Building Sentences Worksheets from Super Teacher Worksheets

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Who would have thought a worksheet could take me right back to grade 1? Just as Marcel’s brief encounter with a crumbling Madeline cookie, so it was with me this past week after coming across the new Building Basic Sentences worksheets from Super Teacher Worksheets.

In these worksheets, young students can cut out a selection of 4 or 5 words and glue them on the page in the correct order to form a basic sentence. They then rewrite the sentences and draw a picture underneath of what the sentence means (exactly the kind of thing I did in my French immersion elementary school back in the 80s).

The site just recently added a few dozen of these worksheets including two free samples which you can download from the site directly or by clicking on the images below.

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As always, the worksheets are beautifully made, easy to use, and perfect for the classroom. And if Tim Weibel, the creator of Super Teacher Worksheets, or anyone else from the site happens to be reading this then I have some unsolicited advice. Get your programming people to design a worksheet generator for this activity. It’s exactly the kind of thing a lot of teachers like me would kill to have.

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Review of Genki English’s I am a Robot

The I am a Robot song from Genki English was something I had shunned for a long while, like a child who won’t eat his spinach without even having tried it. Then this past month I actually listened to song for the first time (and quite by accident)  and knew instantly that I was dealing with the Gangnam Style of EFL songs. It was an instant hit that had the children singing the ultra-simple lyrics long into the day.

In the following video you can see Richard Graham, the creator of Genki English, teach the song at a seminar.

On the song page Richard Graham says that he created the I am a Robot song to practice the short o sound but that it also works as a standalone lesson for teaching the words “on” and “off”. The later is where I think the song really shines and that’s how I taught it.

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Owners of Genki English can just print off the two flash cards, quick and easy. At the start of class, I bring out one of them and talk about what the picture is of, but of course the children usually already know the word robot. Then we spend some time walking, running, jumping, raising and lowering our hands like a robot would, with lots of sound effects. Actually it’s fun just to try the Genki Disco Warm-up in robot mode.

After a few minutes of fun, I bring out the other flashcard (the one that says “off”) and ask the children what the difference is between the pictures. Some say one is taller than the other, some say it’s his little robot brother, but eventually somebody figures out that the robot has been turned off (most of these children are at a pre-reading level). Then I introduce the words “on” and “off”, and we practice turning ourselves on and off like a robot might. They have just loads of fun telling me to go on and off repeatedly until I “break down”.

Now it’s time to do the song. The first time around I invite two of the more brave and active students to come up and do the song with me (they should be volunteers), since all they really have to do is follow along. But since they don’t exactly look like robots I’ve brought along these cheap two dollar sets of sunglasses that they can wear.

Suddenly the kids start to feel like actual robots. The glasses are just a bit too small for me so for next time I plan to make glasses like Doc Brown wears in Back to the Future 2.

Now if you’re really lucky you’ll get kids who get really into it. Some of my 6-year-olds put me to shame with their robot moves. We go through the dance routing like in the video above, and by the the time it’s done the rest of the class is begging to join in. So I distribute a few more sunglasses to some lucky ones and we go again.

A side note on props: As I work freelance, I wasn’t prepared to keep twenty or thirty sets of kids’ sunglasses in storage at my home waiting for the one or two times a year that I use them. But if you work for an English preschool, you just might convince the powers that be to pay for them and then keep them in the closet until you need them.

Genki English has continuously provided me with some of the most exciting songs I’ve ever had the pleasure of teaching, and I now count the I am a Robot song among my top five. If you could see the laughs it brought to my young learners, you be dying to teach it too.

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Upcoming Webinar: Changing with the Times: The 21st Century Classroom

Adapting technology for use in the EFL classroom continues to be a hobby/concern/obsession of mine. So my interest was piqued by a blog post on the OUP Global ELT Blog by the teacher and materials developer Gareth Davies titled “Changing with the Times: The 21st Century Classroom,” in which he asks:

“How does this digitalisation of life affect our students when they come into our classrooms? Have their expectations changed or their behaviour patterns? Should we be looking to adapt our methodology to meet the modern challenges of 21st Century teaching?”

A webinar on 30th of January by Mr. Davies will expand on his thoughts in the blog. Alas I’ll be traveling in Japan then, but just in case I plan to sign up anyway. And so should you, by visiting the registration page. In the meantime you can read more material written by Mr. Davies by checking out his blogs.

Here is a video from Mr. Davies discussing interactive whiteboards:

And another on using digital media with teenagers:

Five Senses Workseets from Education.com

The Education.com LogoThis week I found myself teaching about the five senses to one of my classes using Spectrum Writing 2 (Chapter 4, Lesson 1). The exercises in the text were excellent but I wanted something a little more, just in case I ran out of things to do. That’s when I came across these beautiful worksheets from Education.com, an amazing online resource that I find myself coming back to again and again for high quality classroom material. Although it is a pay site, you can download up to 10 worksheets a month at no charge, which is not a bad deal.

These worksheets in particular are pretty straightforward. Children essentially draw a picture of themselves using their each of their senses in a specific situation, such as “We use our ears to hear. Draw something you hear at the zoo.” In addition, I asked the students to also write on the paper what it is that they are drawing (it is a writing class after all).

Click on any of the images below to download them from the site.

Sense of Hearing Worksheet from Education.comSense of Sight Worksheet from Education.com Sense of Taste Worksheet from Education.com Five Senses 03

Sense of Smell Worksheet from Education.com

While the site describes these worksheets as having been designed for kindergarteners, I think they are age appropriate for any elementary school-aged children. My own students put a lot of energy into creating their own unique answers and really seemed to enjoy the drawing and coloring aspect of it (although they didn’t want to let on). And if these ones are not quite to your liking, just check out the large selection of other worksheets on this subject that are available from Education.com.

Review of If You’re Happy (and you know it) by Super Simple Songs

“If you’re happy and you know it” is one of those quintessential classic children songs that really should be taught to English learners, if nothing else, for cultural reasons. The trouble is, in the words of the good people at Super Simple Learning, “The traditional version of this song can be a little tough for younger learners. If you visit an EFL or ESL class, or even a class of younger native-speakers, you’ll often hear the children singing something like:

If you’re happy (mumble, mumble, mumble) clap your hands!

If you’re happy (mumble, mumble, mumble) clap your hands!

If you’re happy (mumble, mumble, mumble), (mumble, mumble, mumble)

If you’re happy (mumble, mumble, mumble) clap your hands!

“The tempo is often too quick and phrases like “and you know it” and “then your face will surely show it” aren’t easy for young children to sing or understand through gestures and expressions.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

So they went and fixed one of the most well-known children songs of all time, and by that, I really mean fixed it. The new version retains the traditional melody while the simple (and IMHO, improved) lyrics focus on the core vocabulary: emotions like happy, angry, scared, and sleepy; as well as TPR actions such as clap your hands, stomp your feet, say “oh no!”, and take a nap. All my preschoolers loved singing this new version, especially the ones who were already familiar with it. In the (L1) words of one of my students, “Wow, it’s a lot easier to sing than the one my mom plays for me at home.”

Super Simple Learning has also released a new ultra-cute music video on YouTube,
which I recently used during a music festival at one of the preschools I freelance at. We put the video up on the large screen for the children and parents to sing along to, and boy did they; even the younger siblings were having a ball trying to dance like the characters on the screen. (Broccoli head, as he was called, proved a huge hit!)

Finally, like all songs from Super Simple Learning, there are great teaching tips on the song page as well as free flashcards you check out.

Free Flash Cards for "If You're Happy" by Super Simple Learning

I happen to love these flashcards but some of my younger children confused “scared” for “sad”.