“PuppETs-European Travelers”: an amazing ETwinning project!

This old time classic pen pals project, gave a real purpose and meaning to learning a foreign language and helped the students experience education in a different country through European citizenship ,using Arts and crafts and a new tool: twinspace!

The project lasted  a school year and we had to complete many individual items . We had to create common projects about: ourselves, our school, our country , our town ,our favourite sports and hobbies, our customs and special traditions, our most favourite place in our countries , our daily routine and habits and also ,create our pen pals as PUPPETS , reading their appearance descriptions and looking at their self-portraits ! We lived in another country, as our school and country ambassadors, and experienced life in another class, far away from home, for one school year! Puppet-students, wrote on their twinspace diaries about their adventures and collaboratively wrote and put on stage, a puppet play about their experience! Our projects and letters were both sent to our friends by snail mail and uploaded on twinspace, to share and compare, in a different class.

Pedagogical Innovation and Creativity 

This was a new and innovative partnership for my school; It was the first time the students participated in such an innovative ETwinning project.

Both, group work and independent research was used  by pupils.

The innovation and creativity of the project is based on the following factors:

1.The willingness of the teachers involved to communicate easily – via phone, email, sms

2.All partner  schools being inclusive of each other, working as one unit on each common project

3.That the children felt able to be creative with their audience in the partner school in mind and dare to share and compare.They also used their imagination and creativity as well as their artistic skills, in order to create their puppet pals and write/stage their puppet plays.

4.That the learning from the project was so significant that it will not be lost from children’s minds

5.The student-Puppet-Ambassadors, created by and for the students ,served as a  meaningful pathway towards understanding and learning more about our friends.

6.Our student-Puppets project, provided the opportunity to break down classroom walls. It gave our students a chance, to see a world outside of their walls.Students,  became fully aware of the other European partner countries and their ways of life. Citizenship became a practical ,rather than theoretical, part of the curriculum.

7.Our ETwinning project, encouraged cooperation between teachers and unified learning. It also offered us the chance to collaborate with the local Puppet Theatre and museum,which was highly beneficial for all of us.

The scope of learning widened from English skills to several other subjects. The idea of being   partners in a European project, encouraged the pupils to find out more about different European countries, their nature, art, food and ways  of living. In the context of European partnerships,our work  provided in the shared learning environment were not only learning material, but were a meaningful pathway towards understanding and learning more about our partners.

  1. In this sense, the true revelation has been that apart from climate and language, people in Europe are essentially very similar with shared values and interests. Surely, this  helped us to overcome our prejudices and made us more open to intercultural cooperation.

Curricular integration 

The theme was chosen deliberately to ensure that the project and its work was as cross-curricular as possible. The areas of ,EFL,  social studies, expressive arts, citizenship,and basic IT , have all been integrated into the sharing of  our common  project activities .

The main focus was to improve the learning of English.

This fitted well into the Curriculum and all my  pupils  benefited.  Our  project involved MFL, language, social studies, expressive arts and basic technology.

We held a European Day of Languages to get the rest of the school know our European friends better. We also had “Puppet Theatre” days, when our student-puppet-guests, presented their projects about their country and way of life, to us! It was exciting to lend them our voices and have them “talk” to us-we could also ask them questions! We later,uploaded all the photos  on our Twinspace “Puppet Diaries”, where everyone could make comments or just read, share and compare ideas, thoughts and feelings.Finally, we were invited to take part in a local Puppet Theatre Festival, where we had the chance to present our play to the local community!

A second focus was citizenship. By exchanging information about each other’s towns, lives  and heritage, the pupils  learned a great deal about each other’s environment, way of life and culture. As far as my school is concerned, I made sure that almost all our project activities were connected  to each of our English coursebook units. Luckily, our coursebooks , are based on both cross curricular and cross cultural topics quite relevant to our Etwinning project theme! Also, they are based on both creative  project work and group  collaboration which  was  highly helpful in our Etwinning project!

I  made sure that, ALL my 85  students, in different age and  language level, took part in our  Etwinning project, a fact  that  proved to be a real challenge!

Finally, our student-puppet-guests, are going to spend their Summer holidays  in our partner countries, write a Summer Diary entry about their Summer adventures and come back home in Autumn, to share it with us.

Communication and exchange between partner schools 

From the beginning, there was a strong plan which gave the teachers guidelines, responsibilities and timescale for each element of the project.

What we practically did  ,was  that, we sent our pen friends all our group projects, on a topic we had already worked on in class and we asked them to reply ,by sending us the same topic based project! The projects we sent, were  in the form of posters, flyers, brochures, magazines, PP presentations, albums , videos, etc….In class, we talked about the similarities and differences of cultures and ways of life !

The students’ very first project was their self-portraits and appearance descriptions, which were used to help their  pals create their puppet-selves!

Arts and craft played an important role in n our project work !

If the kids felt  the need to personalize their work  even more, they were  free to include little gifts having to do with themselves or the project topic, … I always printed  lots of pictures and displayed  them on our school  notice boards.Students were also encouraged to interact on  twinspace ,both at the school ICT lab and from home. This all gave a real purpose and meaning to learning a foreign language.

In these difficult times of financial crisis , our students were able to live abroad, as puppets and experience life in a different country and class for a whole school year ,sharing and comparing our ways of life and making new friends.

The most important tool of the project , was our Twinspace Forums Puppet Diaries: by visiting the Puppet Diaries on a regular basis,  the children via their puppets, became ambassadors of our school and country! The pupils shared information and experiences, and thus learned from each other and strengthened their communication skills. They were also encouraged to interact on twinspace Discussion Forums, where they had to answer simple questions about themselves and our projects, as well as to read and make comments on their partners’ replies.

Collaboration between partner schools. 

In collaboration the teachers in all countries, decided on the range of topics that we would cover and the optimum time for sending/receiving the correspondence items.

We tried together  to do some pre-matching of pupils and classes , based on their known interests.

By all means we  ‘recycled’ language that pupils have previously learnt in their English class .

We created a teachers’  e-mail exchange, too and a frequent collaboration on the Teachers’ bulletin.

We all had to make our partner’s Puppet-Self! In other words, create a puppet-pal ,with similar characteristics with our pen pal, to host in our class and country,for the whole school year!

Our puppets, would travel, play and learn, with their pen pals, in another country and class,experiencing a different way of life.

We created  our Puppet-Ambassadors Diaries on Forums , which we often updated, with the help of our puppets.

We uploaded   videos about our area ,as well as videos about our schools and puppet plays.

We also agreed on the letters and projects which would be implemented by our pupils and agreed on  wall display of correspondence received from partner schools .

We made  questionnaires, and quizzes about our common projects to see how much we had learned, about each other.

We finally, decided to have our students host our guest Puppets during the summer and write on the Puppets’ Summer Diaries which would later be sent , along with the puppets, back home!

We all agreed that, all  students’  final products -our projects,  would be achieved through group work ! No group  project was sent abroad, before it was presented in class ,with the help of our student-puppet-friends and was later displayed on the classroom walls and ,finally, uploaded on Twinspace Pages.

Use of technology 

Some of the partner schools ,had not  used most of the  web tools we had to use for this project,  before .

I had small  groups of my students, use Photoshop to enhance and crop photos and then put them into Movie Maker to produce a school video  to be posted on Twinspace for other schools to view and had them to create  a Quiz about our town. We also used Kizoa to make short videos, padlet to work on our Puppet play script, collaboratively, and a Word Cloud Generator,for feedback.

I have consulted and collaborated with partner teachers using Skype and a webcam. Outcomes and project work were saved on Twinspace ,allowing uploaded materials and presentations to be compared and contrasted easily across all partner  countries.My students, were asked to interact with their pen friends on twinspace ,using their home computers, too !   Video-conferencing, using new webcams, were all new experiences for us .Our project brought a new and exciting dimension to our work.

Actually, the ability to use ICT is becoming more and more vital in today’s modern information society. However, ICT skills are still acquired mainly outside public educational institutes, in my country.

Actually, communicating with real people from other countries appeared to motivate the learners in a very special way, also in the use of basic ICT tools, mainly with our ICT teacher’s guidance.

Through ETwinning pupils learn to use ICT tools in a pedagogically meaningful way.

They wrote letters in the forums, chatted, did interactive exercises, took and uploaded digital photos and videos, searched for information, etc. And all this took place in the pedagogical context of studying English communication

Results, impact and documentation

The pupils were inspired and motivated. They had a great deal of fun working collaboratively .

Students had an opportunity to develop a sense of pride and respect toward other traditions. Our Puppet-Ambassadors, made Europe a more real concept, especially for those students who have never traveled abroad.

The organisation and commitment of the students has been very impressive.

The children showed a great interest in exploring another country and its way of life, as well as demonstrating increased motivation in learning a foreign language. They were always eager to participate, found information themselves, drew pictures, made posters, presented the project to other classes and last, but not least, create their own puppets and write their own Puppet play!

The group  work of my students was collected, and ultimately, shared with our partners. Writing and illustrating personal responses gave students the opportunity to boost their art and creative writing skills. Reading the personal responses of their European  partners, gave students greater insight into their partners’ context and worldview.

The project also brought the class together, as the pupils were working as a team. Through these activities the children also became ambassadors for the school and country .

The pupils  learnt from each other and strengthened  their communication skills.

All in all, we achieved   :

  • to promote group activities  for tolerance and cultural understanding;
  • to strengthen my students’ intercultural competences in order to be ready for responsible understanding of Europe’s identity and common values;
  • to develop the European dimension through arts education (puppets) and creativity with the aim to promote multiculturalism and tolerance between students;
  • To develop “Out-of-the-box” activities that would encourage mutual support, team building and group cohesion ;
  • Encourage personalized learning approaches by acquiring new artistic and pedagogical skills with the aim of developing new ideas and creativity of the students involved in the project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hippo and friends”-a guest blog post by Margarita Kosior

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Margarita Kosior is an amazing educator from Thessaloniki! I truly admire her work on storytelling !

I am so grateful that she accepted my invitation, to share one of her stories, on my Blog! Actually, she has been my inspiration to try similar activities with my junior classes and I wholeheartedly thank her, for that!

Enjoy!

MARGARITA’S POST:

Every storyteller has their own style. Some use music to convey the mood and the emotions, some use puppets, others rely mainly on their own voice, gestures and mimicry. I want my storytelling sessions to stimulate all the senses and engage all types of learners; a song for musical learners, a game for the kinesthetic type, flashcards for visual learners and so it goes. My storytelling session can start with sounds, involve arts and crafts, and end with baking bread. Variety is one of the main ingredients and each session needs plenty of it.

With a touch of imagination, any story, a classic or a reader, can turn into a fascinating journey.

Each one of my storytelling sessions has a variety of goals including improving linguistic competence, artistic and creative expression, involving participants in group tasks, but also allowing time for personal reflection. All these contribute to increased levels of self-confidence of young learners as English language users.

One of the stories I often use in my storytelling sessions is Henry Hippo by Jenny Dooley and Virginia Evans (Express Publishing).

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Photo credits: Magdalena Baca

Together with Henry Hippo and his friends I have visited libraries and schools, I have travelled to other cities and even countries and wherever we went, Henry was a great success.

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Storytelling with Margarita at Sztuklandia, Lublin, Poland

Photo credits: Kinga Łaszcz

As a guest of the English Teachers’ Association of Larissa, Greece, I had the pleasure to entertain groups of children between the ages of 4 and 9 at a local library and a bookstore.

Storytelling with Margarita at the Central Library of Larissa, Greece

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Photo credits: Vassiliki Mandalou

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Storytelling with Margarita at Bookstore “Παιδεία”, Larissa, Greece

Photo credits: Aphro Gkiouris

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Storytelling with Margarita at Bookstore “Παιδεία”, Larissa, Greece

Photo credits: Aphro Gkiouris

The storyline is engaging and fun. Henry Hippo gets stuck in mud. Peter Panda, Millie Monkey and Zara Zebra take turns and try to pull him out; in vain. Finally, Zara Zebra has a brilliant idea. The three animals pull together and manage to get Henry out of the mud. A joint effort brings results and the four friends understand that they are more successful if they work hand in hand.

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Photo credits: Magdalena Baca

Before the students arrive, I set the scene for the story. I use a long piece of blue fabric for the river, a piece of brown fabric for the mud and a piece of yellow fabric for the sun.

Every storytelling session starts with a “Hello” song (it can be any “hello” song, the choice of the instructor). It is good to develop routines. They make the learners feel more comfortable and more self-confident right from the start.

Another routine is opening the Magic Box which hides different treasures every time, usually flashcards or realia which appear later in the story.

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Photo credits: Magdalena Baca

In case of “Henry Hippo”, I create head bands with the four protagonists in advance and I place them in the Magic Box. With the use of a magic star and on the sound of the magic words, the Magic Box opens.

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Photo by Margarita Kosior

Every time the group shout: “Magic Box, open!”, one head band is taken out.m-henryHenry Hippo

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Peter Panda

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Millie Monkey

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Zara Zebra

After ample repetition, the participants know the names of the protagonists and are ready for the story. But the truth is that, especially in case of Henry Hippo, the students participate throughout the story. They take turns to wear the headbands, repeat the lines and play out the content of the story as I am reading the lines out. Depending on the age and level of the student, I ask them to repeat either complete sentences, phrases or single words. At turning points in the story (right after Henry Hippo asks for help), I ask the students to anticipate in what way each animal is going to try to help Henry Hippo. This practice creates suspense and builds the atmosphere of anticipation. Curiosity plays an important role in preschoolers’ lives. Young children ask many “why” questions and all the “why’s” have a purpose of getting to the bottom of things.

If the time is enough, I encourage my students to make their own sequel to the story by adding more jungle animals willing to help Henry Hippo get out of mud.

No good storytelling session goes without a song or a chant. I like simple songs; simple enough for the little ones to learn it in five minutes and sing it so loud that people up on the next floor and out in the street can hear them A good song or chant is a good way of revising target vocabulary. The repetitive rhyme and rhythm make it possible for even the youngest learners to join in.

My follow-up activities usually include arts and crafts projects. For Henry Hippo, I would recommend making a hippo magnet.

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Photos by Margarita Kosior

I finish my storytelling sessions with a simple goodbye song, easy for even the youngest participants to join in and sing along.

Storytelling provides plenty of benefits to (very) young learners and there is plenty of research to prove it.

The benefits can be divided into three groups: mental, social, and educational. In terms of mental benefits, storytelling boosts thinking capacity; it is an activity for the brain. It provides opportunities for sharing thoughts and ideas as a group. Also, through enjoyable experiences while listening to a story, children will develop their individual reading tastes.

Stories from different cultures help children develop an awareness of the similarities between ourselves and others as well as highlight differences, which can then be explored and discussed in the classroom. Thus, children develop empathy and concern for others in order to understand the concept of social equality and justice. This will motivate them to become active citizens and take on social action in the future. Storytelling also conveys important values: bravery, respect, tolerance, teamwork, patience, generosity, fair play, forgiveness, peace, and other values which, when cultivated systematically, will make your students better people.

Also, through active participation in a storytelling session children internalize the language in a natural way within the scope of the thematic units discussed in class. Analyzing questions, retrieving details and associations triggered by the story, and deciding on answers – all these engage children in active learning.

Overall, storytelling has been shown to build intrinsic motivation and self-esteem.

Personally, I know one thing for sure: an engaging storytelling session creates magic, cultivates a love of reading at an early age and adds variety to your lesson. And these make it worth the effort!

 

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MY COMMENT:

Well, I tried this amazing story telling activity with two different classes of 1st graders, in a small state school with basic facilities, in a timy  classroom and… it really worked!! My kids just loved both the story and Hippo!

This school year, our class mascot is actually a… Hippo hand puppet  therefore,I just told them that Hippo would like to share one of his adventures in a London park, with them!

They ALL wanted to take part in the story!

Our special friends!

Our special headbands!

I followed Margarita’s suggestions and I had them participate throughout the story. They took turns to wear the headbands, repeat the lines and play out the content of the story as I was reading the lines out.

They actually found it really easy to remember specific lines and expressions!

Even today , a month later, they use them in class and.. surprise me!

They say:” Oh, dear!” when I tell them  there’s not enough time for a second game or ” What’s the matter?” when I look sad or angry..They also say ” Help” ,”Pull”, ” Hip-hip Hooray” and so many more, in unpredictable moments during our lessons!

Here are some photos from my class…..

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Thanks, Margarita for your creative work and all the inspiration on storytelling!Keep amazing us!

 

 

Our ETwinning “Puppets” project: promoting peace and understanding!

 

I’ve always loved working with puppets, in our  English class!

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I strongly believe that, puppets play an important part in various aspects of a child’s development. The puppet provides the child with a kind of cover or disguise to hide behind: a timid child finds the courage to speak, to express his/her own emotions and to open his/her secrets to the puppet and through it to the audience. Thus the puppet helps the child to communicate much more spontaneously, avoiding stressed relations, especially with adults. The puppet is an authority selected by the child himself.

Through my experience in working with puppets, I believe in the magical power of the puppet in all kinds of communication with children, enlightening their talents and different forms of their creativity.

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In our ETwinning project,this year, we decided to work with FLAT puppets, because, they were easy and cheap to travel in an envelope!

I also thought  that, flat puppets would be important in improving visual sensitivity and orientation in space , especially for my younger students (a translation of a drawing into movement in relation to another animated form).

The use of our ETwinning puppets, actually  resulted in a considerable contribution to a more humane and less stressed teaching environment and the socialization process, with our European peers. Moreover, puppets aroused my students’ imagination and creativity – the best dowry to a child for further development.

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Promoting Peace and understanding among kids living in different countries and experiencing different cultural backgrounds ,was also one of my main targets, this year!

Actually, promoting peace was a large part of Dr. Montessori’s career – one of her most famous quotes is “Averting war is the work of politicians; establishing peace is the work of education.” She thought it was extremely important in her day; today it may be more important than ever…in both Europe and the World!

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To me, Peace doesn’t mean the absence of conflict. That would be an idealized world in which none of us live. Rather, it’s learning how to deal with conflict in a way that doesn’t put the rights, wants, or needs of one person over the other. It’s learning conflict resolution skills that stress respect for the individual and the group, in our class  and in today’s World.

Let me share some facts…:The European continent is culturally, economically and linguistically very varied and a survey carried out by the Council of Europe revealed an important diversity in the provision for the arts in schools throughout Europe.

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In the same study, it was found that arts education provision in these countries, in many cases, also shows an inconsistency with national policy statements. They strongly emphasize the importance of a cultural dimension in education and encourage artistic and aesthetic development in young people, while in reality the status of and provision for arts education appear less prominent. Moreover,  the emphasis on academic and technical education has a tendency to place the arts in the periphery of the curricula encouraging polarities between the arts and the sciences .

It was after I had read those facts when I thought..:Puppetry, is one such form of Art. I should use it to achieve my teaching goals in a fun and meaningful way.

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Peace education can vary by age; older Primary School children will naturally be able to get into the history of peace, understanding others  and conflict by studying different countries and cultures. In our project case, they could participate at a higher level by researching and writing about their lives, different cultures,sharing and comparing with their their European friends with the help of  their Puppets.

During our Puppets project, we emphasized respect for the diversity of traditions and customs found around the world and in our European house!

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Through the creation of several stories for the puppets theatre in class, students developed their artistic potential as a tool to explore the idea of tolerance and understanding of others.

After all, puppetry has been found to be an excellent tool for the teaching of multiculturalism to children.

First, I had to teach my young students, basic techniques used in creating live puppet theatre to be later able to  use puppetry to incorporate multiculturalism into practice.

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A few months later, as my little ones grew in understanding the feelings and needs of themselves and their European peers, their compassionate nature blossomed,too.

More, about this project:

The main goals of the project were  :
• to promote group activities  for tolerance and cultural understanding;
• to strengthen my students’ intercultural competences in order to be ready for responsible understanding of Europe’s identity and common values;
• to develop the European dimension through arts education (puppets) and creativity with the aim to promote multiculturalism and tolerance between students;
• To develop “Out-of-the-box” activities that would encourage mutual support, team building and group cohesion ;
• Encourage personalized learning approaches by acquiring new artistic and pedagogical skills with the aim of developing new ideas and creativity of the students involved in the project.

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This old time classic pen pals project, gave a real purpose and meaning to learning a foreign language and helped the students experience education in a different country through European citizenship ,using a new tool: twinspace! The project lasted for about a school year and we had to complete many individual items . We had to create common projects about: ourselves, our school, our country , our town ,our favourite sports and hobbies, our customs and special traditions, our most favourite place in our countries , our daily routine and habits and also ,exchange OURSELVES as… PUPPETS ! We “traveled” to another country as our school and country ambassadors, and experienced life in another class, far away from home, for one school year! Puppet-students, wrote on their twinspace diaries about their adventures. Our projects and letters were both sent to our friends by snail mail and uploaded on twinspace, to share and compare in a different class.

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This was a new and innovative partnership for my  school; It was the first time that we had participated in such an innovative an ETwinning project.Both group work and independent research was used  by pupils.

The innovation and creativity of the project is based on the following factors:

  • All partner  schools being inclusive of each other, working as one unit on each common project
  • That the children felt able to be creative with their audience in the partner school in mind and dare to share and compare
  • That the learning from the project was so significant that it will not be lost from children’s minds
  • The Puppet-Ambassadors, created by and for the students ,served as a  meaningful pathway towards understanding and learning more about our partners.

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Before we started, the concept of Europe was not understood by most of the children, but now they are fully aware of the other  European  partner countries and their ways of life. Citizenship has become a practical rather than theoretical part of the curriculum.

 The pupils were inspired and motivated. They had a great deal of fun working collaboratively .

Students had an opportunity to develop a sense of pride and respect toward other traditions. Our Puppet-Ambassadors, made Europe a more real concept, especially for those students who have never traveled abroad.

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The organisation and commitment of the students has been very impressive.

The children showed a great interest in exploring another country and its way of life, as well as demonstrating increased motivation in learning a foreign language. They were always eager to participate, found information themselves, drew pictures, made posters, presented the project to other classes.

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As far as my school is concerned, I made sure that almost all our project activities were connected  to each of our English coursebook units. Luckily, our coursebooks , are based on both cross curricular and cross cultural topics quite relevant to our Etwinning project theme! Also, they are based on both creative  project work and group  collaboration which  was  highly helpful in our ETwinning project!

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I teach English to  ALL classes in my school! I therefore  made sure that, ALL my 135 students, in all ages and  language levels, took part in our  ETwinning project, something that  proved to be a real challenge!

All in all, a  puppet can be their friend or their classmate, their ETwinning  friend in our case… but at the same time is the child who moves the puppet. This is going to be the key thing while practicing another language and, if we use them correctly, they are one of the best resources that teachers can find and use in their foreign language classes.Not only to teach English but most importantly, LIFE AND SOCIAL SKILLS!

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End-of-the-school-year fun activities!

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Some people might think that, an “End-of-the-Year event” may seem unimportant, however it is  VERY IMPORTANT cause,…it’s the end of the school year! The positive memories have an effect on the children’s attitude and last forever!…

This is a time to look back and reflect –as well as a time to think ahead. Additionally, we should be sure to recognize our  graduating students ,in some way!

The ideas below,come from many different sources ! One I can recall   is  http://www.kidactivities.net/

I have tried too many such activities in my teaching career, so far! The ones I am sharing here, are the ones I used  last school year, with huge success! And as I often say, ” It has worked in my class; it might work in your class, too”!

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END OF THE YEAR FUN IDEA for the little ones...

Two nice ideas for younger children

  1.  Hand each student a sheet of paper
  2.  Then have the children draw pictures and write words  of the things they would like to say “goodbye to” in your classroom.
  3.  It’s good “therapy” because we know how hard it can be to say goodbye to our familiar room and friends. When complete… bind it into a program book titled ‘GOODBYE ROOM’.

Grade —– (Or__________ ) HAS BEEN A BALL!

This is a fun and different way to have an autograph party as a remembrance of the time spent in class.

Beach balls are fairly inexpensive–order some from a novelty company-have children blow them up and then get autographs from each other on the balls!

For older students….

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BALLOON TOSS: GOALS FOR THE FUTURE

At your end-of-year lesson, give each child a slip of paper and invite him or her to write one goal for the future.

Have students slip the notes inside balloons and then inflate them. Later, have kids toss balloons (like graduation caps), keeping one to pop and share its (anonymously) written message aloud –with the rest of the group.

(Actually, work the last part out in a way that the majority of the group likes—read one message, several messages, or all or no messages)

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THANKS FOR THE COMPLIMENT (A nice way to end the school year!)

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Need: Paper, markers, tape

  1.  Everyone gets a piece of paper taped to their back. (Make sure their name is at the top of the paper.)
  2.  Each person is given a marker.
  3.  Each person in the group must walk around the room and write a compliment or positive remark about that person on their back….. NO PEEKING!
  4.  When everyone has written something positive on each others back, they return to their seat and read what was written.
  5.  With a smaller group, everyone exchanges papers without looking at their own. Each participant can take a turn at reading aloud from person’s list they have. . (Adjust for a larger group)

This is a great self-esteem booster! If some children still don’t know each other very well…they can write such things as: You have a great smile; You’re hair always looks nice; Great blue eyes; etc.

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AUTOGRAPH BOOK

At the end of the year have each child make an autograph book. They pass around their books and get everyone’s signatures and friendly notes for a summer keepsake.

Variation:You can ask them to decorate  their own summer postcards and ask all their classmates to write a personal comment and sign on them.

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One very favourite activity, I always do:

 TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS DURING THE YEAR and put together a slide show.

  1.   I  show this as PART OF A YEAR-END SCHOOL EVENT—but it would also be a wonderful “WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION to the new children we will have the next school year.
  2.  You could use it to show children and families some of the things you do-how they’re done–and what to expect! If you haven’t started, get your slides, videos, and activity scrapbooks going now!

Here’s the link to our last year’s slide show I have already posted about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vr9-iFULcMo[/embed]

 

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WRITE YOURSELF A LETTER

At the end of the school year, have students write themselves a letter. Tell them that no one but they will read this letter so they can say anything they want in it. However, part of that letter might include who their friends are, their current height and weight, favorite movies and music, and special things both good and bad that occurred during the year, summer plans…

Variation: Every year, i have  them write me letters, as well!

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On another sheet of paper or the back of that sheet ask students to write ten goals they would like to accomplish by this time next year (or sooner). Students seal this letter in an envelope, self-address it, and give it to you. In a year (or sooner) mail (or return in person) the letters  to the students.

I loved this idea the very moment my NLP mentor Bonnie Tsai, asked us to do something similar in the end of our summer course at Pilgrim’s, Canterbury,  Kent, three years ago!

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A LETTER TO PARENTS AT THE END OF THE YEAR…

I always send letters to the parents in the end of each school year, both in Greek and in English.

This is the letter in English I sent them last school year.

“Dear Parents,

I give you back your child ~ the same child you confidently entrusted to my care last fall. I give him/her back pounds heavier, inches taller, months wiser, more responsible, and more mature then he was then.

Although he would have attained his growth in spite of me, it has been my pleasure and privilege to watch his personality unfold day by day and marvel at this splendid miracle of development.

Ten years from now if we met on the street, we’ll feel the bond of understanding once more, this bond we feel today.

We have lived, laughed, played, studied, learned, and enriched our lives together this year. I wish it could go on indefinitely, but give him/back I must. Take care of him, (or her) for he (she) is precious. I’ll always be interested in your child and his destiny, wherever he goes, whatever he does, whoever he becomes.”

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MURAL OF MEMORIES

On a nice day–take this activity outside!

Use paints, markers or colored chalk and invite children to create a mural illustrating the many wonderful things your group did, saw, and learned this year. It will be a great “advertisement” for next year’s program or class. (Don’t forget to hang it up when the new school year starts!) I personally, decided to do something alternative with it last school year: I used it to wrap up our class post box!!

As an extension, you can have your group write about the favorite memories they drew.

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END OF THE YEAR BULLETIN BOARD AUTOGRAPHS

BONUS! The board is up and ready to go during the first week of school!

  • Remove what is currently on your Board such as art projects, etc. LEAVE UP Bulletin Board Backgrounds and Borders.
  • During the week BEFORE the last week of school, ask a talented student artist (or do this yourself!) to block letter the words: “HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!” on your bulletin board background paper.
  • Have several children color in the letters…
  • As the days get closer to the end, have youth autograph and write messages on the bulletin board paper.
  • With younger students, ask them to write words and draw pictures of what they have enjoyed the most during the school year!
  • Leave their NAMES AND MESSAGES up for everyone to appreciate.
  • When you return for the new school year you’ll be starting off with one area already decorated with POSSITIVE MESSAGES!
  • No bulletin board area? Get a long piece of butcher roll-paper and do the same…(Actually, this is what I did..)
  • The kids will like reading what they and others left a couple months back!

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This activity is similar to this one…

I REMEMBER WHEN…

Put up the caption in big letters on your bulletin board or butcher paper taped to the wall— and then have children “decorate” it by writing things that they enjoyed doing in your program the past year!

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A SUMMER LAPBOOK

I just love lapbooks! You can read about my first lapbooks in this previous post:

https://aphrogranger.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/our-first-lapbook/

Lapbooks are made of file folders that are folded into a shutter flap so it opens up. Inside you have mini booklets that have a question or theme and the answers are inside. There are a variety of ways a booklet can be folded to demonstrate a topic.

They are really fun and my visual learners love lapbooks since we were introduced to them last year.

There are loads of topics that you can cover in your summer lapbook. I find that because I want to cover a broad topic, it’s nice to take bits and pieces from different lapbooks or it may be easier to create your own.

If you have never completed a lapbook, I suggest doing a free one yourself , to see how you like it.

Make a list of what you would like to cover and teach. Ask your children what they would like to learn. This will get them more involved and excited about their project as well.

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Last but not least: THE-END-OF-THE-SCHOOL-YEAR (graduating students) SHOW

I love staging mini-musicals at the end of each school year!

School Musicals

Enthusiastic audience!!

Enthusiastic audience!!

School musicals and music TV show parodies, offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions. It has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more. School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

Taking part in a school musical or Tv parody  production, has many benefits for children – increased self-esteem, the development of their dramatic and musical talents, and the opportunity to learn about working together as part of a team.

I find ideas in our library English Readers or in different  books or sites such as

http://www.childrenstheatreplays.com/schoolplays.htm

Here are some examples of what we have staged during the last few years!

Starting with this year’s TV talent show parody “The Voice”!

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Our coaches and show presenters

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My students seem to remember these end-of-the-year shows, for..ever!

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Dancing, singing, improvisation ….all their talents in action!!

"The Wizard of Oz":School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions

“The Wizard of Oz”:School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions

" Alice in Wonderland":School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

” Alice in Wonderland”:School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

" The Wizard of Oz": A School musical, has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more.

” The Wizard of Oz”: A School musical, has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more.

Our sixth graders musical every year, is a huge success! Both the kids and their parents are looking so much forward to it!

Our sixth graders musical every year, is a huge success! Both the kids and their parents are looking so much forward to it!

 

"Your face sounds familiar- A concert": Music, is an essential part in musical performances! It helps my students reveal their inner talents!

“Your face sounds familiar- A concert”: Music, is an essential part in musical performances! It helps my students reveal their inner talents!

 

" Your face sounds familiar-A concert": The FUN element of ELT music shows, is is obvious in this photo!!

” Your face sounds familiar-A concert”: The FUN element of ELT music shows, is is obvious in this photo!!

 

" A Eurovision song contest parody": Here's an Improvisation end-of-the-school year concert which we all just LOVED! In the photo, Agathonas Iakovides and Coza Mostra in...Eurovision 2013!!

” A Eurovision song contest parody”: Here’s an Improvisation end-of-the-school year concert which we all just LOVED! In the photo, Agathonas Iakovides and Coza Mostra in…Eurovision 2013!!

ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!

LET’S RECHARGE OUR BATTERIES AND GET READY FOR ANOTHER AMAZING SCHOOL YEAR!!

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Teachers4Europe project, 2014/2015

The books we used during the project

The books we used during the project

A few months ago, I decided to take part in an amazing European project called ” Teachers4Europe”. That project, was the best follow-up of the British Council project ” Life Skills” , which I had finished just a week before.

One of the activities , was actually about tolerance , acceptance and respect which  proved valuable when we decided to start working on this  new european project.

Τhe project idea,  presupposes the acceptance of certain values without which Europe cannot exist. These core values are Respect for Human Dignity, Equality and Respect for Human Rights, which, along with Democracy, Freedom and the Rule of Law, are the founding values of the European Union. The main goal of our  project was to help students enrich their knowledge about Europe in general and especially about the basic principles that permeate the family of countries which constitute the European Union. Another aim was to sensitize them to the notions of collaboration and supporting one another through group work, as these notions are also part of the essential European ideals that lie in the core of the Union itself. The project methodology was based on cross-curricular, experiential, cooperative, communicative and learning-through-playing approaches. By the end of the project the students had acquired a significant amount of knowledge as to how the European Union works. They developed an understanding of the basic values that bound the European countries together and the significant role they play in our lives. They understood the importance of notions such as “acceptance”, “collaboration”, “respect” and “equal opportunities for everyone”.

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For more information about Teachers4Europe:

http://www.teachers4europe.gr/newsite/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=9 )

( teachers4Europe” http://www.teachers4europe.gr/newsite/ )

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The project lasted about two months .

I decided to name it ” Our European House” . Actually, that was the name of one of the project activities, as well.

I wanted to emphasize the fact that, all Europeans live under the same ” roof” ! We are  European citizens , a characteristic which unites us all !

The class project activities ,were the following:

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Warming-up activities

 

We spent about a week, playing team games , in order to get to know Europe better! We used the books ” Let’s discover Europe” and ” The European passport” as well as a map of Europe , to find information since, we don’t have a computer lab at school!

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We played a guessing game about European monuments and  did a quiz on European flags and capital cities.

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ACTIVITY 1

 

“ The story of a 50 Euros banknote”

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Creative writing: a 50 E banknote travels from hand to hand and from country to country , around Europe

  1. Work on the myth: “ Europe’s kidnapping by Zeus”

Description of the tool

We work in 4 teams, 4-6 students each.

Two teams work on the first topic while the other two work on the second one.

The first two teams, write their own story using creative writing tools. The other two teams , receive a worksheet with the myth of  “ Europe’s kidnapping by Zeus”  and are asked to write their own short play about it!

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Alternatively,  a representative of each team, picks up a card

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with a word having to do with one form  of Art on it ( theatre, music, dancing, literature-poetry) and the team is asked to  compose a unique work of art either on the story of a 50 E note or on the myth of Europe and Zeus .

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God Eros! lol!

God Eros! lol!

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Later, they have to present their work , in class. There are four teams working on four different works of Art.

We give plenty of time both for the writing  and for the rehearsals.

A discussion follows about the whole experience, in class.

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ACTIVITY 2

What is Europe for me? Our European house.

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Getting to know one another and coming close to the topic of Europe

Description of the tool.

Preparation

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A topic is presented to the group through a question and/or a heading e.g.: “My house of Europe – what is Europe for me?”.

(Further variations: “My picture of Europe”, “I find this exciting about Europe?”, “I would like a Europe like this….” … )

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What is Europe for you? A brainstorming group activity.

Procedure

Small groups of 4-7 participants are divided between several rooms so as not to disturb each other. Each group gets a large sheet of paper and draws on it their outline of ‘A European House’ with foundations, a roof and as many rooms as there are participants in the small group. They can decide on the architecture of the house. In this way their drawing of the house (crooked or futuristic, strong etc) can also represent their ideas on Europe. Additional ‘extensions to the house’, as well as the environment the house stands in or the ‘surrounding weather conditions’ (sunny, stormy etc) can with other associations be integrated into the picture.

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In one of the rooms the participants write down their personal associations and answers to the question ‘What is Europe for me?’ and then exchange opinions on these statements. The second stage is the group filtering out things they have in common. These things form the foundations. The roof is filled with the group’s shared visions for the future of Europe. The game leaders should make it clear that the small group must reach a consensus concerning the foundations and the visions for the future (30 – 45 mins).

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Evaluation

The small groups present their ‘European House’ to the larger group and hang up their poster in the group room (30 mins). To conclude common factors and differences between the group posters should be discussed (15 mins).

The participants should recognise that the European Union grew out of a long line of ‘events’ and that this process has not finished; important events in this process should be found out and their chronological order.

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Orangito, a flat puppet ambassador from our pen pals in Spain, took part in the project, as well!

 

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We decided to build a 3D European house in class, as well!! We loved every minute doing so!

 

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ACTIVITY 3

Story on a long line.

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Description of the tool.

Preparation and procedure: select event and picture cards (possibly, look for picture cards at http://europa.eu.int/comm/mediatheque/photo). Form small groups of max. 6 people. The small groups each receive a set of event and picture cards as well as the corresponding dates, additional washing line and pegs and possibly glue.

The small groups should match the dates with the event and picture cards and then put them in the correct order attaching them to their washing line or prepared pinboards.

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The washing lines or pinboards stay in the classroom.

Evaluation: The ‘story on a long line’ (time line) is designed as an introductory unit. The correct chronology is discussed and the results of the small groups’ work then correspondingly altered. The results will then subsequently be discussed and the participants’ questions addressed

Variations: The method can serve as a targeted introduction to a specific topic. The selection of event and picture cards should correspond accordingly

Event and date cards examples :

The beginning of the strike at the Lenin docks in Danzig

Greece joins the EC

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Spain and Portugal join the EC

Turkey applies to join the EC

The fall of the Berlin Wall

The treaty of Maastricht comes into force

Austria, Sweden, and Finland join the EU

The treaty of Amsterdam comes into force

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The EU and Morocco sign an association agreement

The beginning of economic and monetary union

Turkey gains the status of a pre-accession candidate

The Charta of basic rights is accepted

The treaty of Nice is agreed

The € is introduced as cash in 12 countries

The European Convention begins with its conferences

The draft constitution is presented

 

ACTIVITY 4

Name that european tradition.

 

Exercise that allows participants to reflect on European traditions in a fun way.

Aims of the tool

Reflect on which traditions/people we identify as “European”

Description of the tool.

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The player has one minute to take a paper and explain to his partners what is on the paper without saying the word.

Participants take 3 slips of paper. On each paper they write a name of a person (historical or present) or something that they perceive as typical European. All things written down should be known by most European people.

  1. All papers are put in a hat.
  2. Participants are divided in pairs and sit in a circle whereby the members of the pair sit opposite of each other.
  3. The game has 3 rounds

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  1. FIRST ROUND: The hat starts with one person. This person has one minute to take a paper and explain to his partner what is on the paper without saying the word. If his partner finds the correct answer the first person of the pair can take a new paper. S/he can continue until the minute is over. Then the person on the left has the chance. We continue until there are no more papers. In the end of the round the points are counted (1 point per guessed answer)
The hat

The hat

  1. SECOND ROUND: same as round 1 but you cannot speak only mimic the issues. The points of this round are added to the first round
  2. THIRD ROUND: same as round 1 but you can use only 1 word to describe it. The points of this round are counted to the other rounds

 

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After the exercise the facilitators make a small debriefing:

– Why did you pick the following issues related to Europe

– What determines why something is European

– Where do you make the border of Europe

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ACTIVITY 5

THE STORYBOOK

First, we read the book " The Stars of Europe"

First, we read the book ” The Stars of Europe”

 

Description of the tool.

Creative writing: The students are given a several pictures that come from the book “ The Stars of Europe” – “Τ’ Αστέρια της Ευρώπης” .

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They first read the book story and later decide about how they can adapt it or completely change it using any of the pictures given in any order they wish, to write their own stories about Europe.

Students work in groups of 4-5 .

Highly engaged teams of students, working on their comic strips stories!

Highly engaged teams of students, working on their comic strips stories!

 

Their story pages are put together and form their own creative writing storybook. They decide about the cover and about how to colour or decorate it inside.

Finally, all the storybooks are read by all different teams of students, in turns. The teams decide about which story liked best and why. A discussion about both stories and Europe follows.

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A few days later, the Eurobooks were almost ready! My students amazed me, by asking me to let them work on their stories ,during all the breaks!! They were so excited and enganged!

I am really  thankful for the chance I have been given ,  to be a “Teacher4Europe” !

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Looking forward to more such creative and engaging projects, in the near future!

 

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Carnival fun in class: when improvisation rules!

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William Shakespeare claimed that

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143
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In theory, drama puts the teacher in the role of supporter in the learning process and the students can take more responsibility for their own learning.  Ideally, the teacher will take a less dominant role in the language class and let the students explore the language activities.  In the student centered classroom, every student is a potential teacher for the group.
Drama for second language learners can provide an opportunity to develop the imagination of the students. The students can go beyond the here and now and even ‘walk in the shoes’ of another. It provides an opportunity for independent thinking.
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When the students are having fun, they let their second language guard down and become less inhibited.  The student will tend to relax and stop blocking out the new language.
In the ESL/EFL classroom, role-playing is a powerful tool.  It teaches cooperation, empathy for others, decision making skills and encourages an exchange of knowledge between the students.
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The benefits of drama to develop the imagination should not be undervalued.  In our rote school routines of memorization and compulsory subject matter, we sometimes do not spend enough time on encouraging our students to use their imagination.  It is the spark that makes the ordinary into something incredible.  Imagination is the magic force that is beyond facts, figures and techniques which can inspire new ideas.  It is with imagination that the ordinary is transformed into something significant.
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We shouldn’t underestimate this powerful teaching tool to reach our students.

Having all the above in mind, I decided to have my students use their carnival accessories and costumes, as their inspiration to create their own skits, working  in groups! It was actually the day, the school Carnival party would take place during the last two teaching hours, therefore all the kids were in the spirit of  Carnival fun and came to class wearing Carnival masks and costumes ! It was difficult to have a..proper english lesson under the circumstances, therefore, I decided to ask them to use their costumes and masks as realia and write and act out their own skits, working in groups! The outcome, was amazing! It was hilarious! I love it when my students become creative!

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Although, my students used their own scenarios , I also asked them to play one  favourite drama game  :

“Scene from real life” 

Procedure:

1.  Divide the class into groups of 3-4 students each.

2.  One member of the group must tell the others a true story about an event in his/her life.  Encourage him/her to describe it in as much detail as possible.  This person becomes the “director”.

3.  The director then chooses members of the group to play the various characters involved in the scene (including him/herself).

4.  The actors then improvise the scene in front of the director.

5.  After each run-through, the director should give notes. Then the group improvises the scene again.  The goal of the director is to make the scene as believable as possible.

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6.  Once the directors of each group are satisfied with their scenes, have the groups share in front of each other.

With my very young learners, we tried several Carnival fun games such as ” The Carnival King says…”

"The Carnival King says..."

“The Carnival King says…”

or many Carnival-themed vocabulary games such as the one shown in the photo below, called” The Carnival masks dictation”  , played in teams!

"Carival Masks Dictation"

“Carival Masks Dictation”

I also, had my afternoon students make these special LEG puppets

Leg puppets

Leg puppets

and use them to play ” Musical chairs” or ” Freeze”! I finally asked my older students to use the leg puppets in order to act their own puppet shows!

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Improvisation , was the key issue in that, too!

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Working in teams to create the story!

 

That was an alternative english lesson, which we all enjoyed , as you can see in the photos!

Highly recommended to all teachers!

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 .

Using puppets in our english class

Puppets are a great resource to align creativity, inspiration, flexibility and humour in language teaching.  We don’t have to buy puppets. We  can create them with our students.

 

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Cambridge ” Hippo” book series puppet: my most favourite puppet ever! I have been using it mainly in private tutoring, with huge success!

 

I believe everybody can use puppets with some practice.

Creating skitches with the raffling of characters, places, and situations is an effective way to mix creativity with language. Students are usually very proud of their memorable creations and watching their presentation is definitely a pleasure.

I personaly use puppets , to practice grammar rules in a more lighthearted way, to review content with humor and to go back to challenging textbook points that are explained by the puppet or to the puppet.

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Some of my favourite IKEA puppets.

 

The most important thing I do in class,  is to say: “Our puppet doesn’t know your language. He only understands and speaks English.” so that students will try to use English in class.

This tip is especially important for allowing an emotional connection with the puppet. I create a world for the puppet.  I mean, give some imaginary details about him, as if he had a family, and came from England. I talk about his likes/dislikes. Sometimes you can bring some other puppets to class so that you can show them as your puppet’s friends. For example, when I  use my Hippo puppet with my homneschooled students, I  tell them that Hippo comes  from London and his family is  still back there. He  travels  to see them every Christmas , Easter and Summer holidays .They can see his family  ” photos” in our flashcards and from time to time,they are able to meet some of  Hippo’s friends – other animal puppets- who  come and see him here in Greece, visiting our English class, too!

 

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I use my puppets mainly ,  in story telling! Especially with my 3rd graders to present the stories in our coursebook! I memorize or familiarize myself with the dialogue and present this to the class afterwards , letting the puppets develop a personality.

I check for understanding by asking simple  questions . Depending on the age of the group, you can ask questions as the teacher or as the puppet.

I instantly become an actor in order to convey meaning for any new language being taught.  In order to communicate with beginning  level students, I use  clear gestures and realia were essential. These help create a context for the language so the students can grasp the meaning. As puppets act out the language, children become motivated to learn because the puppets bring animation and fun to the  English lesson.

Today’s children are so used to having visual cues that enhance their learning, as in TV and online classrooms, that they need lessons which combine visual with auditory learning. They are much more motivated and seem to engage more quickly when they can watch and listen to an actual demonstration of the new language they are learning. As a result,I have realized that,  having puppets and animated teaching as part of my lesson makes  the language come alive in our  English classroom.

 

Τeaching with puppets!

Presenting the 3rd graders’ book story of Lady Decay in class, using my favourite puppets!

What I usually do, is what I’m  suggesting  here that you should also do…..

Start telling your story first .It is important to use a different voice for the puppet if he is a talking puppet rather than your normal voice.  Put your characters on your fingers, and wiggle them as you tell the story. Speak in silly voices, make the characters move and play as you tell the story. Children love when you add effects. Throw in storm sounds, wind sounds, animal noises, sing silly songs and any thing else you can add to the atmosphere. Use whiteboard drawings scenery to allow the children to get more involved in the story. Make sure they know you are enjoying telling the story because they can tell if you don’t like what you are doing. If they see our  excitement, then they will enjoy it even more.

Another use of dramatic play I do , is to take a coursebook  story or fairy tale the class has read and turn it into a skit.

I  put students in groups of two to four and have them present their  short puppet skit ,with each person controlling one puppet.

They enjoy having their own puppets. To serve this purpose, in the beginning of the term I hand out the sheets of different finger puppets to my students. They cut and colour them. I also give envelopes for keeping paper finger puppets in. When we read stories, they act out their own version of the story using these puppets. They also create dialogues with the puppets. You can find paper puppets on the internet, too .

Needless to say that , first I allow class time for puppet creation or even  assign it as homework!
Finger puppets are an inexpensive and fun activity for my students!Also,  I  personally use many puppets I have  bought from IKEA which  instantly became favorite toys in class . The IKEA puppets are animals (they have many different kinds) and they also sell finger puppets – which are also cute but I find them difficult to play with.

My students are encouraged to create their own handmade finger puppets!

My students are encouraged to create their own handmade finger puppets!

 

There are so many different ideas for puppets you could use in your own class, too …some examples are:

Use a pattern for the most basic   hand puppets  to create many characters as you need them.I always do so with almost all the 3rd graders coursebook fairytale characters.

Attach pie plates or paper plates to rulers or sticks for quick and easy stick puppets.

Use the cardboard rolls from paper towels to create “throwaway” puppets.

Paper bags make puppets with mouths – decorate with scraps of felt and yarn.

Simple marionette puppets can be made by drawing a large figure on stiff card. Cut off the head, arms and legs. Re-attach each piece with a brad fastener. Attach a separate string to each of the parts (you can attach the free ends to a coat hanger). Then pull each string individually to see the puppet move.

 

Peter Pan and Goldilocks, are bringing the book story into life, in our class ...Fairytale Forest!

Peter Pan and Goldilocks, are bringing the book story into life, in our class …Fairytale Forest!

 

I have brought in my class, one of my daughter’s puppet theatres! But, from time to time, I also use different other types of puppet theatres. Some examples are:

Box Puppet Theatre
There are a few ways to make your own puppet theatre. The simplest is to cover a
low table with a blanket or tablecloth and hide behind it.

Temporary Puppet Theatre
You can also make a temporary puppet theatre out of things you have
around the classroom or at home…. eg 2 sturdy chairs ,a broom handle or thick dowel ,string ,a sheet, blanket or tablecloth

Card  box Puppet Theatre
You can make your own shadow puppet theatre out of a cardboard box.

 

Students, usually work in pairs to present their stories ,using hand or finger puppets.

Students, usually work in pairs to present their stories ,using hand or finger puppets.

All in all, what we can  use a puppet for in class?

-for introducing new vocabulary and sentence structures
– for repeating and deepening knowledge
– for storytelling
– for singing songs
– for playing action games
– for creating rhymes
– for creating authentic situations through dialogues between teacher and puppet

Remember that puppeteering is an art and there isn’t a right way to do it. 

Puppets are very powerful. I have also discovered that children learn much better if they’re having fun, (it’s obvious really) and we all  learn best through games and fun activities!

This is our most favourite class handmade puppet! Meet Irene (Peace, in greek)! Our language ambassador which was sent to our partners in Taiwan along with our "Doves of Peace" letters to help them know more about Greece and the greek language!

This is our most favourite class handmade puppet! Meet Irene (Peace, in greek)! Our language ambassador which was sent to our partners in Taiwan along with our “Doves of Peace” letters to help them know more about Greece and the greek language!

DARE TO USE PUPPETS in your English lessons ! It’s so much worth the effort!

This post and my suggestions here about using puppets in class, have  been inspired by the  amazing blogger  and colleague Juan Alberto Lopez Uribe , and his really  inspiring Blog http://childrenlearningenglishaffectively.blogspot.com which is highly recommended  to all of you to follow ! I always try to apply interesting ideas I find on line or know about in seminars  in my class and see if they work for me before I share them with my PLN! Juan’s ideas worked wonders in our english class and I have to thank him for that!

This is one of my most favourite resource books which has really helped me a lot on using  puppets in my class. It is therefore, highly recommended! https://elt.oup.com/catalogue/items/global/teacher_development/teaching_with_bear/?cc=global&selLanguage=en

Class theatre- an adaptation of Midsummer night’s dream

mosaic skets sheak 3Shakespeare is for everybody—and that includes elementary school students! Many performance-based teaching strategies work very successfully with younger students.

Since my university years,  “Midsummer night’s dream”  has been one of my most favourite   Shakespeare’s stories!

With my own experience of getting to know Shakespeare as a young woman, I was grabbed by the stories first of all. Then you grow up and become engaged by the language. But it’s more than just good stories and nice language. It’s about ethics and morality.

I therefore, wanted my students to get to know and like  Shakespeare , too! To be able to understand the difference between appearance and reality!…

Luckily, our school 6th grade english  book, offers an adaptation of my most favourite story…. !mosaic skets sheakspeare

You probably already know a few things about the play:

Lysander and Hermia are in love but they flee Athens because Hermia’s father wants her to marry Demetrius.mosaic skets sheak 8

Helena is in love with Demetrius so tells him of the flight to win favour. Both follow the lovers into the forest where Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the Fairies, are feuding.mosaic skets sheak 16

Oberon orders Puck to use a love potion on Demetrius so that he will fall in love with Helena but Puck mistakenly anoints Lysander’s and Demetrius’ eyes and both fall in love with Helena. Meanwhile, in another part of the wood, craftsmen are rehearsing a play and Puck fixes an ass’s head on one named Bottom with whom Titania, under the influence of the potion, falls in love.mosaic skets sheak 15

After much confusion harmony is restored, and the play is performed at the multiple wedding of the Duke and the four young lovers.mosaic skets sheak 6

Lesson plans and  several teaching ideas can be found  here : http://www.webenglishteacher.com/midsummer.html 

or here: http://thehipp.org/uploads/files/education/A%20Midsummer%20Night’s%20Dream_Hippodrome_Elementary.pdf

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I personally, use only the book text, and my students’ imagination and improvisation skills! I want them to have real fun, performing! I have noticed that, even shy students, open up on stage and are willing to learn and join the fun!mosaic skets sheak 9 A typical example is Armelido, whose parents are immigrants from Albania. He  could hardly communicate in english at the beginning of the school year but,  was finally  able to learn all Demetrius’ lines by heart and perform with huge success!mosaic skets sheak 13

When “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is first introduced, I  give students a short introduction about the play. After researching Shakespeare’s life from several resources, I show them a poster I have in class with the major events of his life.

We brainstorm pairs of characters (e.g.  Demetrius-Hermia).

We think about props or   costumes for different characters.mosaic skets sheak 12

Then, we listen to the story adaptation and I divide them in groups. I ask them to decide about the roles they prefer.I assign parts …mosaic skets sheak 7

Later, they have to  work together as a group and decide about the details. They have a week to do so before they perform in class…collaboration is the key word here!mosaic skets sheak 11

In class, we have a competition for the best group performance of each  adapted part! My students get really excited with that! It’s  a really fun experience for all!

If you want, you can have your students perform the adapted play for the whole school , in the end-of-the-year school show! I am thinking about doing so this year…

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By exploring the text through voice and movement activities, I believe my students will become more aware of themselves as whole people.  By placing theatre at the center of education, and by creating a “schoolhome” atmosphere, students will have the opportunity to make the connection between mind and body.mosaic skets sheak 5 They will be allowed to use all that they are–mind, body, emotion–to learn and grow. And that is what school is all about–educating the whole person.mosaic skets sheak 4

 

The “Ten second object” and the ” Essence machines”

I'll let you guess about this one...what do you think the object is??

I’ll let you guess about this one…what do you think the object is??

This is a very popular drama game and a useful technique which can be developed easily towards improvisation or physical theatre. It’s also highly accessible and great fun!

Divide everyone into small groups (4-6). Call out the name of an object and all the groups have to make the shape of that object out of their own bodies, joining together in different ways while you count down slowly from ten to zero. Usually every group will find a different way of forming the object. Examples could be: a car, a fried breakfast, a clock, a washing machine, a fire.

In the photos below, you can view only FEW of the objects the students were asked to make the shape of…

A tree

A tree

The Star shining

The Star shining

A hot-air balloon

A hot-air balloon

An airplane

An airplane

Full moon

Full moon

A desk and chair

A desk and chair

Books on a bookshelf

Books on a bookshelf

An umbrella

An umbrella

I often combine this drama activity with one other old-time favourite…the Essence machines!

This activity provides a useful technique for generating physical and aural ideas around a theme. Explain that the group is going to create a “machine” out of themselves. Name a topic and give the participants a few moments to think of a repeating sound and action linked to that theme. For example, if the theme was “shopping” a participant could mime taking money out of a purse to give to a shopkeeper, whilst saying “I’ll have two of those, please.”

As soon as someone has an idea, ask them to step into the centre of a circle to begin their repeating sound and movement. Ask if somebody else can think of a suitable way to add in their own idea. Gradually, more and more people join in the activity. Some may be linked to existing parts of the “machine”, whilst others may be separate. To continue the example above, someone could join the action by becoming the shopkeeper and saying “Shall I wrap them for you?”, whilst somebody else could be a cleaner in the shopping mall.

Essence machines: at the gym

Essence machines: at the gym

A bus

A bus

A fireplace

A fireplace

Another version of the airplane

Another version of the airplane

A river

A river

Another version of the Sun!

Another version of the Sun!

A new vesrion of a tree

A new vesrion of a tree

A vase full of flowers

A vase full of flowers

A bike!!

A bike!!

 

Learning english the RIGHT way, can be so much FUN!

Learning english the RIGHT way, can be so much FUN!