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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…)

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.

The Star Festival: Teaching Tanabata in English

Part of the series: EFL Makeovers

July 7th is Tanabata, or the Star Festival, in Japan. Legend says that Orihime (a weaver, represented by the  star Vega) and Hikoboshi (a cowherd, represented by the star Altair)  are allowed to cross the Milky Way to meet each year on the seventh evening of the seventh month each year. Children often decorate bamboo branches with colorful origami decorations, and their wishes. (more…)

Animal Magic with Young Learners (by Leahn Stanhope)

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

I was initially very flattered when Barbara asked me to write a guest post, then my happy feeling turned to mild panic. Finally I just decided to write so here we are. This post is dedicated to one of my favourite ‘props’ for the young learner classroom which are SMALL PLASTIC ANIMALS. I like using a range of props which I keep in brightly coloured bags and clothes hampers. (more…)

A socializing game: Driver’s seat (by Anne Hodgson)

A few weeks ago I was teaching a group of personal and team assistants (PAs) I hadn’t met before how to assist international teams. This group didn’t need to go over critical incidents they’d had with foreign team members. Instead, they said their biggest challenge was making small talk with their visiting American team members. So that’s what we practiced.

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Digital Digits: Creative Ideas for Finger Plays (by Shelly Sanchez Terrell)

I teach students between the ages of two- and six-years-old. When you teach young learners you discover how much they love finger plays. The children memorize the English quickly and are able to repeat the words and actions on their own.

Introducing the Finger Play

Finger plays are best used in the classroom with the children watching you and modeling your actions. Try having the children sit in front of you or in a circle. We like to sit on pillows on the floor. You may also want to use a felt board to begin introducing the vocabulary. Put up the characters in the order they will appear in the finger play. Place the name above each character. For example, for the Incy Wincy Spider I put a spider, a water spout, the sun, and the rain. I have the children repeat the words. When possible I also vary the voices for each character. I want the children to visualize the characters in order for them to remember the words that go with that character. (more…)

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


“Flick a card.

Flick a card.

Start the game,

And let’s have fun!” (more…)

More Than Five Things to do with LEGO® in the EFL Classroom Part 2 (by Emma Herrod)

If you missed the first half of this article, start here.

Home Sweet Home

This lesson makes for a fun way of working with language to do with accommodation and living spaces, as the students work together to build a large model house.  The model is then referred to throughout subsequent lessons and forms a focus for discussion.  There are a number of instructions you can find on the internet for making LEGO houses.  Personally, I love this Apple Tree House http://creator.lego.com/en-us/buildinginstructions/default.aspx.  Don’t feel you have to stick rigorously to the instructions, colours and brick choices.  Work with what you have.   In this activity the class build a LEGO house – each group could build a section (such as the roof, garden etc) and then it all gets put together in the centre of the room.

  • This can then lead on to discussions of rooms, contents and the layouts of students’ own homes.  You could also try practising model verbs to talk about home safety. (more…)

More Than Five Things to do with LEGO® in the EFL Classroom Part 1 (by Emma Herrod)

Firstly, I’d like to put this post into some sort of context.  In 2002, I landed a dream job (at the time) working at the LEGO Company.  The next five years were so much fun and those little coloured bricks became part of my everyday life.  Now I feel I need to give the studded plastic something back and perhaps offer them another raison d’etre.  At the LEGO Company, when I attended any kind of meeting, there was, 99% of the time, a bowl of LEGO bricks on the table. They weren’t just decoration – they were to be fiddled with – and I defy anyone not to feel the tension drop in their shoulders and the inner child not to emerge when given the green light to tinker with those little blocks of primary-coloured plastic during a business meeting.  ‘LEGO’ by the way is not a typo, but brand requirement in any written reference to the toy and yes, I was brainwashed by a zealous marketing department.

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Music and Movement for Young English Learners (by Kathleen Kampa and Charles Vilina)

Matt Richelson makes some excellent points about the power of music in the EFL classroom in his recent article, “Teaching Young Learners With Songs.”  I use music and movement daily with young learners in the English classroom. Let me add a few more suggestions that can assist you in using these powerful tools to teach English to your students.

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