If you’re looking for activities for young learners, check out my Facebook LIVE workshop. I teach children from age 2 – 12 in Tokyo, and these activities have all been LOVED in my classrooms. The activities support English language development as well as developmental body movement. Today’s FB LIVE (February 21, 2019) included the following: It Is Raining (focus on body parts), Little Worms (vocal expression, yoga movement, building group unity), Come and Sit In Front of Me (transitional), Tiny Egg (Butterfly Life Cycle, creative movement, connection to Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar), Flitter Flutter Butterfly (pronunciation practice, rhyming sounds, movement), Here’s a Leaf (seed-leaf-bud-flower), Folding Scarves (transitional), Scarves Please (Transitional), We Love Hina Matsuri (song/canon for Japanese Girls’ Day), We Did It. You can find all of the lyrics inside the CDs.
Happy New Year! We have celebrated O-shogatsu (New Year’s) with toshikoshi soba and o-sechi ryori, traditional New Year’s foods. Starting on Monday, I’ll be back in the classroom with my students. This song was written with our son Christian when he was in elementary school. Christian and Chuck are singing it at home for you:.
How should we move with this song? When students first listen to the song, they might like to jump, march, or twirl around.
When I first teach the words to this song, students keep a “steady beat” by patting their legs. To make it a little more challenging, they can create a pattern by patting their legs once, then clapping their hands. Think “pat-clap-pat-clap” or “down-up-down-up.” Do this for the first three lines.
We like to do something special on the last line:
— On Happy New Year! my students like to shake their hands above their heads. Some students like to turn around quickly!
— On Hip hip hooray! students roll their hands, then jump once in place.
For an even bigger challenge, students can do the pat-clap pattern with a partner by patting their own legs, and then clapping both hands with a partner.
Our biggest challenge? Students stand in a circle facing their partner. First they pat their own legs, then clap with their partner. Then they turn to the person on the other side (called a “corner” in folk dance), repeating the pat-clap. They repeat the pattern with their partner, then corner until the Hip hip hooray. Check out the video to see what my students did!
Happy New Year 2018! We hope that you keep a song in your heart and a smile on your face. May 2018 be filled with lots of joy!
Happy New Year is one of 15 great songs for kids on Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays. The CD includes a handy attached booklet with lyrics, and is available for teachers in Japan at ETJ Book Service.
For teachers residing outside of Japan, the songs are available for download through iTunes. To hear the studio version of this song, go to iTunes, and click on Track #3.
CDs are available for sale through the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, MN, Mad Robin Music & Dance in Seattle, WA, St. John’s University Book Store, Collegeville, MN, and The Fishing Pond, St. Cloud, MN.
Stay tuned for our second New Year’s song, It’s The Year of the Dog!
I teach very young learners. I love the energy that these students bring to my class! The question is how to harness that energy productively. This chant from Magic Time One 2nd edition (OUP) is perfect for very young learners.
In the lessons prior to this, students learned about various pets, such as cat, dog, rabbit, bird, turtle, and frog. (Actually the artwork shows additional pets that the children find in the pictures). The four verbs in this lesson are jump, run, hop, fly.
First of all, students practice each of the four verbs–jump, run, hop, fly–standing in one place. It’s also important for young learners to learn “Stop!” It’s fun to make it a game by saying these verbs several times (Jump! Jump! Jump!), and then “Stop!” You can do this with music by starting and stopping the music. When my students, they love to make interesting poses, too.
Secondly, put these four words into the chant pattern. I like to do this as a fingerplay sitting with the students.
For jump, place two fingers in your palm, then pretend to “jump.”
For run, make your fingers move quickly in your palm.
For hop, place one finger in your palm, then pretend to “hop.”
For fly, move your fingers in the air.
You can place the four picture cards in the order of the song like this. Put the three verbs in one row, and run in another.
Jump Hop Fly
You can see in the video that my students matched the animals to the picture cards.
Run, Run, Run! from Magic Time One 2e Unit 10
Jump! Jump! Run, run, run!
Jump! Jump! Run, run, run!
Jump! Jump! Run, run, run!
Jump! Jump! Stop!
Change jump to hop. Then change to fly.
Here’s a video of some of my very young learners performing this chant.
Students extend this language by putting it into the phrase, It can _______. Students are then able to talk about all of the pets they’ve learned about.
How do you get all of your students’ attention? As we move to student-centered learning, your students may be more engaged in small group work. Throughout your lessons, however, you may need to get their attention again. How do you do it?
First of all, with any strategy you use, you must practice it before you actually use it. My students love to do this! It’s easy to see how they continue to improve.
Secondly, the success of each strategy depends on you, your group of students, their age, and their disposition. Figure out what works best. In a couple months, change it up with a new strategy.
1. Get attention with something that creates an interesting sound.
What do you have readily available in your classroom? One of the most interesting sounds I have in my classroom is a slide whistle. If you have a big group of students, it quickly gets their attention. Don’t have a slide whistle? How about a tambourine or a kazoo?
(Clap on every syllable. Students echo your clap.)
I like ba-na-nas. (I like ba-na-nas.)
I like po-ta-toes. (I like po-ta-toes.)
I like to-ma-toes. (I like to-ma-toes.)
3. How about trying some rhyming conversations? These help your students develop phonemic awareness too!
My Grade One students love “Hands on Top.”
Teacher says, Hands on top! (put your hands on top of your head)
Students answer, That means “Stop!” (students do the same)
One, Two, Three, Eyes on Me is another rhyming conversation.
The teacher sings, “One, two, three, eyes on me.” (so-so, mi, so-so, mi)
Hold up fingers as if you’re counting to three. Point to yourself.
The students answer, “One, two, eyes on you!”(so, mi, so-so, mi)
Hold up fingers as if you’re counting to two. Students point to the teacher.
My students then do “Peace and Quiet” by putting two fingers in the air (peace) and one finger to their lips (quiet).
I love to pretend with my students. Ask, “Where are your butterfly wings? What color are your wings today?” Pretend to paint each arm by gently rubbing it and naming a color. i.e This wing is pink, but this one is purple.
Raise and lower your arms out to your sides as if you are flying. Inhale and exhale.
Finally, inhale while raising your arms from your sides to above your head. Touch your hands together above your head, then bring them down in front of you. Exhale when your hands are in front of your mouth. This is an effective way to calm students after a lively activity.
Having some strategies in place will help your classes run smoothly.
Yes, this is an unusual post for this blog! I have been asked by many teachers to write about the game I created to practice frequency adverbs.
The goal of this game is to practice frequency adverbs (never, sometimes, usually, always) with everyday chores. You need one dice and a set of “chore” flashcards. The chores in Everybody Up (published by Oxford University Press) include the following: wash the car, take out the garbage, water the plants, vacuum the carpet, sweep the floor, clean the bathroom. If you don’t have chore flashcards, you can certainly make up your own list.
This game works well in groups of three to four students.
My students decided that the numbers on the dice would represent the following words or choices.
my classmate’s or teacher’s choice
Place a set of flashcards for chores (from Everybody Up, Level 3, Unit 6) in the center of the group. The first student rolls the dice, then picks a “chore card.”
If the student rolls the number 2 (sometimes) and picks the chore card “wash the car,” the student says “I sometimes wash the car.”
If the student rolls the number 5, he/she can choose which frequency adverb to use.
If the student rolls the number 6, he/she can ask a classmate or teacher to choose which frequency adverb to use.
After each person’s turn, other students might ask if the statement is true or false. When a student says, I always make my bed, the others ask, Is it true?
To expand the practice, change the pronoun from “I” to “he“or “she.” Using these pronouns requires the use of the third person “s.” If a student rolls the number 4 (always) and picks the chore card “waters the plants,” he/she says, “She always waters the plants.”
Students love to make letter shapes with their bodies.
Learning the names of the days of the week in English can be tricky. For many of us, we teach our English class on the same day each week. This song “What Day Is It?” is a fun way to practice the days of the week.
First of all, write a letter on the board or show a picture card. Model making that letter with your fingers, arms, or whole body. Make the letter so that students are able to read it. You might imagine how that letter would look when you write it on your whiteboard. Students will be able to “read” your letter. Invite students to make letters with you. They might even make letters with the entire class! Try making letters in many different ways.
We started at the beginning of the alphabet. Students made A, a, and B, b (see B below). In Magic Time (Oxford University Press) students have fun making letter shapes to learn the letter name and its sound.
Now write the names of the days of the week. Run your finger under the word as you say it (Sunday). Point out the first letter. Encourage students to make that letter with their bodies in several ways. Remind students that days of the week begin with capital letters. As you can see, sometimes the letters appear flipped around to us. The important idea is that students are making the letter shapes.
I love to catch my students making their amazing letters by taking photos. Remember CCBA (Catch Children Being Amazing!)
Pass out the “days of the week” cards, one to each student. Students line up in order around the circle starting with Sunday. Students make the initial letter shape as they sing each day of the week. When they sing “Tra la la la la” add a group movement, such as pat your knees, clap your own hands, clap your “neighbor’s” hands.
Image courtesy of japanachai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Have you heard of the acronym CLIL? It stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning. CLIL lessons link classroom content with vocabulary and grammar paradigms. We can bring the world of nature into our English lessons!
Here’s a great CLIL science lesson you can teach your young learners today! It introduces students to a butterfly’s life cycle. Like all powerful lessons that provide “many ways to learn,” this lesson teaches English through words, pictures, chants, movement, logic, and more!
Through this activity, students will:
-know the names of the butterfly life cycle
–create movements for each part, with fingers, with whole body
–perform a chant
–recognize a life cycle (you may refer to “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle)
Please refer to the illustration below as we go through the steps of the lesson.
1. First, present the new language:
egg caterpillar chrysalis butterfly
You may introduce the language using the picture card illustrations (right), or find your own pictures in books or on the Internet. It’s fun for students to find these images in the story of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
2. Next, create finger shapes for each word. The “finger play movements” below the illustrations will show you how, or use your imagination to create your own ideas.
4. Finally, you can expand the activity by having students move to the chant using their whole bodies. Students can bend down to make tiny egg shapes, then wiggle about on their tummies as caterpillars. They can balance in a on one foot in a chrysalis shape. While students are balancing quietly, give each student one or two colorful scarves for butterfly wings. Your students might enjoy moving around the room like butterflies. I often play “Aviary” by Camille Saint-Saëns, or the Japanese song “Cho Cho.”
Through the power of CLIL, students have now experienced the life cycle of a butterfly in a meaningful and memorable way. The vocabulary they have learned has real meaning, and they will happily repeat the activity many times in future lessons.
Let us know how this activity works in your classroom, and if you discovered any new ways to teach it!