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How to keep young students active and engaged while learning: Part 2

Jul 8, 2016 | Guest Post

I teach children aged between 5-and-a-half and seven-and-a-half years old. Children at this age need to be active; they need different strategies and activities to keep them motivated and engaged in their learning. The interesting part is that the children love to contribute and give me advice on how to change or add to an activity or make their own activities.
Here are a few that we enjoy in my class. See my earlier post for more.1. Physical activity before or after a lesson

Green Light: Move quickly.
Red light: Stop – and make a funny pose or a funny face without moving or speaking.
Orange Light: Go slow – act out in slow motion.I ask the children to find a spot anywhere in the classroom and to act out the activity in silence.
I say: “Green Light, you are a beautiful butterfly looking for a flower to sit on”.
Allow children to act out this command for a time then say, “Orange Light”, then “Red Light”.
Change the command, eg, “You’re an aeroplane flying in and out of clouds,” or, “You’re a slithering snake looking for food … “.

This activity helps with listening, following instructions, and thinking quickly while having fun.

2. Another activity children love (and it’s good for learning adjectives too)

  • Have a student walk around the classroom.
  • Find an object to describe to the class.
  • Come back to the mat.
  • Describe the object chosen by only using 3 specific descriptions.
  • The rest of the class have 3 chances to guess what it is.
  • The child who guesses correctly goes next.

Example: it is square, it is hanging on the wall, it has orange and red stars on it.

3. “End of the day” activity to solidify learning
I say: “I am not an animal, I am not a thing, I am a person, I work in the circus, I have funny make-up on my face and I do funny things that make you laugh I am a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ “.
Or: “I am not a person, I am not a thing, I am an animal I have a trunk and I am the biggest mammal on land, I am an _ _ _ _ _ _ _“.

I tailor this activity depending on what the letter sound, blend or family word for the week is. In my books, The Language Contract 1,2,3 there are activities such as this that can used or changed to suit.

Peggy Bruce is a primary school teacher, specialising in teaching children who are learning English as speakers of other languages. She enjoys writing and has developed many of her own classroom reading and writing resources.

Peggy is the author of the series The Language Contract which is available in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the rest of the world.

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