Basic language learning activities
There are many fun and instructive activities for children that can be used to develop basic language skills and teach them to be attentive.
Small children need to move a lot and lively activities with a specific learning goal are a healthy and fun way to keep them in motion under a teacher's guidance.
Learning to cool down and focus on a task that requires attention is also an important switch and essential for their development in the preceding learning stages.
Roll the ball:
Time: 5 minutes
Language aims: question and answer
Other aims: motor skills, eye-hand co-ordination
Description: children by rolling a ball to each other, ask and answer questions.
Materials: A small ball (such as a tennis ball).
Preparation: Choose which question and answers you want to practice. Spend one or two minutes teaching and exercising.
1. Children sit down in a circle.
2. Roll the ball to one of the kids and ask a question that you'd like to exercise (for example: questions starting with 'Wh' in English . 'What's your name? What color is the ball ?...' etc.
3. Let them reply the question and roll the ball to another one
4. Encourage them to start a conversation together: example: The one who rolls the ball asks a question, the one that holds the ball replies the question etc.
7. When one of them answers,let him roll the ball and ask a new(or same) question etc.
This might seem a bit laborious but once the children get the idea they will see it as a game and have fun while learning.
Older children can throw and catch a ball instead of rolling the ball!
Pass the ball:
Time: 5-10 minutes
Language aims: whatever language you want to practice.
For example: children could practice saying:
My name is ... Or I'm four years old, colors, names of the animals or instruct them using imperative verbs such as 'Run around the circle' or Touch your toes...' etc.
Other aims: use music and movement to language
Description: The children pass a ball while the music is playing. When music stops, they practice the target language.
Materials: A music player, some lively music, a small ball.
1. Children sit in a circle
2. Pass the ball to each other while the music is playing
3. When the music stops they also stop and you can start a conversation with the child holding the ball such as: ' My name's Pedro , what is your name? '
4. Encourage the chat by thanking.
5. Repeat the activity
If you have a large class, only few children will get a chance to rehearse but they also do so mentally in case they would be holding the ball.
The excitement of the game will involve them all.
Variation: Put pictures to words using cards in a box or a bag. They pass this round while the music is playing. When the music stops, they take out a picture and say what it is.
Time: 5-10 minutes
Language aims: follow instructions, practice vocabulary, introduce a useful chapter in learning a language
Description: The teacher defines and children try to find the correct picture.
Materials: Pictures of vocabulary items you want to practice.
Preparation: Cut out or draw large pictures of the vocabulary you want to practice and stick these on the wall.
1. Walk to the first picture and teach the word then let them repeat.
2. Do the same with other pictures.
3. You can instruct by calling one of the children :
Calling : 'Andreas, come here, please '
When Andreas arrives you can mime or instruct 'Go to the bus '.
If he performs the right way show your appreciation by exclamations and thanking 'Well done! Great! Thanks you!'
If he is not sure, Help him by giving hints, mimicking and of course you can hold his hand and take him to the bus.
4. Repeat the procedure with other children.
Older children may like a competitive element. You could call out two children and give them both an instruction, for example: Andreas, go and find a bus and Mohammed, go and find a plane. The first one to get there is the winner.
Time: 5-10 minutes
Language aims: to follow instructions, to revise vocabulary
Description: The children listen to instructions and fetch the correct item.
Materials: Some objects or pictures of vocabulary you have already introduced in a previous lesson.
1. Show the children the objects or pictures and practice the vocabulary.
2. Spread the things and pictures on the floor.
3. Call out one of the children and request them to do some tasks according to your instruct :
'Marta~ could you fetch me a rabbit~ please?' If she has difficulty understanding, go with her to pick up the rabbit image and then let her to fetch it for you.
4. Continue in the same way, getting different children fetch things.
1 Place objects or pictures in different places around the room before the children come in.
2 Get the children go and fetch pictures and objects according to your instructions.
Time: 5-10 minutes
Aims: Language: follow instructions, practice vocabulary.
Description: Children find and point at the correct picture.
Materials: Images of the vocabulary you will practice
1. Show the children the pictures and teach or revise the words then stick the pictures on a board.
2. Then ask them who can point at a tree image on the board. Help them when they have difficulty by giving hints or by pointing at the correct image.
3. Rearrange the images and repeat the exercise.
Drawing on the board:
Time: 5-10 minutes
Aims: Language: practicing names of the body
Description: Children draw on the board following the teacher's instructions.
Materials: Board and chalk or board-pen.
1. Draw a head , body together with children.
2. Everyone adds something to the image.
3. Invite different children to add different features until the drawing is completed.
Children love being allowed to draw on the board using the teacher's chalk or board-pen.
Variation: draw on a sheet of paper at the same time and pass on their drawings, and combine them to a body by naming the parts.
Time: 5 minutes
Aims: Language: listening, following instructions, parts of the body, classroom vocabulary
Description: The children listen and carry out the instructions only when 'Simon' tells them to'
1. Explain to the class that you are going to give them a set of instructions but they must only apply when you say 'Simon says'.
(You can change this to fit any current popular characters such as 'Robocop says!')
2. Explain the instructions by performing these yourself at first:
Simon says touch your nose.
Simon says touch the fioor.
Simon says stand on one leg.
Then let them apply the same
Be sure they touch the nose when you say ' Simon says Touch your nose' only and not when you'd say ' Touch your nose' just!
3. If you have a child who is very confident and speaks well, you could let her/him give some of the instructions.
These activities encourage the children to put their attention on a task, work quietly and independently, develop cognitive skills and visual recognition, prepare them to Primary School.
Age: 4, 5
Time: 5-10 minutes
Language Aims: learn to follow instructions, practice vocabulary
Other aims: visual recognition
Description: Children select an object in a picture following the teacher's instructions.
Preparation: Draw some objects on a sheet of paper. Make one copy for each child. And introduce names od basic geometrical figures.
1. Draw some animals on the board, for example: a snake, a sheep, a bird, a cat.
2. You can then tell the class 'Let's draw a circle around the cat , a triangle around the bird, a square around the dog etc. '
3. Ask the class who would like to draw shapes around the animals.
4. Invite different children to draw different shapes.
5. Hand out worksheets and tell the children to draw a circle around the fish and continue by coloring
With older children you can say, for example, Color the snake in green, Color the bird in brown, and so on.
Activities for language learning
Warmers & Finishers
Information about warmers & finishers:
Warmers are often class activities with the children focused on the teacher, the board, or flashcards.
They may be simple activities, games which need minor explanation, they are short, easy and usually familiar to the children.
This means that all the children can perform the activity easily and start the lesson on a positive note.
Warmers help the children make a transition from their previous classes to the English class, allow them to make use of their knowledge skills, create connections between one class to the next one and usually by recalling they can add previous learnings to actual the topic of the lesson. They can also be a useful informal assessment instruments for the teacher to measure the level of the children and modify the lesson if necessary .
Finishers mark the end of the lesson: they may well draw the threads of the lesson together, often by using a different context or medium which allows the children to transfer their learnings. Finishers do not introduce anything new but consolidate the material that has already been covered. It is essential to review learnings at the end of a lesson and this can be done by asking questions that can reflect on the 'how's rather than the 'what's of a lesson.
It is more difficult to define activities suitable for finishers. You may wish to end your class quietly and thoughtfully in which case a finisher will probably be a written activity done individually which requires the children to apply what they have been learning in some way or you may feel that the children have been working intensely and need something that enables them to let off steam, so you can finish with a whole class activity like a game or a song. Like warmers. A finisher can allow a teacher to asses how much of the material covered has been absorbed and what needs to be revised and recycled.
Some ideas for warmers:
Find the pair:
Stick some flashcards in a row on the board and some word cards in a row underneath them. Number each card. Ask a child to name two numbers and turn the corresponding card over. If they match, the child keeps them and gets another turn. If they don't another child can call out two more numbers.
The numbers dance:
Prepare flashcards using the numbers from zero to nine so that each child in the class gets one / or a set.
Set a lively music and let them move/ dance and form groups of 2(easier)
when the music stops Let them show their numbers and name them.
As an advanced exercises they can combine two numbers and name the numbers of tenths (group of 2) , hundredths (group of 3), order the numbers etc.
Some ideas for finishers:
Conduct a chant:
Teach the children these gestures: hands together for slow. hands apart for fast, hands down for quiet and hands up for loud. Ask for a volunteer to conduct a chant that the class already knows.
Prepare a worksheet with a mixture of words (pictures of words) on it - they can be about different topics and be performed by different age groups: You can use the exercise to practice adjectives, nouns, verbs etc. Challenge the children to categorize groups by using different shapes, colors .