Four Skills and Five Senses (by Anna Musielak)

Blog of the month
Two weeks ago the director of my school announced that the teachers should organize a “family” lesson. Kids could bring their parents, grandparents and relatives to accompany them on the lesson to observe how their little ones learn and interact. I have to admit – I was a bit worried and well… stressed out. I’ve organized shows and performances for parents and families and I’ve had teacher-parents meetings. But I couldn’t imagine how to have a lesson with parents and relatives observing pupils (who would definitely be stressed) and watching (and probably silently judging) me of course….I decided not to overthink it and as I didn’t have a lot of time to “prep” my pupils just do what I normally do hoping it would go well.
Stressed out Anna

very stressed out me

The topic of our lesson was five senses, which is a very pleasant theme and kids like it. We started by arranging the chairs for the families – I have 8 students – this time there were about 20 people in my small classroom. After the parents and relatives settled (at the back so that kids weren’t too distracted) we started the lesson as we normally do – by distributing gold nuggets. It is a very simple but nice idea – pupils get three gold nuggets and if they work “properly”, participate actively and do the assigned tasks, they keep the gold. If they misbehave or aren’t prepared, they lose the nuggets. Those students who keep all three pieces of gold get a sticker at the end of the class – most of the time all of them are rewarded. 🙂

The next stage of the lesson was a ball revision – as I teach very lively 10-year olds I always ask them to stand up and form a circle and I throw the ball to them asking basic questions revising the material studied (we start with How are you? and move on to more complicated structures e.g. What smells sweet? What do we use to hear?) . If a student doesn’t know the answer they throw the ball to the person who does. Those revisions usually last up to ten minutes and students really enjoy them. I encourage them to step into my shoes and ask questions as well.

After the revision I always check their homework  – they are allowed to “forget” homework from time to time but I keep score. As my kids love football we use a yellow/red card system – two yellow cards and a red card – which means notifying the parents via an online diary.
We started practising the senses vocabulary by using animals  – kids had to pick an animal and decide what it can hear, smell, touch, taste and see. Some answers were very funny as kids decided that mosquitoes are just like vampires – they taste blood.  Or that an octopus tastes shells (the explanation was that shells are just like crisps). Others decided to use fictional characters (Gruffallo is always a big hit with them).  I checked their writing and asked them to swap the texts with their friends. Some braver students wanted to share their ideas with the whole class so they read the texts aloud.
student work

Some of the ideas

The next part of the lesson was listening and reading. We went over a short text about senses which I read aloud, and to activate my students I asked them to stand up every time they heard verbs connected with their senses (so when they heard see, hear, smell, taste and touch they had to stand up). It was a lot of fun and kids were racing to be the first one to get on their feet.

Next, it was their turn to read the text and I used an interesting idea I found in Pinterest, which I love and think is full of useful activities and teaching tips. (Pinterest basically works as a pinboard where people share and organize the things they love.) I prepared Action Reading Cards which I cut out and laminated. On each card there is a different action or manner in which my students have to read  – e.g. use your most scary monster voice, do a little hula dance while you read, read as if you are chanting on a football stadium, do jumping jacks. Kids love them as they never know which card they will get. Of course I don’t make them read long pieces of text – just 2-3 short sentences and I usually join them (and let them decide how I have to read). After they read their sentences we highlighted the verbs connected with senses (expanding their vocabulary by adding items such as it looks, it feels, it sounds…) as well as adverbs and adjectives.

reading cards

Reading Cards

The next stage was to practice those new words.  I shouted out commands – find something that looks pretty, find something that feels smooth, find something that smells fresh and asked kids to move around the classroom and stand next to the object/person. Then I asked one student to take on the role of a teacher and shout commands.
We finished the lesson by assigning homework and distributing stickers. All in all, I think I managed to show the parents that lessons do not need to be boring and that kids learn actively and are motivated to do the assigned tasks. My pupils were also able to show their parents how much they already know and that made their families proud.
Note: This article by Anna Musielak originally appeared as a guest post on Teaching Village, and is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Non Commercial, No Derivatives 3.0 License. If you wish to share it you must re-publish it “as is”, and retain any credits, acknowledgements, and hyperlinks within it.

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18 Responses

  1. Barbara says:

    I am totally going to steal your ideas! These are brilliant, Ania! I can just picture my students describing animals with senses–they’ll love it.

    This is a wonderful model of how easy it is to include all four skills PLUS critical thinking in a lesson.

    Thanks for sharing it with us 🙂

  2. Anna Musielak says:

    Dear Barbara:) I’m glad you like the ideas. And I have to admit – we had lots of fun on the lesson 🙂

  3. mohamed says:

    I liked the idea of gold nuggets

  4. Noreen L says:

    Hi Anna,
    Sounds great! I’m actually considering holding a performance for the end of the year (in two weeks!) for my group of 5-6 year olds. Thinking of doing some songs and acting that they have enjoyed for the parents to see, maybe about 15 mins at the end of the year party….any suggestions for organising kids for “rehearsals” and the actual performance? This will be my first time conducting! 🙂

  5. Ben says:

    I must say, I loved the way you handle the children, the nuggets and stickers is a very good way of teaching them the Carrot and stick method, It looks from your writing that the lesson was a success, I love this kind of approach that understands that children are children.
    Good hopes there will be many teachers like you in the world!!!

    • Anna Musielaka says:

      Mohamed – thank you:)

      Noreen – I think that songs, especially the ones with movement and mimes and done in groups are a great idea for the performance:) Kids feel less stressed when they can work in groups and the gestures help them remember the lyrics:) And as for rehersals – the last 5-10 minutes of the lesson?

      Ben thank you so much for your kind words:) Yes, I think the key to teaching kids is to act like them;) Learned that with my daughter:)

  6. Ann Foreman says:

    Hi Barbara and Anna,

    Thought that teachers on the TeachingEnglish facebook page would find this really helpful so I’ve just posted a link it there if you’d like to check for comments.

    Please feel free to post on the page whenever you have anything you’d like to share.



    • Barbara says:

      Thank you, Ann, and thanks for the reminder to share posts on the Teaching English facebook page. I’ll try to do better 🙂

  7. malika says:

    dear Ann The ideas you shared with us are great but can t be adapted in a class of about 30 students which is the case of my class anyway thankss for all

    • Anna Musielak says:

      Malika – on the contrary! Most of those ideas can be used with large classes:) I know because I tested some of them on workshops that I ran for teachers (about 40-50 participants:)) The activities just need a bit of tweaking:)

  8. Lubna.N says:

    Hai Anna
    I salute you for taking a lesson in such an interesting way.It was really a Himalayan task, but you made it simple with your creativity.To satisfy parents is not easy. You are really an inspiring teacher.The way you collaborate the skills and senses attracted me more.Expect more innovative ideas for classroom teaching.Thank you

  9. Zorana says:

    Hi Anna!
    I really must admit that this lesson plan is great,while I was reading this I enjoyed it as well.I like your ideas especially ‘gold nuggets’ and ‘ball revision’,and I’m gonna steal it.It would be harder to do this with 25-30 students in the class,but separately ‘yes’-of course.Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Wish you all best!

  10. Seray Tanyer says:

    I like both the sequence and found the activities really attractive and enjoyable. Thank you for your promotive ideas.

  11. Iwona says:

    Hi Ann,
    thanks for sharing your ideas;). I’m going to adopt them for my preschoolers.

  12. chalasani sudheer says:

    Anna Musielak. the novel idea is very interesting.

  13. Evelina says:

    Great and fresh ideas to the lesson! Thanks for sharing your brilliant ideas!

  1. June 27, 2013

    […] Two weeks ago the director of my school announced that the teachers should organize a “family” lesson. Kids could bring their parents, grandparents and relatives to accompany them on th…  […]