In this guest post, Weronika Salandyk, a teacher, teacher trainer and materials writer from Poland, introduces some very simple games that can transform a language learner classroom into a vibrant place of learning, as if by magic! Feel free to follow Weronika on Twitter (@weronika_sal).
Don’t you think that a teacher is sometimes like a magician who performs tricks and illusions? In my school I have my own magician’s hat. It is actually a big blue box which I carry from classroom to classroom. It is loaded with books, flashcards and … a few unusual objects such as a piece of string.
A piece of string is the basic prop in the fish game. You also need a few colourful paper fish. Two teams sit on the floor in two rows, each player opposite his/her opponent from the other team. Exactly in the middle place the paper fish, one between every competing pair, and a piece of string along each team. Show students, one by one, flashcards or ask them questions, and if they answer correctly they can blow the fish. This is the most awaited moment of the whole game! If the fish touches the opponents’ string the player scores one point for his/her team.
Make a few knots on your string and you are ready for the tug of war tournament. Put the string on the desk or on the floor and place a pen next to a knot in the middle. It will indicate where the middle of the field is. The number of knots on each side should be the same. Prepare a pile of flashcards and a black sheet of paper to cover the picture. You may use it to uncover the flashcard fragment by fragment or cut a hole in the middle and move it around displaying parts of the picture. Divide the class into two groups. Explain that children must quickly guess the picture. The team who say it first gain one knot. Move the string in such a way that the winning team gets one knot more on their field and the pen stays where it was. The winner is the team who gain all the knots on their side.
How about using string to deal with classroom management? Inspired by the idea of Rudolph and his red nose, I have hung a drawing of a hedgehog and a red balloon at two ends of the string. The balloon is an apple which the hedgehog wanted to eat. At the end of each lesson it makes either a tiny or a huge step towards the apple depending how nicely students behave. It is quite easy to move the hedgehog because it is attached to a string with a clothes peg. Children always hope it will take two or three steps forward. Why? The secret of the activity is the apple. Inside the balloon there is a piece of paper which says what reward students will get when the hedgehog reaches the apple. It works like magic. They can’t wait to burst the balloon!
A ball of string is just one of many things I take out of my magic box during the lesson. They make children’s eyes open wide with amazement and joy. They make me believe I do the right thing. Have you got any seemingly useless objects which make your lessons magical?