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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The most beautiful english coursebook award!

The winner's Cup!

The winner’s Cup!

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

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

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

Having a look at the candidate books in groups…

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

Magic Book pilot edition is also generating Magic Book 1, ( 3rd graders book)  which will be ready for publication in full colour ,hopefully, this year!
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Τhis is what one of the book pages looks like, after the student’s artistic touch!

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

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

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

Alexiana,  was among the winners!

Alexiana, was among the winners!

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

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

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

Happy owners of really beutiful coursebooks!

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

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

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

Book Award Ceremony

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

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

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

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

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