could also play “Memory” with hand-made vocabulary cards or use any items available such as cups, maps, toys, to help students boost their memory .

To me, if you’re wondering how to teach/revise vocabulary, this is a great activity, as you can choose items from a specific theme/category (ABC,food, sports, objects that are different shapes or colors, etc.).

 What is it?

I suggest that you fill a bag/box with realia and have students take turns trying to guess what one of the objects is by putting their hand in the bag/box and feeling it. They can use vocabulary to describe the object to their classmates as they guess. This game can be adapted to the virtual classroom by hiding an object in a bag or under a cloth. Students can have a look at the shape and listen to you describe the object (e.g., it’s heavy, it’s round, etc.) while they try to guess what it is.

CONCLUSION

We all know that,every child learns in a way that is unique to themselves. Experiential learning activities help to take all students’ learning styles and make the activity suitable for a diverse group of learners. The benefits make experiential teaching worth a try. So do a scavenger hunt, put on a play, plant some seeds, rot an apple, or build a tower. Students are sure to walk away with powerful and memorable learning experiences.

Here is a link to visit and find out a lot more about experiential learning activities and useful tables such as this one, below.

Traditional learning activities

Experiential learning activities

Teacher-centered/focused Student-centered/focused
Learning outcomes are prescribed to a fixed rubric or scoring system Learning outcomes are flexible and open
Aim to explain knowledge and/or skills by transferring information Aim to develop knowledge and skills through experience
Fixed structure, high degree of facilitation Flexible structure, minimal facilitation

Christmas fun in class- and few post-holiday class activities

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I have been the class Christmas lessons  planner for many-many years. We have games, crafts, fun language activities, and an absolute blast with my students. I also always have printable games on hand, just in case I need to fill some time. Usually, though, we end up with way more fun than there is time for.

This year, I used most of the activities I have already written about, in older posts, and added few new ones…

In this post,I just wish to share some pictures, which prove how much fun we had, while learning new things about Christmas and practicing our English , at the same time!

For more details about most of them, please, feel free to read my earlier relevant blog posts, here , here or here.

This year, we made beautiful 3D crafts with my little ones, learning the Christmas vocabulary a, at the same time.

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We played lots of fun games, with all classes!

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We sang Christmas songs!

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We even sang old-time-classic songs  such as “The rainbow song”, using Christmas ornaments!!

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We made Advent calendars!

 

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We decorated our special Christmas trees!

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We wrote Santa letters and met one of his best friends!

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Here  are some cool post-holiday classroom activities I have come across online and I have decided to use in my class next week!

I hope, they’ll work!

POST-HOLIDAY CLASS ACTIVITIES

We  should try to avoid diving right into the schoolwork after break. Instead, I think we should make the adjustment a little bit easier by welcoming students back with fun activities that incorporate what they did over their holiday vacations.

Let’s get our students back on track and motivated to learn once again.

Create a Holiday Memory Book

Have students capture their best holiday moments in a memory book. Students will have more than enough to share, and a memory book is a great way to do that. Ask students to draw or bring in a picture of their favorite holiday outing or gift. Then ask students to write a few sentences about it. Once students have completed their memory book page, have them share it with the class or bind them all together to make a class book.

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 Make New Year Resolutions

Returning from holiday break is the perfect time to teach students how to reflect upon the past year and to make positive changes for the new year. Tell students that the new year means a fresh start and they can make promises to themselves that are positive and realistic. As a class, brainstorm a few resolutions together. Give them the following prompts to get started.

  • In 2015 I want to learn …
  • In 2015 I want to get better at …
  • My goal(s) for 2017 are …

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Have a Show and Tell

As soon as students enter the classroom after winter break, they inundate you (and each other) with stories about what every student received from Santa, or all of the fun places that they went while on break. What’s a better way to share all of their experiences and new toys then to bring something in for a little old show and tell? For a different spin on the traditional activity, try having students guess who brought what item in.

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Creative Writing Prompts

A creative and calm activity to get your energetic students back into the grind is to have them write about what they did and received over break. Students can get the opportunity to discuss their adventures in a fun writing piece. For instance, ask students to write about the best gift they gave and what made it so special, or describe their family’s holiday traditions in detail. Here are a few more creative writing prompts.

  • What are you most grateful for this holiday season?
  • What was your favorite holiday food that you had over break?
  • Who was the person you spent the most time with and why? What did you do with them?
  • Write about a place that you went over the Christmas break.
  • Write about something you did with your family over Christmas break.

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Play a Fun Game

Welcome your students back to school with a few fun games! Try to avoid piling on the schoolwork right away and instead try playing a few fun games to ease students back into the routine. Review games are a great choice for easing students back in. Try games like the “Hot Seat” where one student faces away from the board and chooses three people to give them clues about what is written on the board behind them. Another fun game is “Ping Pong,” where students are divided into teams of two and the team that gets the answer correct gets to throw a ping pong ball into a one of three cups to get a prize for their team. Prizes are things like a homework free pass or lunch in the classroom.

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Host a Party?

Before you must get back to all the school chaos and your crazy school day routine, kick off the first day or two back to school with a party! Invite the classroom next to yours over for some cookies and hot chocolate. Allow students to share their holiday break stories over a warm cup of cocoa! Students will love the ease and flow of a relaxing day back to school.

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Christmas break was a time for rest and relaxation, so it’s important to remember to ease students back into the school routine slowly and carefully. This will ensure that everyone will be motivated and ready to learn in no time.

My favourite attention getters…

Whole Brain Teaching posters, behind my desk in the classroom!

Whole Brain Teaching and attention getters posters, behind my desk in the classroom!

As teachers, we know the value of having good attention getters to calm a noisy classroom.  I have always wanted a comprehensive list of all of the most effective attention getters I have used , in one spot…

My most favourite attention getter, by far is : WBT- “Class Class Class”, they respond with “Yes, Yes, Yes”. In the exact same way the teacher said, whether a high or low voice, silly or whatever.  I say class they say yes. I say classity class class, they say yesity yes yes. All students  love it. I change the tone of my voice and they change the tone in theirs.

My class magic bell!

My class magic bell!

Whole Brain Teaching is based on brain based learning. The technique to consistently catch the attention of your class is simple. It is so simple, and effective that I kicked myself for not having thought of it myself years ago, and have lamented many times since the instructional time I lost for not having known this.

Simple, hunh? It is amazing how effective this approach is.

Whole Brain Teaching uses a very simple and effective approach. Whole Brain Teaching injects fun back into the classroom for both me  and my class.

One day I was trying to come up with something different from what they may have had in the past, and then I found this on line ! I say “Alright stop!” And the students say “collaborate and listen!” It’s perfect because they really do have to do those things, come together and listen. I love it!

Happy teachers=Happy students

Happy teachers=Happy students

I say Pop , kids say corn. I say Apple, kids say Sauce. I say hot, kids say dog. I say milk, kids say shake. You can do it with any word combo as long as kids know that when they say the word it means freeze and eyes on me.

I have also tried ..: If you can hear my voice, clap once.  If you can hear my voice, clap twice.  I start at a whisper and they are silent by 4 claps…best part is no yelling.

I put a little bell on my desk last year and it was magical! The kids love it –I just use it when I need their full attention or when I want them to know that time is up for some activity we do….

If you are in need of some great attention getters to quiet your classroom, this additional list below is just for you!  You can  save it for when you need them on the fly!

It can be found behind my desk in my classroom, along with the Whole Brain Teaching rules !

Me,saying " Class, class, class"!!

Me,saying ” Class, class, class”!!

 

Teacher                                     Students

NEVER ———————> GIVE UP!

 

WORK————————> HARD!

 

L-I-S—————————> T-E-N! LISTEN!

 

WHO LOVES YOU?———> YOU DO!

 

ARE YOU FOCUSED?——–>YES, I AM!

 

ALL SET————————–> YOU BET!

 

HOCUS POCUS—————> EVERYBODY FOCUS!

 

MACARONI AND CHEESE—————–> EVERYBODY FREEZE

 

3,  2,  1……—————————>( CLAP)!

 

1,2,3  EYES ON ME ———————–> 1,2 EYES ON YOU!

 

And the old-time-classic :

 

YAKETY YAK———> DON’T TALK BACK!

"Oh, class! Oh, yes!"

“Oh, class! Oh, yes!”

 

If you liked this post , be sure to share it with  your teacher colleagues struggling to get their students’ attention ,every day..! Because ,happy teachers=happy students!

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Creative ways of revising vocabulary

 

4th graders project: the weather foracast for tomorrow on our class....TV! We used a huge frame ,made from a card box, as a TV ! They had to use a map of Greece and report about the weather conditions in different parts of the country....it was lots of fun!

4th graders project: the weather foracast for tomorrow on our class….TV! We used a huge frame ,made from a card box, as a TV ! They had to use a map of Greece and report about the weather conditions in different parts of the country….it was lots of fun!

Some old-time-classic  vocabulary games, I love.

They say that, to stimulate long-term memory ideally, words would be reviewed 5-10 minutes after class, 24 hours later, one week later, one month later, and finally six months later.

Unless these new language items are noticed and understood on multiple occasions, they will likely fade from memory and be forgotten.

Over the past decade, I’ve put together a variety of sure-fire and engaging vocabulary recycling activities drawn from a number of sources: resource books, teachers, trainers, and some of which are of my own invention. You could also give them a try….

Taboo-hot seat

Divide the class into teams A and B. One member from each team plays at a time. The teacher scribbles a word on the board and gives the team one minute to get their teammate to say the item. If the hot-seated player manages to say the word, the teacher quickly writes another item on the board and so on until the minute is up. The team scores a point for every item they manage to say within one minute.

Taboo!

Taboo!

Memory challenge

Put the students into pairs or small groups. Give them a time limit (e.g. 3 minutes) and ask them to write down as many words, phrases, and/or expressions as they can from the last lesson on topic X. The pair or group that can remember the most items wins.

Variation a: To add a spelling accuracy component, teams can also earn an extra point for each correctly spelt item.

Variation b: I love it when I use music to help them brainstorm vocabulary in this game! An example is when we  revise the Season’s vocabulary and I eg have them listen to Vivaldi ” Four Seasons” while writing….

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Brainstorming!...

Brainstorming!…

 

Pictionary

Divide the class into Teams A and B. Team A sits in a group on one side of the classroom, Team B sits on the other side. One member from each team goes to the board. The teacher flashes them a word, phrase, or expression written on a piece of paper. The students have one minute to get their respective team to say the item only by drawing pictorial clues on the board. Written words, verbal clues, or gestures are forbidden. The first team to say the word scores a point.

Variation: With younger students, I draw the word in three steps: First, I draw 2-3 lines. If they get the word right, they get 3 points for their team. secondly, I draw half of the word pictorial clues. If they now get it right, they get 2 points . Finally, I draw all the pictorial clues and in case they manage to get the word right, I award them 1 point or no points at all, if they aren’t able to figure it out!

Pictionary

Pictionary

Bingo

I love playing Bingo revision games with kids! There are many variations..this one, is one of my favourite ones.

The teacher writes up 20 words, phrases and/or expressions on the board. Each student chooses any 9 of the items from the board and writes them down. The teacher then selects one of the items at random (bits of paper from a hat, for example) and offers a brief definition or synonym of the item but does not say the word itself. If a student thinks they have the word the teacher described, they tick it. When a student ticks all of their words, they shout BINGO!! The first student to shout BINGO wins the round. Additional rounds can be played with different sets of words.

Playing Bingo with lists of words!

Playing Bingo with lists of words!

Scrabbled letters

Write up eight words with their letters shuffled (e.g. eicscen for science) on the board. When the teacher says ‘go’, the students, individually or in pairs, endeavor to untangle the words as quickly as they can. The first student or pair, to do so wins. The teacher can then quickly run through each of the scrambled letter groups on the board, eliciting information about each word or concept. Tip: Don’t make them too difficult.

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Categories ( Aka The alphabet game)

Divide the class into 3 or 4 teams and assign a secretary for each group. On one side of the board, write down six categories related to the current topic or syllabus of your course (e.g. countries, sports, jobs, movies, furniture, verbs, things that are round). To start the game, the teacher randomly selects a letter of the alphabet and scribbles it onto the board. Each team must then work together to quickly find a word for each of the six categories that starts with the chosen letter. The first team to complete all six categories shouts “stop!” The class then stops writing, and a member of the team goes to the board to fill in the categories. The teacher then checks each word with the class and also elicits what other teams had for each category. If the quickest team has filled in each category correctly, they earn one point for their team. The teacher then chooses a different letter and another round is played. The first team to score X number of points wins.

The Alphabet game.

The Alphabet game.Working in teams.

Vocabulary fun activities 

The Dolls’ House.

To help them revise the house rooms and furniture as well as the prepositions of place, I have them decide how to decorate a dolls’ house . They are asked to place the pieces of furniture anywhere in the house they wish, and tell the class about each change they make to the previous furniture arrangements. eg ” The sofa is in the kitchen now, next to the fridge”

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This is a handmade dolls’ house, that I made with my daughter at home , some years ago reusing some old supermarket boxes…

Feelings

Instead of asking them to write a boring dictation on  the adjectives that describe feelings, I ask them to find photos that show different feelings and moods and bring them to class.They  use them to play several guessing games with their classmates, in teams!

 

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Seasons poetry

When I want them to revise all the Seasons Vocabulary, I have them write their own poems using it, and recite them  in class where we hold a poetry competition and finally vote for our favourite poems! I often have them work in pairs: one of them is the poet while the other one is the artist who reads the poetry and creates his/her work of art, being inspired by it! The artist, has to talk to the class about his picture, using as much of the target vocabulary as possible.

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My special talents

When I want them to revise the sports and free time activities, instead of giving them a test, I have them stand up and show the class what they are good at, or what their special talent is. They are free to even teach the class about their special abilities . Such a good activity to enhance self-esteem , too!

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I am good at tae-kwon-do!

 

 

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Practicing both vocabulary and CAN/CAN’T for ability.

The Apple tree

This is basically a scoring game, and can be used in various different ways.I mainly play it to test new words and  spelling !

1. Put the kids in groups (6 is usually good as there are usually 6 rows of desks), but keep them seated at their desks.

2. Draw pictures of trees on the board, one tree for each group. Each tree has 9 “rungs” (add more or less depending on the amount of time you wish to play), and some apples  at the top. (see the picture above) This takes about 1 minute if you’re quick!

4. During the game you play some music (something fast and dancey). When the music plays the kids pass a ball around (no throwing!!).

5. You stop the music.

6. You then ask the person holding the ball a question (“What’s this? How are you? What’s your name? etc.) My variation is spelling new words!

7. If the student gets it right then their team’s animal climbs one rung up the tree!

8. Repeat from step 4 until one team reaches the top – and the apples!

This is good for a review session, or even for practicing new vocab. 9 rungs lasts about 20 minutes. After the first few tries I then ask questions that are worth 2 “rungs”, or even ask the kids if they want an easy question for 1 point or a tricky one for 2 points!!

 

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The apple tree board game-revising nationalities

The weather forecast

Instead of asking the kids to write boring weather reports, I ask them to predict about next week’s weather and report to the class on….our class TV! They talk about their predictions using their  weather map and we can  even adjust the…volume holding imaginary remote controls !It’s loads of fun!

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My favourite sports board game

To revise the sports vocabulary, I usually have them play a vocabulary board game, in pairs! They have to say the name of the sport in the picture they land on , to be able to move on to the next level. I ask older students to use the sport word in a sentence instead.

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This is the book page with the new words.

Dancers and poets

When I want my students to revise new words, especially adjectives, I usually ask them to work in pairs. One of them is the poet, the other one is the dancer. The poet, writes a poem using as much  of the target vocabulary as possible. The dancer is dancing while the poet is reciting his poem …according to the verse content, trying to express his/her feelings listening to it!It can become, hilarious! Students, love both to watch and participate in  these …performances in which, improvisation rules !!

 

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My friend is….

I love working with adjectives! To revise them, one of the things I do is to ask my students to write their names on a sheet of paper, then put all  those sheets  up on the classroom walls and finally ask the students to  walk around the classroom and write adjectives next to each name which they think characterize their friends! I always ask them to focus on the positive characteristics of their classmates! It’s a nice way to boost self-esteem too….We later, collect the sheets of paper and comment on them. Fun!

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School objects hidden

Instead of giving my 3rd graders boring dictation on school objects, I prefer playing fun vocabulary games with them. One old-time-classic game  is the following : I hide different school objects under a piece of cloth and have them touch the object without looking to guess what they are ! They work in teams and for each correct guess they make , they get one point for their team!

 

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Look, taste, smell….

To practice grammar, I also play games..

One example is the way I ask them to practice and revise the Sense Verbs . I ask a student to…take off his/her shoe and ask another student to….. smell it and tell us how it…smells! ! It’s hilarious…! Then I ask a student to keep  his/her mouth wide open and ask the student sitting next to him/her to say how it looks!! I might also ask them to smell his/her breath and comment on it!! Sounds disgusting , ha? But, the children love it! I might also ask a male student to kiss a girl’s hand a tell us the taste or smell of it…! Touch her hair and produce sentences like: ” It feels soft”!The list of the fun things I ask them to do is endless! They just don’t want us to stop! The more I ask them to do, the more they practice using the Sense Verbs !

 

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Learning grammar, the fun way!

 

Another example is, the activity we do to practice the  Order of Adjectives ,when 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!

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

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

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A top model, in our English class!

The cute Monsters Posters

To have my students practice the words that describe  People and Physical Characteristics I ask them to use them to describe an imaginary creature on a poster!

They have to think about the following before they create their monster:

  • What colour is he?
  • What colour arms and legs does he have?
  • What does he look like? (Tell us about his eyes, his ears and his mouth.)
  • What can he do?

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Then, they write up a profile for their monster including his/her appearance, personality, traits, skills/powers, monster friends, enemies, hobbies and where it lives – or if they are a bad guy monster you can replace the hobbies bit with ‘Strategy’ and put ‘Weakness’ at the bottom and write down what their weaknesses are.

Finally, I ask them to draw their monster!

The only limit is their imagination….

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Drama activities to have them speak 

I rarely have my students read the text or dialogues from our book aloud…I prefer to have them act the story out in groups- from a very early age.

Sketses promote active learning, enriching and reinforcing their more traditional school experiences. In addition most children are excited by the prospect of performing in front of others as a chance to be the center of attention.  So, when it comes to teaching English as a second language, no matter the age of the student, drama and children are a winning combination.

Children love being part of something.  Preparing an ESL skit together is a bonding experience for the group.  All children are involved, from the shyest to the most outspoken and all contribute to the final outcome. Children want to belong and being part of a play allows that to happen.

You don’t have time NOT to use ESL plays.  Drama is not an addition to my 26 units, but a method of teaching them more effectively.  It does not matter if you can’t act – the children will be doing the acting and they are the experts!

The conversational use of language in an ESL play script promotes fluency. While learning a play, children listen to and repeat their lines over a period of time. By repeating the words and phrases they become familiar with them and are able to say them with increasing fluency.

The mime itself can act as a catalyst to generate and elicit language before, during and after the activity.

The mime itself can act as a catalyst to generate and elicit language before, during and after the activity.

The teacher’s own enthusiasm also goes a long way towards motivating a child. Anyone who has taught a classroom of children knows how quickly they pick up and reflect your moods. If you think your English lesson is boring, so will they!

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The plays DO GET THEM TO SPEAK. And this is a very rewarding experience for us, teachers, to hear them SPEAK, not just use the target vocabulary.

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Teaching and revising vocabulary has become easier for me  through all these fun activities ,as for the children every single new word they are learning is now more meaningful as it is connected with their real life experiences in class .

Building self- esteem, on day one- part 1

 

Passing the ball self-esteem games

Passing the ball self-esteem games

 

I always include creative activities to build self-esteem in my curriculum. We all know that, students  with low self-esteem often can feel powerless, lonely, resentful, defensive and easily frustrated. These feelings can lead to aggression, teasing and bullying behaviour. Students with high self-esteem are proud of themselves, assume responsibility for their own actions and deal with frustration well.

I deal with such self-esteem building activities, mainly during the first two weeks of each new school year! But, I do make sure that, I always  include cooperative, nurturing games in my class, throughout the curriculum.

Passing the ball self-esteem games

Passing the ball self-esteem games

Initially, I introduce   large group activities with all the children. Later during the school year, I create several other self-esteem activities such as  “My Family Book”, a book about themselves and their family (they can draw, use photographs, etc.) “My Tree/My Hand Activities”, in which each child does one leaf about themselves and then, the leaves are all put on the tree. while for “My Hand” each child traces her hand and writes something about herself on each finger. Sometimes, I use books to develop self-esteem ( a favourite one is “The Incredible You! 10 Ways to be Happy, Inside and Out”  by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer) . We also do several writing activities at the beginning of each school year,  such as ” I am special because..” -which I am going to write more about during the following few weeks…..

My name is and I can....

My name is and I can….

First day in class after the summer break today, with my 3rd and 4th graders, after such a long time! I decided to spend half the lesson using the icebreakers below, in order to foster children’s self-esteem. Today’s activities , were used to to reinforce strengths and to help build individual self-esteem before the learning took  place.

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Task 1- the circle 1-sitting

My name is…and this is…(3rd graders)

My name is …and I’m sitting next to…( 4th graders)

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My name is…and I like….

Task 2-the circle 2

My name is….and I can…(4th graders)

Follow up: write down words having to do with the things that you can do well on a Star name tag  template to be put on your desk in order  to help the teacher learn the name YOU would like her to call you.

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The Star- desk name tag template

 

Task 3- the circle 3 and ball-standing

The teacher throws the ball to a diffrent student each time who is asked to shout his/her name as loud and possible with confidence! (3rd -4th graders)

Task 4-the circle 4-standing up

My name is …and I like….(3rd graders)

My name is…and I am good at…(4th graders)

Follow up: write as many things as you can that you are good at.

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My name is…and I’m sitting next to….

 

To be continued……

 

 

The most beautiful english coursebook award!

The winner's Cup!

The winner’s Cup!

I am sure, many of  you will be surprised to know  that, our Greek State school 3rd graders’ English books, have been…black and white for some years now, mainly, due to financial reasons!!

To start with, here’s some basic information for you…..Within the context of the Project entitled “New Foreign Language Education Policy in Schools: English for Young Learners” (EYL), English has been introduced as a compulsory subject in primary school from the first grade in 20% of the primary state schools of the country. In other words, the first foreign language has been introduced at age 6-7 and the programme has been piloted. In the rest of the state schools, foreign language learning starts in the third grade, i.e. at age 8-9. This innovation is one of the components of an enriched school curriculum introduced by the Greek Ministry of Education in 2010-11, on an experimental basis, in 800 of the largest state schools in the country. Thanks to this project therefore, which was expanded in 2011-12 to include 161 more schools operating as enriched-curriculum “all-day” schools, 40% of the first and second grade pupils in Greece are now starting foreign language learning from an early age.

Having a look at the candidate books in groups...

Having a look at the candidate books in groups…

Both our  books,  the Magic Book  pilot edition and Magic Book 2,  have been prepared by two faculty members of the School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The authors,Marina Matthaioudaki and Thomai Alexiou have supervised,edited and contributed to the writing of these books. The rest of the authoring team consists of teacher practitioners with a rich teaching experience at state primary schools. This cooperation between academics and practitioners allowed the team to base their teaching choices and suggestions on theoretical models and on research results in the field of early foreign language learning.The

Magic Book pilot edition is also generating Magic Book 1, ( 3rd graders book)  which will be ready for publication in full colour ,hopefully, this year!

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Τhis is what one of the book pages looks like, after the student’s artistic touch!

I just love our state books!  Their methodological aims really  appeal to me!

  • They use  an eclectic approach (a combination of different approaches, of language learning methodologies and of various techniques) that will motivate and engage learners (e.g. Suggestopedia, Total Physical Response etc.).
  • They select  activities that are conducive to the broader pedagogical aims (development of co-operation skills, development of learning strategies etc.).
  • They select  fun activities and creative tasks that allow learners to approach and process the new language in different ways.

I  enjoyed  using them at first, even in their black and white edition ! But  then,  one day a couple of years ago, I realised that  colour, which was missing, has the ability to make an impact on mood, and  colours appeal to all children because of the way they make them feel. Colours evoke happy or pleasant emotions. It was then, when  I decided to do something about it… And I came up with the idea of a… class competition : the ” most beautiful english course book” competition! That  way,  I would   appeal to the competitive urge in many students by getting them to produce art work for the  competition.

Alexiana,  was among the winners!

Alexiana, was among the winners!

Since that day, at the beginning of each school year, I tell my 3rd graders that, if they wish to take part in our class competition, they have to make sure that they colour every bit of their english  coursebook and make it look as attractive as possible till the end of the school year!

By  the end of the school year , we follow the steps below:

  • Evaluate and reflect upon the  candidate books
  • Develop criteria for our special   Class Book Award category
  • Nominate books that we  feel are worthy of  our Class Book Award status
  • Have a look at books recommended by  students
  • Vote to determine which books will receive our  Class Book Award

Happy owners of really beutiful coursebooks!

Happy owners of really beutiful coursebooks!

I always make sure that a brief discussion ,about what would make a book worthy of a nomination, is held in class!

At first, many students support their best friend’s candidate book but, later after we have discussed in groups and in class about certain criteria , they usually, change their mind…

I later , pass out the final ballots and have students place their votes, I allow students to vote for two books!

Book Award Ceremony

 Once we  have tallied the votes from the ballots, it is time to hold a Book Award ceremony. I try to make this as exciting and authentic as possible. I use a podium for presenters to stand behind when announcing the winners, and I use a fake microphone when I am “hosting” the ceremony. There are little presents for all the participants  and special presents, among which a…cup , for the three best books!

I also, take lots of  photos and put them up on our english class  notice board! They feel so proud!

I have   started  this  art project, simply to engage my third  graders !  I also want them, both  to personalize  their own books and  to express themselves through their artistic talents! I believe that , students must take ownership of their own education, starting with their own  coursebook! My students love this art project, because it’s fun and provides them with authentic self-expression: The freedom of choice, thought, and feeling.

Generally talking , we as teachers , need to be creative and make our  lessons personal to our students in all different ways.  We should give them ownership of all aspects of their learning  and I know we will see a difference, especially when they feel we believe in them and  in their talents !

There are little presents for all the students who dare to participate and special presents among which a…cup , for the three best books!

Native speakers, in our english class…

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Michelle Gerber, is an amazing artist and writer from South Africa! I was honoured to have her in my class!

Connecting kids to the Reason for learning is such an important part of creating and maintaining motivation.  And while the reason for learning another language is to speak with people, many students might pass through an entire year of class without ever speaking with a native speaker of that language.

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She talked to my 4th graders about the jungle and taught them how to draw jungle animals using shapes!

Getting native speakers into the classroom then is one way that I believe we can help students connect with the motivation boosting Purpose for learning language.

There are two challenges in this of course.  The first is finding native speakers with time to come to your class. The second is knowing what to do with them.  I will leave the first problem to you to solve.  Be creative.  Be bold in asking. You can find native speakers pretty much anywhere to help you out with this once in a while.

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She read her beautiful book to my 5th graders and talked about bullying and friendship!

The second is a bit more challenging.  What you don’t want to do is put it on the native speaker to prepare something.  That’s your job as teacher, not theirs.  You could of course have them come and share about a topic – which is a great idea.  Prep your kids the week before by getting them into the topic, preparing questions, listening to recordings of others speaking on the topic and writing about the topic themselves.  I think that would be a great class period and a lot of fun and something you could do regularlyDSCN5035

This, can not only give your students a ton of input in the course of one class period, but also begin to connect them to native speakers.  And it is the connection that will be a big part of creating the motivation that will begin to build in your students a love for the language and the people who speak it.

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She talked with all my classes about her country

 Bringing a guest speaker into our class is an opportunity we should seek out. Our students will be exposed to a different style of spoken English, and they might also learn content that will benefit their educations. Just bringing a guest in and letting him or her speak, however, is not always enough.

Here are some of my  tips to make sure your students are getting the full benefit of the guest speaker experience:

Prepare Your Students on the Topic

All students will benefit from some preparation as to the subject matter your guest will discuss. However, the level to which you should prepare your students will vary greatly depending on the language level of your class.mosaic michelle 5

Prepare Your Students on the Speaker

It is also a good idea to give your students some advanced information about who will be speaking to them.

Prepare Your Students on Behavior

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My students had lots of questions to ask!

For example, they should listen quietly to the guest speaker. They can ask questions, but it is most polite to wait until the end of the presentation to do so. They should make eye contact with the speaker, and it is appropriate to take notes while the presenter is speaking.

Prepare the Speaker on Language Level

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They were highly enganged during all the activities!

Not all speakers are familiar with speakers of English as a second language. In fact, it will probably benefit your class more if your guest speaker is not an ESL teacher. With this in mind, it is not a bad idea to prepare her as to the language level of your students before she comes to class to speak.

Have Your Students Prepare Questions

Thinking of questions for a guest speaker can be very challenging to most ESL students, especially if you ask them to do it on the spot. Therefore, it is beneficial to have your students write some follow-up questions for your speaker before the day he is scheduled to come to class.

Engage Your Students

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My 6th graders had the chance to interview her about her life and homeland!

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Before you even invite a guest speaker, think about what kind of speaker from whom your students would most benefit.

Encourage your speaker to engage your students as she speaks, and select those guest speakers who you think will be able to do this for your class. The lower the language level of your class the more important this engagement is. To help your speaker, make sure you have everything she will need for the presentation including a projector or television if necessary. Make sure you talk with your speaker ahead of time to see what she will need so you are not scrambling when she shows up at your classroom door.

Who to Invite

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Make the most of any connections you can between your curriculum and your guest speaker to benefit your students.

Try to bring in speakers of different ages with different ethnic and geographical backgrounds. It is also helpful if the speaker is not a teacher of English since his or her speech patterns will be more realistic even if more challenging for your students.

Debrief Your Students

Debriefing is important both for making sure your students understood today’s presentation as well as preparing them for future presentations. After your speaker has left and your class has asked their questions, ask your students how they felt about the experience.

It is always important, to thank your guest with a little present made by the whole class!

It is always important, to thank your guest with a little present made by the whole class!

 

Carnival and Mardi Gras activities

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In carnival time, I usually talk to my students about  famous carnivals in the english speaking world! My most favourite one is Mardi Gras!

First, I explain to students what Mardi Gras is and why people celebrate it.
I discuss traditions, festivities and vocabulary associated with Mardi Gras.
I explain the colors of Mardi Gras and what they stand for. In 1892, the Krewe of Rex carried out a Mardi Gras parade whose theme was “Symbolism of Colors.” Green, gold and purple were used. Rex interpreted purple as being symbolic of justice. Green represented faith and gold symbolized power.

Today’s Mardi Gras colors are everywhere: on banners, costumes, masks, beads and colored sugar on king cakes.

Some more things I tell them , can be found below…..

What is Mardi Gras?

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Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival, and even Pancake Day,  in the UK, is an annual festival falling just before Lent. It traditionally marks the last opportunity for fun and feasting before 40 days of “self-denial”. Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” in French.

Festivities begin at the beginning of February, leading up to Mardi Gras day, and consist of parades, dancing in the street, costumes and masked balls. The modern Carnival tradition developed in Europe in the Middle ages, and is celebrated mainly in Roman Catholic communities in Europe and the Americas today. Some of the most famous celebrations are held in Nice (France), Cologne (Germany), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and New Orleans (USA)

When is Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras will be  celebrated on 4th March 2014.

Later, I either play games or ask them to make some items, following the instructions below and bring them to our school carnival party! This year, I have asked them to make:

Mardi Gras Cup Shakers

These Mardi Gras cup shakers are fun to make and produce a satisfyingly loud noise for our  Carnival party at school
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You will need:2 polystyrene cups
Green and purple paint
Dried beans or rice
Gold star stickers
Sticky tapeInstructions:Paint one cup purple and one green.Leave to dry and then decorate with stickers.Fill one cup about 1/3 full of rice or bean. Turn the other cup upside down and tape securely together.

Shake and enjoy!

Mardi Gras  bottle Shakers

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To make these Mardi Gras shakers you will need to raid the junk cupboard for supplies. Kids can use them in a very noisy Mardi Gras school  party!You will need:>Small empty plastic water bottles, with lids
Purple and green acrylic paints
Glitter, ribbon, sequins and/or beads in Mardi Gras colours
Dried beans, lentils or similarInstructions:Using the acrylic paints, decorate the outside of the plastic water bottles in whatever design you choose.When the paint is dry, decorate your “shaker” further using glitter, ribbons, sequins or beads. Let the children really go for it!Drop a small number of beans into the bottle (make sure the inside is completely dry first!) and close the lid firmly. Now, shake, rattle and roll!

Mardi Gras Necklace

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This Mardi Gras necklace is fun to make for all ages, but especially younger kids. Depending on how patient your kids are, you might want to prepare the “beads” in advance!You will need:An assortment of pasta shapes, with holes, which can be “strung” like beads.
Purple and green poster or acrylic paints
Gold acrylic or spray paint.
Shoelaces, yarn or string.

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A shaker and necklaces!

Instructions:Sort the pasta into three roughly equal groups and paint each group with one of the traditional Mardi Gras colours. If you have very young kids involved, expect them to get very messy but have a great time!For the gold “beads” it is easiest to use a gold spray paint. Either delegate this to an older child (supervised) or do it yourself, using plenty of newspaper, and in a well-ventilated room or outdoors. Spray one side of the pasta, wait for it to dry, then spray the other side.When the pasta is dry you can assemble your necklaces. Tape one end of your string to the table to make it easier.Take the opportunity for some patterning practice, or try counting the different coloured beads.

Please make sure that the pasta is completely dry before you let the kids put their necklaces on!

Mardi Gras Jester Hat

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Kids will have fun making and wearing this fun, floppy Mardi Gras jester hat!

You will need:Gold card (about 3 inches / 5 cm wide and long enough to go around your head plus some scraps)
Purple and green paper
Glue
Sticky tape
Stapler (optional)Instructions:Cut 3 ‘arches’ of each colour from the paper.Lay your gold card in front of you, face down. Arrange your arches so they stick over the top of the card. Tape into place along the back of the card.Turn your headband over. Roll up each arch and then allow to open again, so that they curve down.Cut 6 circles from the scraps of gold card and glue these to the ends of the ‘arches’.Bend your crown around so it fits your head and staple or tape to secure.

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This is a great National Geographic Video , about Mardi Gras in New Orleans -to watch with your older students.

http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/kids/history-kids/mardi-gras-kids/

ENJOY!

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Our English class Christmas games and activities

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Well, every last week  before our Christmas school break, we  ALWAYS leave the course books aside and start….enjoying Christmas !

Actually, it all starts much earlier…..about a month before Christmas, I put up  our Advent calendars, full of surprises inside…! This is when all  the fun starts! We continue with our 4th graders  short Christmas plays rehearsals and our  artistic Christmas cards ( to be offered to our Christmas show guests ) and we conclude with the Christmas games and activities week!!

I’ll share some games that have really worked with my students!

Stocking guessing game

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You will need a small Christmas stocking (or perhaps a bright red sock). Into the stocking put a collection of small objects that you see or use around Christmas time. Tie a ribbon or rope around the opening to make sure nobody peeks.

Give everyone a piece of paper and, passing the stocking around, ask them to write down all the objects they can feel. The person that guesses the most objects is the winner. A GREAT game to teach or revise Christmas vocabulary!!

Rudolf, the red nose reindeer!!

Rudolf, the red nose reindeer!!

This is a take on ‘pin the tail on the donkey’. Put a picture of a nose-less Rudolf on the wall, blindfold the students, spin them around and see if they can pin a red nose in the right place. The nearest wins a prize/points.

This is a Christmas card, which we received some years ago, from one of our first partners -pen friends, abroad! Love it!

This is a Christmas card, which we received some years ago, from one of our first partners -pen friends, abroad! Love it!

Santa Says

Same as ‘Simon Says’: The S up is “Santa”. S says “Santa says hop”. All Ss hop. S says “Stop”. Ss should continue hopping on until “Santa” says “Santa says stop”. Repeat for other actions such as jump, run, turn around, sit

The Snowman game

The object of the game is to complete a picture of a snowman ( two eyes, a carrot nose, one hat, one scarf, three buttons, one umbrella) .

Materials

One copy of a snowman worksheet for each student

one die for each group

crayons

a pencil

I first review the objects with the class.

I help students practice saying the names in english.

Pupils take turns throwing the die. The player , says the name on the die  and the english word for the corresponding object.If the player identifies  the object correctly, he may draw it on the snowman.If not, play passes to the next child.A pupil who rolls a number and has already completed that particular feature on his snowman loses his turn.

The first pupil to complete the snowman, is the winner!

I ask them to speak only in english.I put expressions like…” It’s my turn.Throw the die.I can’t go. Pass me the die, please”

For homework: I ask them to write a short description of the snowman.

The snowman game

The snowman game

Scramble Christmas Words

Supplies: index cards, paper bags. How To Play: Choose a Christmas word such as: Christmas, Candy Cane, Santa Claus, Reindeer…. Write each letter of a word on individual index cards. Put the set in a paper bag. Divide the Ss into teams. Give each team a bag. The first team to decipher what the word in the bag wins. A variation of the game would be to divide into teams with the same number of Ss as there are letters in the word. Each S gets a letter and the team must arrange themselves in the right order to spell the word.

 

Who am I Santa?

Who am I Santa?

Who am I Santa?

Blindfold one student. The other Ss stand in circle around the blindfolded student. Spin the student around and then stop him/her facing another student. S says “Ho ho ho. Who am I?”. The blindfolded S must guess who that student is and call out his/her name…Great game for the youngest learners!!

Word Find

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Supplies: timer, paper, pens. Divide Ss into teams. Take a Christmas related word such as: Christmas, candy cane, Santa Claus, etc. and find as many words as possible using the letters of that word. Give a time limit (e.g. 2 mins). The team with the most words wins! Example: Christmas 1: (sit, is, his, miss, rat, tar, this, math, chair, rim…), Example 2: Candy cane (candy, cane, and, dance, day, nay, can, dye, an, any…) Awesome spelling activity!

Freeze

Freeze!

Freeze!

Supplies: Christmas music

How To Play: Begin playing music, everyone moves and dances until the music stops then they must “freeze” in whatever position they happen to be in. Just for FUN!

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Christmas Charades

I prepare two banners,that say whatever  I  want them to say, ie Merry Christmas, Seasons Greetings, etc. Also prepare a set of letters for the same words cut out in two different colors hidden randomly around the room. I I divide the class into 2 teams with two captains–the captains sit and wait for their teammates to bring the letters for their banner. If a student is on the “red” team and sees a letter for the “green” team he/she just leaves it alone. The first team to cover their banner letters wins.

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Frozen Snowman

In this game, everyones tries to make the snowman move!

The snowman has to stay frozen still…

They can’t touch him but they can, make faces, make noises, tell jokes, dance!

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If the snowman moves, smiles or laughs, it’s the end of the game! Whoever, made the snowman move, is the next snowman!

Christmas Whispers

I usually choose to play this game with the christmas vocabulary I have previously taught!

It works best with lots of people.The first person on a line, whispers a Christmassy phrase to the person next to them.

That person whispers what they think they heard to the person on their other side.

The game continues until the phrase reaches the last person.

That person says out loud what they think the phrase is.

It could start ” Reindeer love to fly in the sky” and finally be ” Raid ear love to fling in a…pea!”

With my younger learners, I  use one word each time eg ” Snowflake”.

Pass the snowball

This is a great game to have the class sing new Christmas songs and learn them easily.

For this game, we need a ball- the snowball- and christmas music.

Everyone sits in a circle, and one person holds the snowball. The music starts,  all students are asked to sing along, and the student with the snowball, throws it to someone else.That student, quickly throws the snowball to someone else and so on…When the music stops, the student holding the ball is out!

The game continues and the last person still playing, is the winner!

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Rudolph!!

The Christmas tree

I give out the worksheets. You can make them on your own, it’s simple to draw.

I explain that as I name a decoration, they must draw it on the Christmas tree. I call out different combinations of decorations.

eg Draw two balls on the Christmas tree.

 Draw three bells on the christmas tree.

I later give them specific instructions on how to colour the decorations.

Colour the tree , green.

Colour the balls blue and pink etc

I use the worksheets to decorate the classroom.

Students can alternatively stick the trees on a poster in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Or, complete sentences below the tree with the correct colour of each item.

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree Game

This is a simple printable Christmas Tree board game, with some exciting cards to pick up every time you land on a square – will they help you or hinder you?

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I have come across this amazing game which my students just LOVE in www.activityvillage.co.uk

Print and cut out the Christmas Tree game board, and laminate if you like for durability. Print and cut out the cards and shuffle before placing face down in a pile by the side of the board.

Youngest player rolls first and moves his counter. If he lands on a square, he takes a card and follows the instructions. First to reach the Christmas Tree Star wins!

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My Christmas Book

I generally, love mini books and often use them in my class!

They are simple to make. Ideas can be found on line . eg  http://www.miikogibson.com/origami/Making%20a%20Mini%20book.pdf

I tell my students  that they are going to draw their own pictures about Christmas on the blank pages, writing a sentence for each one. I ask younger learners to write single words.

I can help them get started by asking questions such as :

What do you put under the tree?

I write all possible answers on the board.

eg My tree has got two balls and an angel.

Instead of drawings and sentences/words, they can write lines frfom Christmas carols.

While they are working on their books, they can listen or sing along with carols on the cd.

They finally, staple the left side of the pages together, to make a book!

A letter to Father Christmas

I always ask my students to write their own letter to Father Christmas soon…

I tell the younger ones that, I used to be an elf  (!!) therefore, I know the REAL Father Christmas’ address cause, I used to work and live there! They feel really surprised and ask me lots of questions about my life there! It’s so funny! They usually ask me about my ears…and why they don’t look …”elfy”! I tell them that , I had to undergo a plastic surgery as soon as I left the North Pole cause, people used to make fun of me!

Some of them DO believe me and tell all the other students during the break ” Our english teacher used to be an Elf”!!

I have several worksheets that I use to help them write their letters!

I am soon going to upload photos of them. For more ideas you can visit http://www.pinterest.com/indial/printable-santa-letters/

Here, I am sharing with you the address where my students send their letters and ALWAYS get a reply letter by Father Christmas himself, at home!!

They are so proud when they show it to  the rest of the class , as soon as they get back to school after the Christmas break!

If they write in english, the reply letter comes in english, if they write in albanian, the reply letter comes in albanian, if they write in greek , the reply letter comes in greek…..! It’s really fascinating!

Santa Claus,

North Pole,

Hoh Oho,

Canada.

Enjoy!

More ideas soon…stay tuned!!!!!

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