End of the School Year fun ideas, for YL

Each June, my students and me, get to celebrate all of the learning, hard work, and progress that we have made with end of the year  activities, in class.

After a long school year, creating and planning activities for an end of the year celebration is the last thing on my mind. There are always end-of-year assessments, data entry, deadlines, assemblies, and the usual chaos that stands at the forefront, but I still want to do some special activities with my classes.  I have tried several awesome activities that work, all these years! I save time by providing end-of-year activities for my students that are ready to decorate! Sharing here, some exciting ideas that double as great keepsakes:

Most of these ideas, which I have tested in class, with huge success, come from this site.

BALLOON TOSS: GOALS FOR THE FUTURE

I give each of my older students, a slip of paper and invite him or her to write one goal for the future.
I have students slip the notes inside balloons and then inflate them. Later, I have them toss balloons (like graduation caps), keeping one to pop and share its (anonymously) written message aloud –with the rest of the class.
(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)

My 6th graders, simply love this activity! Alternatively, you could try the…

“Fortune Cookie” Balloon Toss    
I have a brainstorming session with students about the adventures of summer and all of the good things that might happen. I have every student write one positive “fortune” on a pre-cut slip of paper such as “You will go on a marvelous adventure,” “You will achieve your goals,” “You will make a new friend,” etc. Each student will put his or her slip into a balloon, inflate it and tie it off. We make a large circle and play a song. I have students toss balloons around until the music stops. Each student should end up with one balloon. Using whatever means they like (sitting on it, using a sharp pencil, hair clip, etc.),  students pop their balloons and read their fortunes. I go around the circle and have each student share his or her fortune aloud.

THANKS FOR THE COMPLIMENT

(A nice way to end the school year! Especially with older students or the ones who graduate)
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.

This is a great self-esteem booster for kids! 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.

AUTOGRAPH BOOK

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

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

1.  Of course we can 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.  We could use it to show children and families some of the things we do-how they’re done–and what to expect!

I do it, every single  year! Both parents and students, appreciate it!

‘Indoor or Outdoor FIELD DAY’ ideas 

All children love playground games and some movement is crucial, when it comes to young learners. I usually, pre-teach the instructions and basic English games vocabulary in class, before we move out to play.

  • Potato Sack Races (using old pillow cases or sacks purchased from Oriental Trading or similar supplier)
  • Shoe Mix-Up: Have children take off their shoes and mix up the whole pile; have them race to put the shoes back on.
  • Tug of War: Using a huge rope have Kids vs. Kids and then play with Kids vs. Adults (They’ll like that one!)
  • Sock Throw: Put a tennis ball into a long sock and have kids throw it to see who can throw it the furthest!
  • How about the games played in ‘Summer Olympic Games’ such as:SOFTBALL, FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, HANDBALL, HOCKEY, TENNIS OR VOLLEYBALL? They’re all Summer Olympic Games!!!

A LETTER TO PARENTS AT THE END OF THE YEAR…

This letter below, is just one example. It’s a tradition for me, to write a letter to all parents, both at the beginning and at the end of each school year! I include all our goals and achievements. It works well, so far.

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.

Program/Class AWARDS

 

This school year, I made  up some fun and unique awards for my older students. Together with the students in class, we found  something unique about EACH CHILD and recognized them for that unique quality.I created the awards myself on a PC but you can also download a template from the internet.

A suggestion I have found  here and we loved, in class:
We made up awards to match candy bars (I personally, adapted the names a bit…Had to match candy bars, we can buy in Greece ). Here are the names, in the original post :

  • ALMOND JOY AWARD: For the person who is always happy
  • BIT-O-HONEY AWARD: For someone very sweet
  • BUTTERFINGER AWARD: For the person who broke the most things
    accidentally
  • DOVE AWARD: For the program/class peacemaker
  • GUMMY BEARS AWARD: For a very lovable child, who is always laughing
  • JOLLY RANCHER AWARD: For the person always telling jokes
  • KIT KAT AWARD: For the student always at the teacher’s side
  • LAFFY TAFFY AWARD: For someone with a sweet disposition
  • LIFESAVERS AWARD: For the person, who is always helping someone in need
  • MILKY WAY AWARD: For the group daydreamer
  • MR. GOODBAR AWARD: For the student who exhibits the good qualities of friendship
  • NESTLE CRUNCH AWARD: An alternative to pencil chewing
  • NUTRAGEOUS AWARD: For an outstanding personality
  • NUTRAGEOUS AWARD: for the wild and crazy person in class
  • SKOR AWARD: For athletes in the class
  • SNICKERS AWARD: For having an outstanding sense of humor
  • SWEET TARTS AWARD: For a sweet girl/boy
  • SYMPHONY AWARD: For anyone musical
  • TEDDY GRAHAMS AWARD: For the most huggable
  • THREE MUSKETEERS AWARD: For the one always with the group
  • WHOPPERS AWARD: For the best storytelling
  • ZERO MATH AWARD: For outstanding performance in Math

etc

End-of-Year Charades

I have each student write out one memorable moment from the school year on a slip of paper. I collect all the slips in a bag, hat, etc. I divide kids into teams and have them come up one team at a time, choose a slip and act out the memory for the group. No need to keep score—the goal is just to relive all the happy memories from the year and…use their English , of course…

Alternatively, I have them write their “End of School Year Reflections”-my own favourite end-of-school-year read!

“I Remember When …” Mural 


This is a great activity when we have a few extra minutes to fill or when kids need a short brain break. I always use it ,on the very last day in class. I decorate the top of a long piece of butcher paper with the words “I Remember When …” -older students – or ” I want to say goodbye to…” -younger students- in large print.  I allow students to write and draw favorite memories from the school year until all the space is filled. We display our banner proudly in our classroom or out in the hall for others to enjoy.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We played lots of fun games, with all classes!

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We sang Christmas songs!

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

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We made Advent calendars!

 

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We decorated our special Christmas trees!

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

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

I hope, they’ll work!

POST-HOLIDAY CLASS ACTIVITIES

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

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

Create a Holiday Memory Book

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

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 Make New Year Resolutions

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

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

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Have a Show and Tell

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

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Creative Writing Prompts

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

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

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Play a Fun Game

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

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Host a Party?

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

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

ABC and word games, on Halloween!

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Lately, we have been enjoying lots of fun Alphabet activities. Apples, leaves and pumpkins all lend themselves perfectly to letter learning activities, so we are embracing that and having tons of fun!
Here are my favorite ways to practice letter identification, uppercase and lowercase letter matching, letter sounds , word recognition and more!
Halloween Cup hunt 
  1. Write the letter of the Alphabet on the white sticker or directly onto the cups.
  2. Model how to play in whole group or small group setting.
  3. Have the children close their eyes.
  4. Place the eyeball/Halloween treat under one of the cups.
  5. Chant, “Eye Spy, I Spy.”
  6. Children open their eyes.
  7. Call on students one at a time to guess which cup is hiding the eyeball.
  8. Students read letter of the cup where they think the eyeball/treat  is.
  9. Students lift the cup to see if they are right
  10. Game continues until the eyeball/treat is found.
  11. Repeat game again.
  12. They can keep  the treat, only if they manage to say a word which starts with it as soon as they find it!

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All in all…These cups take up less room and work great for letters, words, and numbers too. The students  can:

  • Say the letter.
  • Say the sound.
  • Name something that begins with the letter.
  • Put the cups in ABC order first.
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The Pumpkin letter memory game

Alphabet Memory Game on…pumpkin templates!

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  1. Put the pumpkin  picture cards aside. Mix up all of the uppercase and lowercase cards.
  2. Place them face down on the table or floor in a grid-like pattern.
  3. Have a student choose two pumpkin cards anywhere on the grid.
  4. Are the letters a match? Big A with little a? If so, that student  gets to remove those cards from play and keep them for his/her team . He also gets to go again!
  5. If they don’t match, turn them back over, and the next person/team  goes. Even if the cards don’t match, encourage your students  to remember where those cards are in case they need to find them again!
  6. Keep playing until all of the cards have been matched. The team with the most matches wins the game.

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Game 2: Letter Sounds Memory Game with Halloween vocabulary!

This game is played the same way except you use one set of alphabet cards and the Halloween picture cards. Try to make a match by finding the picture’s beginning letter!

Set a timer for a few minutes and see how many matches he can get.

 

 

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 The Alphabet Monster
 I spread the letters/pictures  on a desk and tell my students  that the monster was VERY hungry and only eats letters/pictures … BUT that he can only eat them if you say the letter’s/picture’s name first.  They quickly pick out the letters that they already know and feed them to the monster saying each letter name as she put them in.  To make the game fun and playful, I make sounds for the monster … like, “Ohhhh, I’m so hungry!” and gobbling noises after they put a letter in the box.  This receives lots of giggles and silly smiles!
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Although we are using the box for alphabet identification, he can EASILY be changed into a number or color monster!

Variation:

A nice Halloween ABC variation that my students love, has to do with a….Monster!!

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I was inspired to create this last year reading an interesting  blog post and I thought I’d share it if anyone would like to use it. I just print a copy for each team . Then I laminate it and tape it onto a fly swatter with the middle part cut out. It can work as a letter monster, a word monster, or even a number monster. I also found a cute little rhyme to go with it.

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Halloween words- Ladders to the MOON!

This is a simple game.  First, I use tape to create the ladder or just draw it on the board .  Then, I write down high Halloween words or put up flash cards with letters and sounds .  The goal is to move all the way up the ladder.  If you get the word/letter/sound  right, you advance to the next rung.  If you get it wrong, you fall all the way back to the bottom.  Of course, it can work for kids on all levels and subjects.  It can be used for vocabulary, reading, ….math facts – the possibilities are endless.

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN IN CLASS!!

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European Day of Languages fun activities,in a… Library!

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The European Day of Languages has been celebrated every year since 2001 on 26 September, as an initiative of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

Throughout Europe, 800 million Europeans represented in the Council of Europe’s 47 member states are encouraged to learn more languages, at any age, in and out of school. Being convinced that linguistic diversity is a tool for achieving greater intercultural understanding and a key element in the rich cultural heritage of our continent, the Council of Europe promotes plurilingualism in the whole of Europe.

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The European Day of Languages celebrates plurilingualism and encourages the 800 million Europeans in the Council of Europe’s 47 member states to learn more languages.

 

 

For the day, a range of events is organised across Europe: activities for and with children, television and radio programmes, language classes and conferences.

Modern foreign language education aims to develop multilingualism and intercultural awareness. In this theoretical framework, the foreign language can be used as a bridge among the students’ languages and serve as a tool to develop translinguistic competence.

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This year, I’ve  decided to write, about  the activities our local “English Language Teachers Association” created, for the European Day of languages event, which was held in the local Public Library, on 26th September 2016!

Also, I  used most of those activities in my class, the very next day, with huge success!

Here we go…..

BRAINSTORMING TIME !!

Children aged 8-12 , had the chance to know a lot about the different languages spoken, not only in Europe but, all over the World, by watching several videos, singing and taking part in a discussion .

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They shared their experiences concerning their mother tongue and all the foreign languages they had been exposed to.

GAMES TIME !!

Later, they worked in teams and played a Quiz game. They answered questions about different Languages, testing their knowledge and having fun ! A bomb timer was used ,to add more excitement to the game!

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In the next game, a representative from each team , had to wear a special hat, with the name of a language written on it. His/her fellow players, had to help him/her  guess the name of that Language, using miming, key words, descriptions, movement and more…That was fun!!

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“BOOK TREASURE HUNT”!!

Then, it was time for our Book Treasure Hunt, in the Library!

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The teams, had to move around the room, and  look for  12 books, well hidden in the shelves, with titles written in many different Languages! There was a musical background during the Treasure Hunt and a time limit…..3 Songs ,with lyrics in 3 different European languages!

GIFTS!!

All the kids, were rewarded with the  “European Day of Languages” bracelet and special stickers !

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ARTS AND CRAFT!!

The next activity, enhanced the kids’ artistic expression!

The children had to create the Multilingualism Tree , full of cute Owls, speaking many different Languages.

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“Hello” IN ALL LANGUAGES!!

The final activity ,was to write  “Hello” in as many Languages as possible, on special mouth-masks!

And , of course, they greeted each other in all those Languages, holding their mouth-masks!

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I used most of these activities in my class, the very next day! My students loved them and had so much fun! Here are some photos…

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With my older students, we also played a favourite game I have written about, in a previous post: The multilingual game”  !

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With my very young learners, we played several circle games practicing “Hello” and “Goodbye” or “Goodmorning” and ” Goodnight” . But, the most fun thing we did, was to have our mascot Hippo, talk to us about his hometown London! We made beautiful drawings of Hippo’s most favourite places in London! We even asked Hippo lots of questions about his life there and learned so many things about life in a different country, in Europe ! It was a fun-fun day!

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And don’t forget: WE ALL SMILE IN THE SAME LANGUAGE!

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April Fool’s Day pranks for students!

DSCN0090This year , I decided to have  some  April Fool’s Day fun in class !I celebrated April Fools’ Day with several well  chosen tricks,  that kept my students giggling ,all day long.

I looked for ideas on line and I tried the ones below, with huge success, with 4 different classes. ( 2nd-6th graders)

With my 2nd graders, whom I teach Art,  I just did the following ( which reaaaly worked!): I told them that we were all going on a field trip to someplace fun, at the end of the day. I  asked them to use their imagination and DRAW that place and finally see if they were  right! I promised lollipops, to the ones who might guess right! Their drawings were fantastic! Most of them drew the nearby park or the nearest burger house – When it got to be almost the end of the day,I told  them that the ‘fun’ place was actually their… homes! Zing!

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With my 3rd graders, I decided to begin the lesson of the day, with my mouth moving but, no sound coming out !! That REALLY freaked them out!! The funniest thing was that, most of them could actually read my lips and respond to what I asked them to do or say, naturally!!

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With my 4th graders, I decided to write a special ” Truths and Lies about my English Teacher ” worksheet and have them work in groups, to figure out how much information was true  and suggest alternatives for points which they considered as …lies!

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With my 5th and 6th graders, I used two hilarious activities I had found on www.busyteacher.org !

A grammar-of-the-day  worksheet went out to the class, and in minutes, we were all dumbfounded. The questions were incomprehensible, written in complete gibberish. I went along with the joke. They  had 20 minutes to finish it, and it was going to be worth a substantial amount of points. The different tasks, were also fun!

eg Draw and write about your Teacher’s life in the future or write about your next week’s plans on the Moon!

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I don’t remember how long the gag lasted exactly, but I do remember all of them sitting there, mouths agape, wondering if the assignment was serious. Then, once they had  all thrown their hands up, I let them in on the joke: “April Fool’s!”

 

The second worksheet, was a TEST! The test was worth…100 points! It was a test to see how well they could follow instructions! If they could not finish the test in time, they would lose ..300 points! They only had ..10 minutes to finish the Test! That freaked them out!

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Some task examples: Write your name backwards 5 times, Write the names of ten colors, Tap the person sitting closest to you 5 times on the right shoulder etc

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If I had older students, I would definitely use these amazing British Council lesson plans !

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April Fool’s Day is the perfect time to play some light-hearted pranks on our friends, family, and co-workers; and if you’re a teacher, pulling an unexpected fast one on your students can be entertaining — and memorable — for everyone. So if you’re  hoping to bring a humor lesson into the classroom, this is the right day to do it! Enjoy! We did!

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Mardi Gras: fun class games

 

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Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” in French. It is a celebration full of feasting and merriment just before Lent is ushered in for the 40 days of “self denial” leading up to Easter. Mardi Gras is the time to march in parades, eat treats, sing and dance, and generally celebrate good times.

This is a great opportunity to have a fabulous party for our students in the English class, too!

Here are some game ideas, I use in my class…..

We play classic children’s games with a Mardi Gras twist, such as musical chairs.

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Instructions:

I set up chairs in a tight circle, with the seats facing outward. We should have one less chair than you have children participating. I place a Mardi Gras mask underneath each chair. I play some Latin  music. When the music starts, the kids must walk around the chairs. When the music stops, they must quickly find a seat and put the masks to their faces. The child who doesn’t have a seat is out. I take away another chair for the next round. The game continues in the same manner until only two kids are battling over one chair.

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For a version of “Simon Says,” have the kids play “Mardi Gras King or Queen Says.”

Instructions:

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The leader might say, “Mardi Gras Queen says march in place,” and the kids must follow. However, if the leader gives a command and doesn’t say “Mardi Gras Queen says,” the kids are not to follow the command. Anyone who does is out.

Scavenger Hunt Games

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I sometimes, scatter the Mardi Gras bead or Pasta (!)  necklaces my students have made at home, following written instructions, all over the classroom area for the kids to find and put around their necks. The person with the most necklaces , wins.

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I also, hide a special Mardi Gras necklace, which an American friend who had been in New Orleans, sent me some years ago…. The child who finds that necklace ,earns a special prize.

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This year, we had  a scavenger hunt with carnival masks and other party stuff. I put them all in a…treasure  box. I gave  the kids a clue each time ,as to the location of the next clue card. I put the children in pairs to figure the clues to find the Treasure Box. The winners are the first children to bring back all the clue cards, in order.

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Contests

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I ask the  students, to come to the lesson  dressed  in their best or most creative Mardi Gras gear. The outfits can be anything with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold,  or not….For example, some of my students, this year have decided to improvise and wear their own clothes, upside down!!. Students, vote for the best costume. They cannot vote for themselves. The most fun thing is, that I have the students  do a …Catwalk Mardi Gras Best Costume competition! We have to describe what students who take part  are wearing , before we vote! Great order of adjectives, practice!

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For a mask contest, I give each of my younger students, an undecorated paper Mardi Gras mask. The children must decorate their masks using any art and craft items you have on hand such as glitter, paint, feathers and stickers. Each child will get to stand up and present her mask to the group. The children then vote — by secret ballot — for their favorite mask.

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With my very young learners, we played ” Carnival dictation ” on the board.

Instructions:

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1.I draw about 6-8 masks on the one side of the board and the same number of Masks on the other.

2.Assign the kids to either Carnival King or Carnival Queen  teams

3.I ask a player from each team in turns, to come to the board and write a word they are given, on one of their team Masks.

4.   If they are correct they move to the next ,mask  towards the finish.

5.If one student is not correct, their team miss a turn. If both players are not correct, the next two players proceed!

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We also did an “Orange dance” with Carnival music! A dance which requires  collaboration between the partners and is so much fun!!

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Finally, we love playing “ Mardi Gras whispers“!

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Similar to ” Chinese Whispers” , but this time, we use Mardi Gras and Carnival vocabulary! It’s a fun way to revise new words! I always ask the last person in the row, to come and WRITE the word on the board! This way, we practice spelling, too! They get a point for their team if they get it right!

We love Mardi Gras in class! What about you?…..

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NEW favourite Christmas games and activities

 

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

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

I’m sharing some NEW ideas and  games that have really worked with my students, this year!

An Alternative Advent calendar

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I just love Advent calendars and I use different ones, each year in class! This year, we had  an alternative advent calendar, where we all had to do an act of kindness, each day. I found the idea on http://www.muminthemadhouse.com/

Kindness can cost nothing and I want to teach my students to be kinder than they need to be and feel that focusing on acts of kindness during Advent , will be a great learning experience and also spread some joy.

Our kindness mission statement:

  • Spread the word – encourage other people to join in and become happiness heroes
  • Have fun and enjoy making other people happy
  • To be kinder than you need to be

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I loved this  idea! We should remind  kids that, it’s more about the giving than the receiving. It is so easy to lose track of it in all the dazzle and ads and gifts and lights outside. It all becomes about the gifts and not the meaning and spirit of the holiday.

I used an old Advent calendar I had  at home, but you can also use the classroom  wall, as the ideal place to display the Advent trees. You can simply blue tac’d them to the wall.  This would work well on any surface and be topped  with a lovely star decoration.

Another idea is a hanging Advent Calendar . You can use small pegs, but strung them on to cord and then hung the trees  on the wall.

Some acts of kindness ideas for your own  Advent Calendar!

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  1. Donate a coat or jumper to charity (leaving a happy note in the pocket)
  2. Donate to the local food bank
  3. Make christmas cards for your neighbours
  4. Leave change in the vending machine
  5. Sort through your toys and donate any that you no longer play with to charity or your local church
  6. Leave chalk messages around where you live
  7. Sharpen all the pencils in the classroom at breaktime
  8. Write a letter to your sibling telling them why you love them
  9. Leave a beautiful homemade bookmark in your library book and give one to the Librarian
  10. Leave the pound in the shopping trolley next time you go to the supermarket
  11. Deliver cookies to your neighbours
  12. Tidy your bedroom
  13. Write a note and mail them to the houses with great christmas lights saying thank you for lighting up their house for you to see
  14. Sit next to someone you normally don’t at the lunch table and be nice to them
  15. Be a holiday helper – volunteer to deliver local christmas cards
  16. Make a bird feeder
  17. Send a care package to someone in the military
  18. Find three of your toys to give to the local childrens hospital
  19. Pass on some of your books to friends
  20. Give a lottery ticket to a stranger
  21. Donate books to your school library
  22. Leave out water for the birds
  23. Write thank you cards for your teacher, coach, Cubs leader or people that have influenced you in a positive way
  24. Clean up the area where you live by picking up litter.  Make sure you wear gloves and do it with an adult.
  25. Help round the house without being asked to
  26. Donate pet food to a local shelter
  27. Put together a shoebox for your local church
  28. Write a thank you note for the bin collectors and post person
  29. Wash your parents car
  30. Give a homeless person a blanket
  31. Deice your neighbours windshields in the morning
  32. Take everyone in your class a candy cane or cookie
  33. Take poinsettias to your nearest nursing home
  34. Make a christmas card for the school receptionist
  35. Offer to help an elderly friend or neighbour with their christmas decorations
  36. Make christmas flowers for the reception at school
  37. Make a thank you card for the school crossing staff
  38. Cook dinner for your family
  39. Offer to pack the shopping bags of the person in front of you and behind you at the supermarket
  40. Invite a new friend for a play date or out to play
  41. Walk someone elses dog
  42. Give out a complement
  43. Give out free hugs today
  44. Hold the door open for people all day
  45. Smile all day
  46. Let someone go in front of you in a queue
  47. Introduce yourself to someone new at school and chat with them
  48. Ring an elderly relative and have a nice chat to them

My super power

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I ask my student to imagine that , from 1/1/201…, all of them possess a super power that no one else knows about. The reason they were given these powers is so that they can use them to become better people and change the World!

I ask them to create the superhero version of themselves and explain why this superpower is important and what is the thing they can change about themselves or the World!

 

New Year acrostic poem

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Each student should refer to something they would like to achieve/change/have or not have for this year.

eg This year I’d like to have

2 large pieces of chocolate cake every day

0 worries and problems

1 big brown bookcase

6 months of vacation

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My 201…infographic

I ask my students to create their infographics about their hopes or ambitions. Found the idea on http://www.easel.ly

 

Fortune teller

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I ask them to write down 3 new things they would like to try this year and test whether their wishes ill come true afterwards…A great warming-up, too.

Year in review

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This is a nice activity for older students. I ask them to write short paragraphs about the things that made last year special/difficult/challenging for them. It can be done with or without a photos collage.

My New Year message to the world

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I ask them to imagine that, their words of hope and prayers for the New Year ,might reach the troubled young people either here or in distant war-torn countries.

Then I write this question on the board:

What would your message say, and to whom would you send it?

The elf poem

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This is an amazing activity which I learned about in one of the Tesol Macedonia/Thrace/Northern Greece Christmas events, a couple of years ago….I think, the activity was presented to us by Katerina Kyriakidou.

I tell my kids that, they are going to hear a poem twice. After each dictation they have to write down as much as they can remember from the poem.

We can give them any poem.Then, the class dictates the poem back to the teacher.This poem below, was written by Linda Brown.

” I saw an elf, all dressed in green

The cutest elf I’ve ever seen

I said:  like your turned-up toes

He wrinkled up his elfin nose

I said: I like your nice green beard

He blushed and smiled

then, disappeared!”

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My variation to this activity was to ask them write their own similar poems, as homework!

The plate drawing game

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This is one old-time-classic game, we all love!

This year, I could not afford to buy paper plates for all my students, therefore we used A4 sheets of paper to draw on….

Students, place their plates on top of their heads and are given the directions below:

  1. Draw a line for a floor
  2. Draw a Christmas tree . Add decorations of your choice.
  3. Draw a star on top of the tree
  4. Draw a fireplace with a mantel next to the tree
  5. Draw a present under the tree
  6. Draw a stocking hanging from the mantel of the fireplace.Add something IN it, if possible.

Winner: the player with the most points

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Points

2 points if the tree touches the floor

2 points if the stocking is touching the mantel

1 point if the star is above the tree

1 point if the star touches the tree

1 point if the fireplace doesn’t touch he tree

1 point if you draw something in the stocking

2 points, if the present is under the tree.

An alternative letter to Santa

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I ask  the older students to write a letter to Santa asking for a present for someone ELSE!

I begin by bringing a homemade present I received or made for someone.

What makes that present special? Does it reflect the personality of the giver?

I then invite my students to tell about presents they have made for others. Why are such presents so remembered?I even have them ask their parents about special presents they have given and received.

Presents from the Heart

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I ask students to think of presents from the heart and tell or write about them ( preferably, on festive paper) starting out like this:

The gift I would most want to have two years from now is………

The gift you most often give to me, maybe without even knowing is…….

If I had only one wish to wish you, I would wish you………….

Thank you for all the gifts you give to me, especially………………………

Story or class discussion starters

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Why do you think being an elf is a “toyriffic” job?

With so much work to be done, when do you think Santa’s elves get a chance to celebrate?

How are they getting ready for Christmas?

What would an elf want for Christmas?

What elf jobs would you like to do?

How do you think the workshop and elf jobs will be different in 2020?

Musical Xmas

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I first read about this activity in the ELTNews newspaper , November 2010 issue . It was one of the inspiring ideas shared there, by Akis Davanelos , a Greek teacher trainer and publisher.If you manage to find that issue and read the whole article about how to             ” Practice GRAMMAR before Christmas”, on page 10, you’ll be surprised by his amazing ideas!

Akis, suggests that we could use the following songs to practice various grammar points:

Past tenses:

Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer

Frosty the Snowman

Prepositions

Jingle Bells

The Christmas song ( Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…)

Pronunciation points ( Rhyming words)

Frosty the Snowman

Jingle bell rock

Let it snow

Rocking around the Christmas tree

The Christmas song

Winter Wonderland

Away in a Manger

We Three Kings

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We can also, ask our students to write their own versions based on well known Xmas tunes.

The twelve days of Christmas

The Christmas song

The Christmas story book game

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A game I ..invented this year and my students simply loved!  I read them a story about Christmas customs and traditions in other countries. Each time they heard the name of a country, they had to pass a little notebook mosa15christmasgames (768x1024) to the person on their right! The last student, could take it home!They really loved it, and it was the perfect motivator for them , to get focused on the story !

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Christmas Charades

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A traditional game with a Christmas twist…

Put the class into two teams.

Give each team a set of cards.

Explain the rules: One person from each team starts. He/she will select a card. on each card is written the name of a song, book or film (with a Christmas link). He/she must then mime what is said on the card to the rest of his/her group. No speaking is allowed.

First, we should mime the category, ie song-open hands around mouth, book- open hands in a book reading pose and projector-like pose for a film.

Star wars!

Star wars!

Also, explain symbols for “little words” eg T shape for “the”, thumb and forehead together for “little word” etc.

When the team guesses the first one, the second person can take a card and so on.

The winners are the first team to mime and guess all their cards correctly.

The “Thank you” game

You need a pen and a piece of paper for each player.

In every turn, each player has to write one line on the piece of paper in their hand, fold it over so that the next player can’t see what has been written and pass it on to the player on their left.

In order, each payer has to write:

  1. The name of the person receiving the letter-someone famous is best.
  2. Thanks for a particular present.
  3. A line describing the present or what is good about it.
  4. A line saying what the present is going to be used for.
  5. A closing sentence.

When you have finished, take turns to read the hilarious results!

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For more Christmas fun ideas, you should read my last year post: Our English class favourite Christmas games

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Halloween fun is on!

What is it about Halloween that I love so much ? It’s its  FUN element, I guess….

I decided to try and bring some Halloween spirit to my class  this year, too. I attempted to teach my  students Halloween themed lessons, and to  elicit some  excitement from them. I feel that I at least paid Halloween  a pretty good tribute.

I have written about our class Halloween activities in a couple of older posts, too. Today, I wish to share some favourite Halloween links  with amazing Halloween ESL activities !

http://busyteacher.org/3523-spooky-halloween-fun-for-your-esl-class.html

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/halloween

http://www.eslkidstuff.com/HalloweenGames.htm#.VkUKVdIrLIU

http://www.esolcourses.com/links/halloween-resources.html

http://oupeltglobalblog.com/2014/10/23/efl-classroom-activities-and-resources-for-halloween/

http://genkienglish.net/halloween.htm

 

Why I like Halloween ESL lessons so much??

Halloween lessons evoke the spirit of the holiday. Whether we  teach in an English-speaking country or not, Halloween is a perfect period to have fun while providing learning opportunities for our students.

Halloween lessons are a marvelous way to bridge a few cultural gaps. Most likely, our  students have had some type of exposure to Halloween—whether through movies, cartoons or the internet. This is your opportunity to fill any gaps and share a bit of another culture with our students.

Holiday-themed lessons play a vital role in switching up the hum-drum of a normal day’s routine. Holidays offer excellent opportunities for our students to learn new cultural themes and new vocabulary  all while having fun.

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Playing with the alphabet, on Halloween day!

 

 

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Playing an alphabet “Trick or Treat”!

 

 

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More ,start of the school year, fun!

 

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Building a classroom community is very important and is an indicator of success. Icebreakers and other activities are important to implement during the first days of a new school year. It is important for all students to feel welcome and a part of their small community which actually a part of an even bigger one. Feeling comfortable will help create resilient learners that have confidence in sharing their ideas without fear of being judged.

Sharing some of my favourite activities, here, today…….

The ball game

Have all the kids stand up .  As a group think of 5 questions that they want to find out about each other such as:

What is your name?

When is your birthday?

What is your favorite color?

What is your favorite food?

Name something you are good at?

After you decide on the questions you can start the game.  Give one player the ball.  Have them throw the ball across the circle to another player.  Whoever catches it has to answer one of  the 5 questions- the one the person who has thrown the ball is asking him/her.  When they answer the questions they throw it to another player who then does the same .  To make sure everyone gets a turn make it a rule that you have to throw the ball to someone that didn’t already have a turn.

Variation: I ask them to say a reason they think they are special , each time they catch the ball or share a fact about them nobody in class knows …..

Words about me

I saw this one on Pinterest and thought it would be a great way to revise some vocabulary and boost their self-esteem, at the same time .  The students had to find at least 20 words that describe themselves. They had a great time working on this activity. This was also an encouragement to the students because they realized that they have some great qualities to share with the world.

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With older students, we do ” I am special because..” They have to write as many reasons they can think of , why  they are special!I use the body template below… A great self-esteem booster, too.

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Scavenger Hunt

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Children are given a list of questions about their class and classroom to answer. First most accurate sheet wins. Some examples are: How many children are in this class, how many girls/boys are there, how many dictionaries are in the room,  where are the games kept….This activity helps the children get to know each other and their new classroom.

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Students playing and having fun, while learning new languages!

Students playing and having fun, while learning new languages!

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A ball of yarn

One of my favorite getting-to-know you activity is building a friendship web using a ball of yarn. We all sit in a circle and I start with a ball of yarn ( I say my name and something that makes me special and then throw the yarn to a friend. When my friend catches the yarn, he/she states his/her name and shares a reason he/she is special  and then throws it to another friend. It is a great way for everyone to get to know each other. I tell all the children we are building a friendship class web where we are always here to help each other. They really enjoy this activity and always ask to do it again!

 

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Self portraits

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Have students draw and color self-portraits on the first day of school. These self-portraits make great displays for back-to-school night and perfect keepsakes to pull out at the end of the year.This activity would be further enhanced by having students write an “I Am” poem. Each line of the list poem starts with the phrase, “I am”. You could also add other phrases such as ” I have..”, “I can…”, ” I like…” etc. Students brainstorm descriptive phrases about themselves to write their poems. Younger students could brainstorm a list of descriptors as a group and copy their ideas onto sentence strips to write a class poem

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Shhh Spray

I made up some “Quiet Spray!”  You spray the ROOM to signal children to get quiet.  Or you can just leave the bottle empty.  Mine love the mist in the air.  It is so funny!  {I do not condone spraying a child!  As much as you might want to!  Ha! ;)}

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Brain Sprinkles

1. To playfully encourage anxious kiddos during test time or challenging academic times throughout the year 2. To playfully encourage students to THINK or USE THEIR BRAINS when conflicts, problem-solving situations, anger-inducing situations, or social situations arise

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I took an empty spice container, created a cute label, then filled the container with beads and glitter. I shake the container over their heads, and…boom! They are revitalized. Sometimes I use them on myself. I love to give everyone brain sprinkles right before a test. Some even ask if I can shake a little extra sprinkles for them!

Name chant

This cute chant , is the way for my juniors to get to know each other’s names  , the very first day in our  English class! Sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques”.

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I am done Jar

I created an “I’m Done” jar for my fast finishers and it was seriously amazing! I always had students who finished their “must do’s” quickly. They just got it! When they came up to me and exclaimed, “Teacher! I’m done!” I generally would just tell them to go read a book/magazine . I wanted to figure out *more* ways to challenge and engage my students who finished quickly. So I complied a list of activities  that would be fun and meaningful for my students and stuck them in a jar. It worked wonders!

 

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Bulletin boards

I always create my class bulletin boards, before the school year starts!They help me improve effectiveness and enjoyment of lessons . They make my classroom visually appealing and stimulating to my  students

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 Fill in the funny blanks

Sometimes, I give them a sheet of paper with funny info about me and ask them to work in teams and correct the info which is not right, by guessing! They love this activity! They always guess wrong about my age!!….

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Our mail box

There is a mail box in class, where anybody who wishes to write me a letter can do so, any time they feel like it! The first letter I send them myself,  is at the beginning of each school year, welcoming them to our class  and I always ask them to write back sharing their hopes, fears, expectations, goals, feelings…..

Here are some of their letters , this year!

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Three truths and a lie

I play a game called 3 Truths and 1 Lie and have students tell their three most favourite things  and one  untrue fact. It is up to the class to guess which fact is untrue.

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All about me paper figures 

I provide each student with a small paper cutout in the shape of a human, or have students cut out their own paper figures. I ask each student to write his or her name on the cutout and all about him/her they would like us to know…

These cutouts make a beautiful classroom walls display!

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Posters  entitled ‘About Me’

They have  spaces for a photo of the child, likes and dislikes (foods, movies, books etc), about their family, what they like to do in their spare time,  what makes them special….

It’s a way for me to get to know the children and if the children are new to each other, its great for them to learn more about each other and find a new friend with similar or same interests.It is also a good self esteem booster!

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Cute selfies, on our classroom walls

Using  templates ( there are so many of them on Pinterest, eg https://www.pinterest.com/pin/248401735675011808/ ) , students draw their selfie (self portrait) onto a smart phone template handout. They then select from the variety of text message (writing prompts) and answer questions for back to school, Halloween, New Year’s or end of the year. This year, I have  decided to ask them to choose from alternative back-to-school  text message  topics:

 

  • What I DIDN’T DO this summer
  • A unique person I met this summer
  • My most memorable moment of the summer
  • One thing I learned this summer
  • The person I spent the most time with this summer
  • The best meal I ate this summer
  • Something educational I did this summer
  • Something I bought this summer
  • Something I made this summer

 

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Cute selfies, on our classroom walls!!

Cute selfies, on our classroom walls!!

Our birthday calendar

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When it’s a student’s birthday, I give him/her a special birthday card and they have to wear their birthday hat , during the lesson! In the beginning of each school year, I ask them to use this calendar to mark their birthdays on.

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A class poster

A poster with their class photos, on their first day in class, is always a precious keepsake.

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Me in a Bag

I ask them to bring a bag to school on the first day with things –no more than 3 (objects, pictures, etc.) that tell about them, their family, and things they like. I start by sharing my bag and telling about myself and my family. After seeing what’s in my box and sharing my stories about each objects, students can’t wait to show their objects and talk about themselves. I learn a great deal about each child and their lives. This is also a great speaking activity! Classmates are given an opportunity to ask a question or share a compliment.

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Time capsule

I make a Time Capsule every year with my students, as one of my first activities. It includes their goals for the new school year. One they have each completed one, they fold it up and seal it and it goes in a box that I have labeled Time Capsule. In May,they open the one from September and to much of their surprise many goals are NOT accomplished , over the course of eight months.  This activity is always a winner with my students. I have been doing it for years!

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The first days of school, can be stressful for everyone, but these activities  will help you and your students get to know each other in a fun, interactive way to help build the classroom environment all year long!

What are your favorite first days activities?

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Some of our “European Day of Languages” activities

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Eighty-one per cent of adults regret not having learned another language and while of course it’s never too late, children do have the advantage in language learning.The European day of Languages, celebrated on 26 September, is a wonderful opportunity to inspire young people and get them excited about learning languages.

I always make sure we do several activities to celebrate that special day, with all my classes!

I am sharing, what we did, this year!

First, we played a really fun game to learn about 12 European languages in just one teaching hour!!

Our multilingual game!

I gave students a handout with 12 names of European countries, their flags, and four different phrases typed next to each country, in 12 different languages:

How are you?

Well.

So and so.

Bad.

I had them work in small groups of 5-6 students This  is a game  where a number of chairs  one less than the number of players are arranged facing outward with the players standing in a circle just outside of that. The first player,who’s standing,  asks the person sitting next to him ” How are you” in one of the languages on the handout. He has to reply by using any of the three phrases above, in the same language!

Students playing and having fun, while learning new languages!

Students playing and having fun, while learning new languages!

If he decides to reply  ” Well”, nothing happens and the standing player asks the same question to the very next student. If he answers ” So and so”, he changes chairs with the student sitting on his left. If he replies “Bad” , all players run around the chairs!  Usually, music  is played while the players in the circle run in unison around the chairs. When the music stops, each player attempts to sit down in one of the chairs. The player who is left without a chair is the next player to ask ” How are you ” and start the game again.

My students had so much fun playing this game and asked me to play it again and again! The result was that, they finally managed to remember most of the phrases on the handout and use them with confidence during the breaks, as well….

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Whole school languages survey

I carried out a survey of languages spoken amongst school community – included staff, pupils and family members. I collected, displayed and interpreted data. I created a display for a prominent location in the school.

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An exchange of students’ photos for the European day of languages.

We arranged that exchange , with colleagues from several  European countries . We all  belong in the same facebook group “Celebrate the European Day of Languages (EDL) 26th of September”
We had two choices:
1.- to send a postcard (homemade) by mail with the  greeting “Happy European Day of Languages “ (in our language) from (name of our school) to (name of a school we are sending to)
2. – to  prepare a big poster in our mother tongue: “GREETINGS FROM STUDENTS OF (MY SCHOOL’S NAME) TO STUDENTS OF (YOUR SCHOOL’S NAME AND PLACE WHERE IT IS)”. You  can add the logo of European Day of Languages if you want.

We took a photo of our students holding the poster and sent the photo by email. My students were thrilled to see the name of our school in all the photos-cards we received, in return !!

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Creating a poster : ” Write Good morning in another language “

A number of students in our school, speak a foreign language. I thought it would be good to make the poster below,  and display it in school!I decided to display it in a long , busy corridor  . Students loved adding new words on it, during the breaks!

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And…don’t forget: WE ALL SMILE IN THE SAME LANGUAGE!