“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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interactive Grammar Notebooks-part c

As I had already written in my first  and second posts on Interactive Grammar Notebooks, last year was my first year to use interactive notebooks.  Before school began, I found myself  with the desire PLUS precious  direction, from my  amazing Greek colleague, Papadeli Sophia !

I have to thank her again so much, for all the inspiration and support!

Overall, they were a success- Experimenting on them during this first school year with few students, among whom was my daughter, was great fun!…I’m sure, we’ll do much better this  year ,with all my afternoon classes, at school!

This  notebook is built, by adding each grammar skill or concept as an insert gradually throughout the year as they are introduced to new material. By the end of year, they  have a complete notebook they can use as a reference and I can use as an assessment tool or portfolio piece.This is simple and can be done with any grammar curriculum we are using.

First, I used a common notebook,  school glue, scissors and markers/colored pencils. Since we are fully stocked on school supplies, I did not need to make any new purchases.

Then, ideally, we should reserve the first 1-2 pages for the table of contents. I admit that, I didn’t do that, this first year…Going forward, we add a new page for each skill.

The next step is to find some ideas or even printables and foldables for the Grammar notebooks …I asked Sophia Papadeli to help me get started and I also visited Pinterest and used my imagination and creativity, of course!

Here are just  few new pages for you to have a look at, get inspired and hopefully, start your own Grammar Notebooks, this school year!

PREPOSITIONS OF PLACE/MOVEMENT/TIME

PREPOSITIONS OF TIME

PRESENT PROGRESSIVE

BE GOING TO

 

 

BE GOING TO for making predictions based on evedence

BE GOING TO -plans

WILL

PAST PROGRESSIVE

 

ARTICLES

RELATIVES

COUNTABLE-UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS

REPORTED SPEECH

EXPRESS FUTURE PLANS, USING THE PRESENT PROGRESSIVE

SOME/ANY- EXPRESSING QUANTITY

MODALS ( A guessing game, using pictures)

 

EASTER Hopscotch

I can assure you that,   students remember and correctly spell about the same number of EASTER  words after learning with HOPSCOTCH, as they do after a teacher-centered lesson.

Importantly however, they enjoy playing this  game very much and they report better attitudes towards studying English after learning vocabulary with HOPSCOTCH and games in general, compared to traditional teaching.

All that is required for this fun game is a few Easter sight words  and sidewalk chalk or masking tape.

On rainy days, consider using masking tape on a floor and write each Easter word on a piece of tape or index card – just make sure kids do not slip on the index card while playing the game.

You can also use the “portable” Hopscotch, like the one in the photo below…You can carry it with you to a different classroom each time, in case you don’t have your own classroom!

 

  1. You can play with Easter pictures to help aid recognition or practice new words.
  1. Add numbers to aid in number recognition and  practice plurals. eg ” Seven eggs”
  2. Add colors to help with color recognition, too.” Seven red eggs”
  3. Play with spelling words.  Have child read word, then look away and practice orally spelling the word.

  1. With older students, play with vocabulary words –child tells you definition of word they land on.
  1. Play with English words and mother tongue .For example, write an Easter word like “Church” and child has to tell me word in mother tongue..
  1. Spell hopscotch:Give each student an Easter word to spell as she jumps through the boxes. If she spells the word wrong, she must repeat that word on her next turn. The first person to get through the entire board wins a point for her team.

      8.Word hopscotch:Method: – Draw a simple hopscotch outline on the floor with chalk , use tape or use the “Portable” version of it.

– Children take turns to hop (walk or jump) from square to square – On each square they say an Easter word that they know. These may be words in general, or words    associated with a particular Easter topic or theme, eg Spring, Food, Traditions etc. – When they run out of words they must ‘give up’ .

Variation: – Teacher puts pictures /flashcards of familiar Easter objects on each square -Children must name the objects as they hop onto the square…… More difficult:  -Children must say something about the object in the picture.

Hippo and 1st graders! The importance of a mascot in class

Class mascots can be “friends” that help the students on their learning journey.

Our own ,1st graders class mascot, is our cute Hippo!!

Hippo, plays various roles in our classroom. He sits and watches over our class to make sure they are doing the right thing or plays and sings with us  ! He is the reason, my little ones want to learn English- to be able to communicate with him, without my…help!

Having a class mascot adds a little fun and humour to the classroom, too. We often laugh about what Hippo has been up to on the weekend, and his ability to fall asleep at any moment, is an ongoing lesson!

The students have helped to develop Hippo’s personality and interests.

If you have never  used a class mascot before, here’s  how to get started:

Choose a particular stuffed animal or toy as your class mascot and have children decide upon a name for their new friend. Then brainstorm with children some background information about the mascot. Some ideas might be:

  • Where and when it was born
  • All about its family
  • What its personality is like
  • How it got its distinctive features
  • Its best friends
  • What it likes to do
  • Where it has already traveled

The children can not only learn from the mascot, but can also  teach the mascot what they have learned .

The mascot can award stickers or small rewards to students who have  positive behavior for the week! Maybe the mascot could bring in his/her favorite book  for a read aloud. I have done this with the book “Hippo and friends” and have shared my experience in this blog post!

Use your imagination and think of how to integrate the puppet into your daily routines and teaching. There are so many possibilities!

I find the mascot to be an endearing member of the class. The students love Hippo like a friend.  They respond to Hippo as a teacher and seem to really listen to what he has to say.

The way  students really respond to our mascot, is just fantastic – I wonder at what age that enthusiasm and imagination starts to fade….

I often have other mascots coming to visit us for a couple of weeks… Princess Elizabeth, Hippo’s cousin from London has become the kids’ favourite!

They have even  learned how to bow to Her Royal Highness ! When they heard that she is not married..yet and she’s still looking for her Prince, they started suggesting  their.. brothers, uncles or cousins, for her future husband!! That was hilarious!

There are also some of Hippo’s friends : Mr Owl, Mr Elephant , Miss Duck etc

Kids are looking forward to Hippo’s visit in our class ! They miss him so much!

They talk about him at home! They bring him their own animal friends, to help him  make new friends and feel less lonely  ! They ask him questions about his hometown and country! They want to know more about his family, back home! By the way, his family is a… pink Elephant family-Hippo is…. adopted !- but, they don’t seem to find that weird ,at all ! !

Young learners get attached to mascots very quickly, especially if you bring it to every class and let the students touch, hug and talk to it. My students love offering our puppet water and got very concerned when Hippo got ill and had to go to hospital! Or had to wear glasses ! They also feel the need to give him a hug , each time he misses his mother, who lives in London!

It’s true that, class mascots can quickly give your room a sense of character and responsibility. They’re also a lot of fun! Whether it’s a live rat, a guinea pig, or a plastic potato with a silly grin, your mascot can become an incredibly rich part of the students’ year.

I can’t wait to see what fun we’ll have with Hippo and his friends  ,next!

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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The snowball throw Alphabet game and.. a Letter Monster!

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Students love sports and any game that gives them the opportunity to throw or kick a ball at something is a win! This game, which I have come across on Pinterest, is a great way to bring winter fun indoors . Plus, it gives the students  a chance to burn off their energy when stuck inside. It reinforces letter/word recognition and letter sounds while also developing gross motor skills like coordination. It is so simple and easy to set up too!

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Materials 

Package of ping pong balls (affiliate) –You can also make a sticky tape ball or a simple paper ball.

ABC or vocabulary flashcards

Tape

or

A marker or other writing utensil

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Once I have all the flashcards taped to the wall,or letters/words written on the board, I explain the game to the kids.

They work in two teams. I tell them that they have to throw snowballs at the letters/words – pretend snowballs! They need to hold on to a snowball and wait for me to call out a letter.. Afterward, they have to locate the letter on the wall and throw the snowball at it.

Then, they tell me what sound that letter makes or what words start with that letter or the name of the letter in the Alphabet…. If they are right, they win a point for their team.

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I use the same game for word recognition, before we finish the Alphabet. If you wish to do the same after you have finished teaching  the Alphabet and some basic vocabulary, you can ask the players to spell the word they hit, or you can spell a word for the players to spot and hit! The teacher could also, call a word in the student’s mother tongue . The players find and throw the snowball at the corresponding English word on the board, to win a point for their team.

If younger  students don’t know the letter sounds yet, you can just call out a letter and they can throw a snowball at it once they find it on the wall. For a faster paced game, you can call out a letter sound and the players throw a snowball at the corresponding letter.

This is tons of fun! We have done most of the game variations above and my little ones enjoyed them all. Some of the letters were high up on the board, so he had the extra challenge of trying to hit those letters with the  ball.

I love it when my students are happy! Games, make them happy, for sure! I am sure, your students will enjoy this play-based literacy activity, too !

 

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

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.

Here’s the template.

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This strategy is a fun way for students to get engaged. It teaches reading in a fun way. It helps students look at all the letters in a word one by one. This strategy also teaches blending. The students look at one letter at a time and blend them together to make a word. This strategy can be applied to all areas across the curriculum. Students will be assessed by using the letter monster swatter.

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It is all about making real connections with our students…..

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There is a strong possibility that I’ll have to change school, next school year!

The school I am currently working in, is a small state school, with basic facilities, located  in a ,rather small, Greek town…

I admit that, I have faced many challenges  there, so far…

For example, I had to fund  my eTwinning and other projects , myself..!

Unfortunately, my headmasters were reluctant  to support my work, both financially and practically !

Therefore, I had to organize school Christmas Bazaars,in our English class, to earn some money, both for my class projects and the school needs in digital equipment, every year !

In the long run,  those Bazaars have been proven surprisingly  beneficial, for  my students! As beneficial, as our European projects and our end-of-the-school-year musicals and shows !

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So many great memories…!

Every single day, brought us all closer… Every precious day of learning together!

I have realized that,although professional development programs often speak to differentiated instruction, classroom management, technological growth, curriculum development, and standards creation, in the long haul, what fires an educator’s inner motor is to see that he or she has made a difference in a child’s life.

Connecting with students is satisfying and warms the heart.

After all,connecting with students is the reason most teachers teach, isn’t it?

MY suggested ways to make these teacher-student connection work?

Well…….After all these years of teaching experience, here’s my list.

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Don’t be “boring.”
This is foundational, I think…. Much disconnection starts here. And, weak communication is one root of “boring.”

 Capture their  attention.
As human beings, we are more attentive to that which is novel. One reason that some teachers-me included-  prefer to work with younger elementary students is that the world is still fresh to them.

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Making connections, in class…

 Motivate.

We all know that, if it is somewhat inconsistent with prior attitudes, it stimulates. If it stretches us too much, it will demotivate—we shut down. That is why a (sensitively) demanding  a teacher with high expectations, often gets good results.

Be caring

Where appropriate, the loving concern of a caring teacher, can strongly impact the resilience of a kid struggling to grow up.

Respect.
This one is not negotiable !No respect, equals no connection. Period. The kids say, “Respect us and let us respect you.” Connection will not happen if there is no perception of respect.

mosaic skype last3 Be reciprocal.
Do things together. Share common interests and concrete experiences.

 Create memories.

Memory matters. We should develop and encourage warm and positive memories of school time in our class!

 Spend time just chilling.
Listen. Be there for our students .The gift of time is an unparalleled treasure.

 Become a warm memory.
We may think that we don’t matter that much. We do. We cannot get out of the way. WE are the way. They are watching.

Last but not least: 

Be passionate

It can be a lot of hard work, and there can be moments when we just don’t necessarily have the energy.

I think that, rather than let ourselves get discouraged, we should try to think of it as a passion.

I also think that, if we have a fiery passion for what we’re teaching, it won’t be nearly as difficult to actually teach it !

Passion is something that most people have, but we don’t often channel it to whatever we are trying to do.

So……Let’s  Channel our passion!

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HERE’S MY FAREWELL VIDEO….THE HARD WORK ,OF AN AMAZING SCHOOL YEAR, IN PICTURES!

Dedicated to those beloved students! I  miss them already….

http://www.kizoa.com/Video-Editor-Movie-Maker/d54478978k1396134o1l1/happy-scholl-year-201516-memories

 

Off to knew challenges=new opportunities , next school year! Off to new adventures!

 

Interactive Grammar Notebooks -part a

Last year, was my first year to use interactive notebooks.  Before school began, I found myself  with the desire PLUS precious  direction, from my  amazing Greek colleague, Papadeli Sophia !

I have to thank her so much, for all the inspiration and support!

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Overall, they were a success- Experimenting on them during this first school year with few students, among whom was my daughter, was great fun!…I’m sure, we’ll do much better next  year ,with all my afternoon classes, at school!

As a girl-mom, I had to create some rationale for me to deal with the pain of teaching my “I-can’t-stand-grammar ” daughter. Yes, the pain is heartbreaking and real! Realizing this, I’ve come to the conclusion that my daughter and niece whom I both teach English at home, needed short, but potent grammar lessons where they’re able to explain, defend, and apply the skills.

I decided to use interactive notebooks to cater to and shape their learning experience a bit more.

Their  Interactive notebook,  helped keep their learning organized by having all concepts in the same place and in an sequence they could naturally follow.

This  notebook is built, by adding each grammar skill or concept as an insert gradually throughout the year as they are introduced to new material. By the end of year, they  have a complete notebook they can use as a reference and I can use as an assessment tool or portfolio piece.This is simple and can be done with any grammar curriculum we are using.

First, I used a common notebook,  school glue, scissors and markers/colored pencils. Since we are fully stocked on school supplies, I did not need to make any new purchases.

Then, ideally, we should reserve the first 1-2 pages for the table of contents. I admit that, I didn’t do that, this first year…Going forward, we add a new page for each skill.

The next step is to find some ideas or even printables and foldables for the Grammar notebooks …I asked Sophia Papadeli to help me get started and I also visited Pinterest and used my imagination and creativity, of course!

Here are just  few pages for you to have a look at, get inspired and hopefully, start your own Grammar Notebooks, next school year!

PAST SIMPLE
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WILL

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REFLEXIVE/EMPHATIC PRONOUNS

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PRESENT PERFECT

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ORDER OF ADVERBS

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ADVERBS OF FREQUENCY

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COMPARISON OF ADJECTIVES/ADVERBS

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PLURALS

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ARTICLES (A/AN)

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IRREGULAR PLURALS

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TO BE

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PERSONAL PRONOUNS

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THIS/THAT/THESE/THOSE

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THERE IS/ARE

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POSSESSIVES

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TOO/ENOUGH

 

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TYPES OF COMPARISON

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TOO MUCH/MANY

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ORDINAL NUMBERS

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IMPERATIVE

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HAVE/HAS GOT

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PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE/CONTINUOUS

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BE GOING TO

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PRESENT CONTINUOUS

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FUTURE CONTINUOUS

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PRESENT SIMPLE/CONTINUOUS

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PREPOSITIONS OF PLACE

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THE -ING FORM

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USED TO

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POSSESSIVES

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BOTH/NEITHER/NONE/ALL

 

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ADVERBS OF FREQUENCY

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PREPOSITIONS OF PLACE

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WORD ORDER

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BE GOING TO-hopscotch

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HOW MUCH/MANY

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SOME/ANY

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LIKE

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WORD ORDER-QUESTIONS

 

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PAST SIMPLE-IRREGULAR VERBS

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PRESENT CONTINUOUS

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PLURALS

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PRESENT PERFECT

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PRESENT CONTINOUS

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FORMATION OF ADVERBS

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ORDER OF ADJECTIVES

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ORDER OF ADVERBS

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PAST SIMPLE/CONTINUOUS

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Whether our  child or students, need the added application, more hands-on grammar, or just a splash of fun, interactive notebooks have the ability to enhance and advance their language arts skills. My daughter , still not all that intrigued about grammar, has found a way to accept it more with her notebook!

 

 

Vocabulary Hopscotch

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Today, I would like  to refer  to  the potential of HOPSCOTCH to engage students, as well as to facilitate the acquisition of factual knowledge (English vocabulary) and to improve the attitudes of students towards learning English as a second language. I can assure you that,   students remember and correctly spell about the same number of new vocabulary words after learning with HOPSCOTCH as they do after a teacher-centered lesson. Importantly however, they enjoy playing this  game very much and they report better attitudes towards studying English after learning vocabulary with HOPSCOTCH and games in general, compared to traditional teaching.

All that is required for this fun game is a few sight words -or anything else that we teach eg numbers- and sidewalk chalk or masking tape.

On rainy days, consider using masking tape on a floor and write each sight word on a piece of tape or index card – just make sure kids do not slip on the index card while playing the game.

Hopscotch activities I have found online and some of my own invention

INSTRUCTIONS:
What You Need:
chalk (multiple colors work best) for outdoor play
or use colored tape & bring the fun indoors
rock or bean bag
What To Do:
1. Using chalk make a hopscotch board.
2. In each square write target sight words, spelling words, letters, etc…
3. Child should throw rock or other item eg a bean bag,onto hopscotch board.
Whichever word the rock/bean bag lands in, is the word to be read.
4. Repeat until all words have been read/used, at least once.
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Different Ways to Play:
We play this a few different ways aside from the basic way listed above.
 Some rounds we read every word we hop on or
use the word in a sentence (this is especially useful for homophones)
Other times, we try to spell the target word after reading it.
Sometimes, we sing-spell the word she lands on to the tune of B-I-N-G-O.

Variations:

1. You can play with letters to help aid recognition
or practice letter sounds .
2. Use numbers to aid in number recognition.
3. Use colors to help with color recognition.
4. Play with spelling words.  Have child read word,
then look away and practice orally spelling the word.
5. Play with vocabulary words –
child tells you definition of word they land on.
6. Play with English words and mother tongue
For example, write color words like red
and child has to tell me word in mother tongue..
7. Spell hopscotch:Give each student a word to spell as she jumps through the boxes. If she spells the word wrong, she must repeat that word on her next turn. The first person to get through the entire board wins a point for her team.
8. Word hopscotch:Method: ƒ Draw a simple hopscotch outline on the floor with chalk or use tape. ƒ Children take turns to hop (walk or jump) from square to square ƒ On each square they say a word that they know. These may be words in general, or words associated with a particular topic or theme, counting etc. ƒ When they run out of words they must ‘give up’ Variation: ƒ Teacher puts pictures /flashcards of familiar objects on each square ƒ Children must name the objects as they hop onto the square More difficult: ƒ Children must say something about the object in the picture
9.I sometimes use the class vocabulary dice,too.
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Do you want to read more about how to play hopscotch? Here is goes…

One player goes first and begins by tossing his marker, e.g., a pebble or beanbag, into the first square. The marker must land in the square without touching the lines. If the marker does not land in the first square, his turn is over. If the marker lands in the first squares, he must hop over the first square and then continue hoping through the hopscotch pattern saying each sight word as he lands on that square. When he gets to the last square, he must turn around and hop back saying each sight word again. He must pick up his marker without touching the first square and then complete the course by hopping on it. If he successfully completed the course, he would proceed to the next square by tossing his stone to the second square and continue hopping as stated above. He must do this for each square.

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A player must hop on one foot on the single squares and straddle the double squares. If a player does not hop with the proper foot, hops on the lines or looses balance while picking up her marker, her turn is over. She would begin her next turn on that square. The first player to complete the course wins the game. For younger players, consider adding a neutral square, e.g., home and allow players to rest at the end of the course. While resting they can recite the alphabet.

– See more at: http://www.sightwordsgame.com/sightwordgames/hopscotch/#sthash.kZ8ypggS.dpuf

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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