As an elementary school English teacher I’m always looking for new ideas for my students. Pinterest, is always helpful for new ideas as well as sparking my own creativity!
Last school year, I was asked to teach Art to 1st and 2nd graders, for one hour a week…
“What a challenge” I thought. By the way, in my school, there is no Art teacher!!! No ICT teacher! No Drama teacher! I love all these three subjects and have done my best to incorporate them in my English teaching , all these years! For my students sake…
I have always believed that, using arts and crafts in the classroom can be an excellent way to facilitate language learning with young learners.
Why I use arts and crafts in my English class?
- I get students to work on projects in groups with a mixture of levels. For example, if students are creating a poster, then those with a lower level work on designing a ‘tag’ while higher levels write an accompanying text about the topic.
- Arts and crafts can be a great way to include cross-curricular activities in the English language classroom. Students can incorporate drama skills using masks they have made for role plays, for example.
- I find that teamwork, class cohesion and sharing are promoted if students have to work together to complete an art project.
- You can appeal to the competitive urge in many students by getting them to produce art work for competition, e.g., design a Christmas card or school magazine cover. I find that brightening up a classroom with students’ work is also great!
- Kinaesthetic learners who learn best by moving around and Visual / Spatial learners, who love making things will find arts and crafts activities motivating.
- I find arts and crafts useful for recycling language. You can use a wall display to revise vocabulary as a warmer.
(This must be the topic of a future post, I guess…)
But, that case was different…Those young learners, had never been my students, before! They would start learning English in the 3rd grade! Therefore, my job was to be their…Art teacher, for about one school year- not their English teacher! How challenging was that! I am not an Art teacher, but I can do Art in my English class, so….I thought, “Why not”?
Things to keep in mind, before you start :
With very young learners, a teacher has to be patient…I sometimes break a project down into sections, over a number of classes.
I have all materials ready before I begin. Students may lose interest while the teacher spends a few minutes searching for extra scissors! If the children need to bring in materials from home I always ask them do so a couple of classes in advance and keep them somewhere safe.
I usually go stage by stage and wait until everyone has completed a stage before moving on to the next one. Very young learners who finish first can help others so that they stay on task and don’t get bored.
I have to make sure to leave plenty of time at the end of the session for tidying up and encourage monitors to make sure everything is put back in the right place.
I always have an extra task for early finishers or ask them to work on the details or even help others with their work!
A crucial thing for me is, to ask them to learn to REUSE ,when it comes to Craft work! Most of the crafts we did , were made by reusing things we could find in the recycling bins!
What I personally love about the Arts ,the most….
Well, the arts are a wonderful arena for fostering creativity, an important skill to have in a rapidly changing world, for our kids.
Also,through the arts, children learn how to work together to achieve great things. As they work together, they learn to understand differences and diversity. They learn how teamwork contributes to great performance. By teaching students how to live and work together, the arts contribute to making schools safer and more peaceful learning environments.