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Activities

games, parties, activities, makeovers of traditional games

EFL Teacher’s Kit for Surviving Kids (by Shelly Sanchez Terrell)

When I first began teaching very young English language learners in Germany, I went a bit insane! Kids climbed the walls literally and flew the paper airplanes I had actually thought would be a creative lesson plan. With 14 children running around and yelling, “Shelly Belly” I nearly quit.  At least they were using English, right? My extensive years of teaching had been to English speaking children who were much older and to English language learners who were in their teenage or college years.  I did a lot of research, because I love a challenge. The tips I learned are included in the Glogster below, which you can click and explore! (more…)

The Halloween party that almost wasn’t

I love parties.

However, I’ve been traveling for workshops a lot for the past six months, and have had to cancel quite a few classes. During the last week of September and the first 2 weeks of October alone, I was home for 6 days. So, I thought parents might actually prefer that I let Halloween pass without notice this year, and get back to the business of having regular English class. (more…)

Tell a story! (By Christina Markoulaki)

Here I am, back from a short-term holiday and ready for my summer lessons! It is customary in Greece for the winter courses in private language institutions to end around May; towards the end of June schools resume preparations to welcome those students who are willing to finish one more English-language class by taking an accelarated course in the summer months. The point is that the Greek weather is rather an impediment to studying since it is invariably scorching hot and sunny, calling for some soothingly cool sea bathing rather than having language lessons! Therefore, the question that immediately troubled me was: what can a teacher do to help these students start learning on a positive note?

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Six Word Stories

Recently, I participated in a fabulous digital storytelling workshop through TESOL Electronic Village Online. One of the activities that caught my eye during the workshop was Six Word Stories. The process is simple: Students choose a picture and tell a story in six words. (more…)

Cat and Mouse: Reinvention of a Traditional Game (by Marco Brazil)

In the US, they call it Duck Duck Goose.  In Bulgaria they call it Pesek, while in Ghana they call it Antokyire.  Children across the globe call it many different names, and in the Philippines we call it Iring-IringIring is a Bisaya (Filipino vernacular) word for cat. (more…)

Meeting Challenges in the EFL Classroom/ Part 1: Read-aloud activities (by Christina Markoulaki)

Branko M., Assistant Professor of American Literature of the English Department (Faculty of Humanities in Serbia),  has been so kind as to give me the opportunity to present in a webinar some of the challenges teachers worldwide need to face if they wish their teaching to result in efficient learning on the students’ part. Although I feel fortunate to have been trusted with students of all ages and levels, the difficulties posed on the way have been numerous, also allowing me to take delight in their resolution. (more…)

Witches, Ninjas, Fairies, Princesses, and Super Heroes

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

It’s Halloween, and time for another class party!

These were my students’ costumes for our Halloween party this year. Considering that dressing up wasn’t mentioned, I was impressed that they made such an effort to come in character! (more…)

The Auction (by Marco Brazil)

Part of the series: EFL Makeovers

Have you ever been to an auction sale before? An auction is defined as a type of sale where the price of an item is negotiated through the process of competitive and open bidding. It is normally a public sale at which items are sold to the person offering to pay the highest price. (more…)

Getting the most out of Power Point (by David Dodgson)

It’s easy these days to get carried away with all the talk about advances in educational technology and what the latest, coolest web-based resource is. The truth for many teachers and students around the world is that they are lucky to have one computer and a projector in class and even luckier to have internet access, which even then is highly likely to be filtered. This is the case in my school: each class has a “teacher’s” computer with projector and, at best, unreliable internet. Therefore, the most commonly used tool in class is PowerPoint. Even then, many teachers dislike it as they feel ‘chained to the computer’ so how can we make sure it’s used effectively?

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PALAYOK: Reinvention of a Traditional Game for EFL Classrooms (by Marco Brazil)

Cultural Background

Ask any Filipinos about Pukpuk Palayok or Hampas Palayok, and chances are they played it or saw it played at least once during their childhoods. The game is so immensely popular that any celebration or town fiesta is not complete without children (oh yes, sometimes adults) playing it. Having been colonized by the Spaniards for three hundred and thirty three years, Pukpuk Palayok is the Filipino version of Piñata, and just like the fiesta, Spaniards used the game to attract natives to their ceremonies and convert them to their religion. The Filipinos, known for reinventing things to suit their needs out of limited resources, adapted it by using a clay pot instead of the Mexican painted paper Piñata. In those times paper and paints were scarce and expensive, whereas clay pots were plentiful and cheap.

In the Philippines, pupok means to hit, and palayok is a clay pot, so the game literally means to hit a pot. Traditionally, the game is played with the decorated clay pot filled with goodies (candies, sweets, coins, and sometimes peso bills), suspended by string in the air, high enough for players to reach it. A long bamboo stick is used to hit and break the pot, so that players as well as by-standers can grab as many goodies as they can. The player who breaks the pot wins a prize, usually in currency.

Pukpok Palayok: Reinvented for EFL classrooms

For EFL classrooms, Pukpok Palayok uses no clay pot, nor a bamboo stick. Instead, the game makes use of the white board, picture cards (with magnets attached at the back), and an oversize hat (my children hate to be blindfolded with a handkerchief). In this adaptation, hitting is not permitted; children make use of their sense of directions, understanding of the commands given, and using their hands to feel for the targets. In my experience, the game works wonderfully for preschoolers, for teaching the alphabet, colors, shapes, fruits and vegetables. While, for elementary graders, it works very well for foods, practicing specific target language (“I’m hungry! What do you want? I want a hamburger. Go find it!” or “Where are you going? I’m going to the supermarket. Go find it”).  In addition to the target language, this is a great way to reinforce language for giving directions like; go straight, to your left, to your right, stop, that’s it, etc.

Target Language Examples

S1: I’m hungry!

Class : What do you want?

S1 : I want (hamburgers).

Class: Go find it!

***

Class: What’s for (lunch)?

S2: (Spaghetti) is for lunch.

***

Class : Where are you going?

S3 : I’m going to the (park).

***

Class: How are you going there?

S3 : I’m (riding a bicycle).

Class: Have fun!

Players

Two (2) or more (the more the merrier!)

Materials

picture cards

board

some magnets

a party hat (oversize) or blindfold

How to play

  1. Determine the order of play.
  2. In random, attach all the picture cards on the board.
  3. Instruct the players to remember the placement of each card.
  4. The first player takes his turn. He stands 12 steps (more is better) away from the board. The other players ask the question; for example, “What do you want? The first player answers “I want (a hamburger).” The other players answer back “Go, find it!”
  5. The first player puts on the over size hat (covering his or her face), and turns around three times.
  6. The other players give directions, starting with “Go straight!” “To your right!” “To your left!” etc. The aim is for the player to find the target by following directions given by other players.

Note : For large number of players, for example twenty (20) , it is best to group them into four (4) teams of five members each. One player will have to be blindfolded, while the other four members give the directions to find the target picture card.

Marco Brazil has been training teachers and teaching children English for over fifteen years. He maintains strong a strong commitment to making English fun and easy for both teachers and learners. He occasionally writes articles and gives teaching presentations for Oxford Kid’s Club Teaching Tour mostly, on games (You can see handouts from his workshops here and here).  Marco is the director/owner of SmartKids Circle. You can find Marco on Facebook or follow him on his blog, Mabuhay Classroom.