“As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen.” – Winnie The Pooh
One of my favorite activities I like to have the teachers I train do is go into a play area and watch very young kids learn without the parameters of a school. When you observe kids playing with other kids they are exploring their curiosities and discovering ways to make sense of their world. At the same time they are motivated and engaged because they have the freedom to explore hands-on and no one is telling them they shouldn’t or can’t. My friend Graeme Hodgson created a video of his children playing as part of this exercise. You can observe what I am describing, then compare with your own observation. Unfortunately, when kids go to school they end up mostly sitting in their desks for the majority of the class period. As teachers we can ensure they get to explore, move, and achieve their learning objectives. Below are a few ideas, reasons why, and resources to get you started.
Here a few ideas to get your students moving:
- Take a lesson outside- Make it a hands-on adventure where students are paired or grouped and allowed to explore within a confined and chaperoned space for a few minutes. Then have them gather back as a group and show their findings to the rest of the class.
- Have students play a game- students can play various games like Simon Says and the musical chairs to get them moving. Here is a list of several classroom games including jump rope chants.
- Get them to jump rope and speak English.
- Get them to do Total Physical Response tasks with chants.
- Sit on pillows on the floor for your next discussion or take the discussion outside.
- Take a class field trip and get students to create videos where they find specific information and report it live. They can use digital cameras, their cell phones, or an app like Talking Tom and Ben Newsreporter.
- Play an icebreaker game that gets them walking around the classroom and moving. Here are a list of warmers and fillers we have collected and another resource of 1000s of icebreakers.
- Get students to do stretches or yoga and when they use part of the body they can name what they are doing.
- Take in a game console for a day or once a week as a treat- a Wii, Playstation or other game console will have your learners using English to play interactive games. They can play guitar hero, Wii sports, Dance! Dance! Revolution, singing games and so much more. These resources will give you some ideas.
- Try integrating a mobile device and do things like host scavenger hunts. Specific ideas are included in this post.
- Set-up a scavenger hunt. Do this easily through the SCVNGR hunt app for Android and iPhone where students win prizes for going places, completing tasks and checking in.
- Set-up tasks in a class calendar that students aim to complete- This could include visiting the local library, finding a sign in English, and more. These are tasks that students complete outside of school and for points. By the end of each month, the students can exchange their points for small prizes like stamps, stickers, badges, cool erasers or whatever else you can imagine. Sharon Hartle includes a PowerPoint advent calendar here that you can edit and customize. Use this template to create a calendar in PowerPoint or this post by Kelly Tenkely will help you create one through Glogster or Wix.
- Set-up a karaoke or dance day! Greta Sandler does this with her English learners in Argentina and they look forward to every Friday when they can sing.
When your students are active physically while learning they:
- get more physical activity, which promotes physical and mental well-being
- are using up their natural energy which makes managing classroom behavior easier
- release endorphins that get them thinking creatively and feeling good
- look forward to your classes
- discover that learning is all around them
- store more in their long-term memory, which is often seen in Total Physical Response activities
What ways do you get your learners moving and learning English?
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Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, author, and international speaker. She is the host of American TESOL’s Free Friday Webinars and the Social Media Community Manager for The Consultants-E. She has co-founded and organized the acclaimed educational projects, Edchat, the ELTON nominated ELTChat, The Reform Symposium E-Conference and the ELTON nominated Virtual Round Table language and technology conference. Visit her award winning blog, Teacher Reboot Camp, for resources for effective technology integration. Keep an eye out for her book, The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators published by Eye on Education. She has taught toddlers to adults English in various countries including the US, Germany, and Greece and currently travels around the world training teachers. Website: http://teacherbootcamp.edublogs.org/ Twitter: @ShellTerrell