“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and the job’s a game.”
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and the job’s a game.”
Halloween is around the corner! It’s a great chance to have fun and be creative with ESL young students. Kids love it and many adults want to join in the fun too! The main focus should be to engage the imagination of your students and encourage them to have a blast while practicing their English skills.
Halloween is less than 2 weeks away and there are many activities I’d like to try with my younger students…
Let’s get ready for spooktacular Halloween lessons!
Here are some Halloween themed games I found on busyteacher.org. I haven’t tried any of them yet but I soon will to get my students in the spooky mood!
Your students will have practice using descriptive words as well as learning Halloween vocabulary with this simple game. Simply give one student a card with a Halloween picture on it. (You can get plenty of Halloween pictures online. Try to include the following in your set: jack-o-lantern, black cat, candy, pumpkin, ghost, spider, spider web, monster, trick or treaters, witch, broomstick, haunted house, bats, ghost, Dracula, Frankenstein, and candy corn.) Then give that student one to two minutes to describe their picture to the class. The goal is to get the class to guess the object without telling them what it is. The class member who first guesses the object correctly gets a point. Play until everyone has had a chance to describe an object, and the students with the most points wins.
This sensory game will get some spooky items into the hands of your students and is a good review of touch-themed adjectives. To play, save up some old tissue boxes – square boxes with plastic around an opening in the top work well. Your students will be putting their hands in the box to feel the spooky items but should not be able to see what is inside. Label each box with a creepy title and put one of the following items inside: cold pasta (zombie brains), wet grapes (Cyclops eyes), a mixture of cornstarch and water (ghost goo), dried apricots (Frankenstein ears), pipe cleaners (tarantula legs), baby carrots wrapped in gauze (mummy toes), etc. Each student takes a turn coming to the front of the class and feeling what is in one of the boxes. He or she must then describe how it feels to the class using the appropriate adjectives or figurative language. If you like, follow up the activity by having students reach into each box and write a short description of how each item feels.
This simple game is good for reviewing present tenses and vocabulary associated with careers, animals, monsters or other areas which inspire typical Halloween costumes. Gather several pictures of kids in costume (try parenting magazines that often suggest how to make costumes for kids or look online), laminate them if possible, and put the pictures into a pile. One at a time, have students draw a picture and say what the child in the picture is dressed up as. If your student gets it right, ask him how he knows? The student should then give two or three clues that helped him decide. For example, if a student picks a picture of a pirate, his clues might include the following: he has a parrot on his shoulder; he is standing by a boat; he has a hook instead of a hand.
This Halloween spin on bingo tests your students’ listening skills as well as how successfully your students can remember vocabulary associated with the holiday.Give each students a blank bingo board, and have him draw a picture of a Halloween item in each empty box. (You will probably need to review the vocabulary before you start playing. See activity number one for some Halloween words.) Then play each round as you would normally play bingo, but call out the words that match your students’ pictures rather than numbers. Students will then have to listen for the word you call and then match that word with one of the pictures on their board (if they have it there). If a student has an item on his board, he marks it. The first person with five in a row wins.
Charades is always a good game to get ESL students speaking boldly. You can make this active competition Halloween specific by using charades that Halloween items might perform. Your list might include the following.
Play in teams and see which team can get the most correct guesses from their classmates’ pantomimes.
If your students aren’t the type to get up and moving in front of the class, you can use the clues from Halloween charades to play Halloween Pictionary. Simply divide your class into two teams and have one student from each team come to the front of the room. Show them a Halloween word or phrase and watch students race to draw a picture for their team. The first team to call out the right answer gets a point. Once everyone has had a chance to draw, the team with the most points wins.
This group activity will give your students a chance to practice using modal verbswhile thinking of some scary situations. Give groups of about four or five students a Halloween themed situation: Frankenstein is chasing you. Dracula asks you out on a date. A big spider tries to share your lunch. Someone plays a practical joke on you. Then have the groups discuss what they could, should or might do if they were in that situation. After a few minutes of discussion, ask each group to share their best recommendation with the class.
Get your students to think creatively with some scary story starters and Halloween transitions fit for a spooky tale. Prepare a deck of index cards with some story starters and transitions that your students can use to start or continue a ghost story. Then turn off the lights and sit your class in a circle. Give a flashlight to one person and have her draw a card from the deck of story starters. For three to five minutes, she should tell the spooky story to the rest of the class, and if she likes, include scary lighting (shining the flashlight under your chin) and spooky noises. When her time is up, she passes the flashlight to the next person in the circle and he draws a transition card. (All of a sudden, bats fly… Out of nowhere… You hear a scream and …)He then continues the same story for three to five minutes. Take turns around the circle until everyone has had a chance to add to the tale.
This game will test your students’ memories as well as their knowledge of Halloween vocabulary. Put together a tray with several (aim for twenty) Halloween themed items. (You might include a rubber bat, spider ring, candy corn, jack-o-lantern, mask, etc.). Show the tray to your class and review any vocabulary as necessary. Then cover the tray and challenge your students to remember as many items as they can. After 3-5 minutes, see how many items each person was able to remember and spell correctly. For subsequent rounds, you can place five or six items on the tray, show your students, have them close their eyes, remove one item and challenge them to remember which item is missing.
This game will test your students’ general vocabulary knowledge along with theircreativity. Start one round by projecting a scary picture in the front of the room. The more that is in the picture the better. Then students have five minutes to try and identify an item in the picture that starts with each letter from a to z. After five minutes, stop and see who came up with the most words and review any new vocabulary with your class. Play three rounds with three different pictures and add each student’s score for each round. At the end of the game, the student with the most points wins the game.
Using playdough with young children is beneficial in many ways. It’s fun and popular and it can provide valuable hands-on learning experiences to support your young student’s growth.
I’m testing this super-simple and quick playdough recipe my friend Fab gave me. It requires no cooking and can be made by kids.
2 cups of flour
1 cup of salt
1 cup of water
Easy for children, Add more water for finger paint o glue.
Store in an airtight container, in a refrigerator.
Good result. It took about 5 minutes to make it. Not sticky and ready for use immediately.
I had never made playdough before and found this recipe quick and simple. I actually added less water than what was recommended.
Now I want to check how long it stays soft stored in the frigge.
Will be adding food coloring and some glitter next time. I found recipes for scented homemade playdough with peppermint, cinnamon or almond extract; the possibilities are endless!
Crafts have been around since the beginning of time when people made everything they used with their hands. Crafts were initially created for trading, selling, spiritual or artistic expression, as well as creating personal and household articles.
Today, crafts are a great pastime and educational tool for kids. It can not only keep the kids entertained on a rainy day, but also extend a child’s fine motor skills, develop concepts like colour or numbers and see scientific processes like gluing and paint drying in action.
Craft allows kids to explore ideas or concepts and then express it by making something to keep, entertain others with or simply look at for visual pleasure.
At this age, craft is more about passing the time when it’s too rainy to go to the park, but it’s a great way to engage your pre-schooler, toddler or baby in ideas that provide foundation for future learning.
Benefits can include:
Art and craft ideas encourage children to use their imagination to create their own entertainment. Making something on their own endows them with a confidence in their abilities to make individual decisions and choices.
Music – learning to play an instrument can be a great hobby to introduce to kids.
Creative writing – writing stories as a hobby is a great way for children to enhance their literacy skills and use their imagination. They can turn their stories into drawings and make their own books.
Storytelling – the oldest art form in the world is to tell stories orally, and it lies at the heart of the way we think and make sense of our world. Stories could include real and fiction events.
Debating – this will give your child the ability to present an argument persuasively, to understand that there are two sides to most arguments and the confidence to speak in front of a room full of people, to name but a few skills.
Never force kids to complete a project they simply aren’t interested in – all you will do is alienate them from ever trying craft again. Simply encourage them and reward them when they do finish something. Here are some of the pitfalls of craft:
It’s easy to overestimate your own ability (and your child’s) when you see something you like in a picture, but there’s nothing more discouraging than getting part-way through a project and finding you don’t have to skills to complete it. Determine how much you and your child can actually do.
If you’re learning a craft for the first time, start with something extra-simple to get the feel of the tools, materials, and techniques. Practice the techniques on something that doesn’t count first before actually beginning a project. If the project is relatively easy, your child will gain confidence and quickly want to try something more challenging.
You need time to do things right, and that’s true of any activity, no matter how seemingly uncomplicated it is. Give yourself and your child time — to think, to enjoy what you’re doing, to be creative, to experiment, and to enjoy each other.
So if they can be taught something using crafts it is likely they will learn it easily and without complaining. Crafts can be used as a tool to teach subjects like alphabets, numbers and colours to students of any age. Younger children can be taught basic lessons like colours and numbers. Crafts can be used to expand textbook lessons of older students by helping them to figure out how to express ideas and concepts visually.
Being inside the box
–warm and cosy.
We curled up
with cushions of routine,
wadded with words,
blanketed by books,
swaddled in certainties.
A bit stuffy perhaps,
and we sometimes felt cramped,
but never mind,
we were so used to it
that it felt normal –
and, as I said,
Out here we are exposed,
and cold winds blow.
We need to hold on tight,
keep our eyes open
for sudden snow squalls,
It’s a precarious existence now –
but here we can move and breathe,
see clear to the far horizon.
And if we come to a cliff,
we know we can step off it
into empty air,
trusting it to bear us up.
We have no fear
Nagoya, November 2010