This week I began using Spectrum Geography 3 with an advanced class of elementary school students. I’ll be writing more about it in the future, but for now it’s enough to say that Spectrum is a superb series that I highly recommend for high level learners. The first lesson of Geography 3 is called “Models of the Earth” and introduces such terms as physical map, the equator, the poles, elevation, and other useful terminology that children might be learning in social studies if they were attending an English speaking school.
But the real heart of the lesson is learning the names of the seven continents and four
five oceans (although not everybody uses the term Southern Ocean yet, I am banking on the day that they do, so I included it in the lesson.) This can be quite challenging though since names such as Atlantic, Pacific, and Antarctica can prove difficult for children to remember. Fortunately for me, Super Teacher Worksheets had exactly what I needed to supplement my lesson. It’s no surprise really, since Spectrum Books and Super Teacher Worksheets complement each other very well.
In this project children construct a world map out of four sheets of size A4 paper. You can view a preview of it by clicking on this link, or you can just scroll down to the images below. As you can see, students cut out the pieces of the map and glue the four quadrants together. They then cut out the names of the oceans and continents and glue them in their correct places. They they color all the continents and oceans according to the instructions. It’s easy as pie really, but it’s exactly the kind of hands on learning that really helps to cement these kinds of terms into those little heads.
Here is what the project looks like beforehand:
And here is what it looks like when it’s completed:
Super Teacher Worksheets has a USD20 annual subscription fee, but it really is peanuts when compared to the quality of the materials you gain access to. They always seem to have that little something extra that will make your lessons special.
I was just browsing the OUP channel on Youtube this morning and came across this short video by Barbara Hoskins (a co-author of the Let’s Go series) about how to make a digital picture book with your students.
Give it a watch:
Here is one of the storybooks her students made:
While in this video Barbara is discussing students recording storybooks the children have written themselves, you could just as easily record storybooks or parts of novels that you study in class. It would make a cute keepsake for children and parents.
Has anyone done anything similar?
In the meantime I’ll be on the lookout for free software to try it out.
In recent years I have become really fond of cooking classes as way of further engaging the senses of my students. It’s a great opportunity to talk about food names, tastes, colors, smells, textures and cooking words in a way that that isn’t really practical during an ordinary English class. And since the result of the class is that everybody makes something they can actually eat, almost everybody really gets into it.
It’s a perfect activity for small or large groups. At one school last year I conducted one cooking class every month and the kids always had a blast. It’s also great for open-classes like I conducted this past weekend, where the parents were participating along with their child (as well as a few brothers, sisters, and grandparents). In the later case, it’s a great opportunity for you to interact with the parents and to connect with the children.
It’s very important to get the logistics right, so you need a lot of support from your school to get the ingredients bought and prepared, and to set up and take down the class. The choice of food you make is also really important. Let’s be frank, the point of this type of class is not to introduce the joys of foreign cooking, so choose something the children are familiar with, that way there is no chance of them not liking it.
Now, since I am in Korea, that meant making mini kimbap. First off, I did a short warm-up to get everybody in the mood. I talked about what we were going to make, introducing the ingredients while asking the audience to describe their colors. For these kinds of things I always make great use of my monkey doll, who also talks and interacts with the children (I’ll be writing more about the importance of this at a later date). Then I demonstrated how to make the food, although I am sure the children’s parents could already do that far better than me. It’s good to ask for volunteers during the demonstration to help generate interest. Of course, some of the very little brothers and sisters didn’t wait to be asked, and just came up to assist me.
Then we got down and dirty and started making the food. In a normal class, I take a very step-by-step approach with the kids to keep them under control. But with the parents around there isn’t too much for the teacher to do except circulate, help where necessary, and just be sociable with the children and parents. We even prepared little plastic cases for children to take home what they made. By the end of the class, everyone had a smile on their faces and parents leave with a much better impression of that new foreign teacher they’ve heard about.
The last of three sessions. I was a big fan of the little guy in the yellow and white hat on the right. He had me in chuckles through most of the class.