The Harry Potter Game from Genki English

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The Harry Potter game from Genki English (GE) is one of the most exhausting games I’ve yet to play with my preschoolers, but it’s also one of the most exciting. Originally the creation of teacher Bridget McNamara, it reinforces the language taught in the classic GE theme, “What are you doing?” by Richard Graham. (You can read about Bridget’s experience playing the game on the Genki English site.)
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This theme is a great follow-up to the super energetic and warm-up par excellence, Eat! Drink! Dance! since both use the same vocabulary words, and it teaches probably one of the most useful questions a child could ever need.
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What are you doing?
by Richard Graham
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I’m eating
I’m drinking
I’m reading
I’m sleeping
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What are you doing?
What are you doing?
What are you doing?
What are you doing?
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I’m singing
I’m cooking
I’m dancing
I’m fishing

(Repeat Chorus)

What are you doing 01

These are mini cards that you can print and use in your class. They’re great for playing concentration and a host of other activities.

And with one of the most memorable melodies of all Richard Graham’s work, the song is really, really sticky – so much so that the kids won’t be able to stop asking you or their classmate what they’re doing.
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But back to the game….
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The way I play, I pretend to be the Dark Lord Voldemort while all the children are little witches and wizards whom I want to entrance with my evil magic. I may even have a magic wand (actually a plastic xylophone mallet) just to look cool. I then chase the children around the class, trying to lightly tap them on the shoulder with my wand or hand. When I do, I say the magical spell “I’m eating” in a moderately spooky voice, and trap the child where they stand.
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what are you doing 03The child is now doomed to continuously say “I’m eating” again and again while also having to pretend to eat something. As the game continues, more and more children become trapped and helpless against my evil magic. Ha ha ha!
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what are you doing 04
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But wait! That is not all. The other students can save their trapped comrades by rushing up to them and saying the counter spell, “What are you doing?” thus releasing the child from the spell.
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What are you doing 05
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There is no real ending to the game unless Voldemort catches everyone so after five minutes I call time, take a rest for a bit and then start again with a different “spell” like “I’m fishing.”
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With larger classes of older children I’d probably appoint a third of the class to be Voldemorts like Bridget suggests but with the preschoolers I was teaching I like to keep a little more control of things-even if that means I feel like collapsing by the end of the hour.
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Disclaimer: In teaching this song and game I’ve made a disturbing discovery – I’m getting really old, really fast. Now I was never the biggest fan of the series, but when I first got into teaching, kids young and old all seemed to know who Harry Potter was. Five year olds would dress up as him for Halloween parties and recite spells from the films. The whole reason I bothered to watch the movies and even read the first book was just to keep up.
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But the kids I teach nowadays are all “Harry-who?” and “Volde-what?”. Not even classic photos of the characters enticed a smidgen of recognition. Even the older kids just dismiss it all as “old stuff.”
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That said your kids WILL get into the game and have a real blast, just like mine did. They didn’t give a hoot who Harry Potter was so long as they got to run wild.
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