I've been teaching English to kindergarten and elementary school students for a year and a half now, and I've had a really hard time finding lesson and games ideas to use because of my situation - I teach nearly 3,000 students at 10 different schools, and only see my kids once a month if I'm extremely lucky (more often it's once every 2 months or in the worst cases once a semester) for 45-minute classes. My students aren't learning English formally, so only the ones who take private lessons can read or even answer questions like "How are you?", and generally they forget most everything from the previous lesson by the next time I see them. This is something I've had a really hard time dealing with, particularly when schools give me lesson plans like "Teach them the days of the week, to tell time, to say & answer 'What time do you get up?", "Where do you want to go?", etc. within the space of a single class.
I can't be the only one in this sort of situation, so I wanted to share some of the ideas I've found for classes of 20-40 students (and the occasional classes of 90-110 students at once in small areas). Hopefully it helps somebody else out there! I teach all levels of elementary, but right now I only have time to type out 1st/2nd grade. I'll continue with more grade levels as I have time.
---- Lessons for 1st/2nd graders
*Note: Most of these lessons can be stretched over 2 classes, and in fact take a LOT of time if your kids are anything like mine and need to be herded into everything/stopped from chewing on other kids/yanked off the windowsills. Fruit lesson
- Teach about 8 common fruit names using flashcards
- Practice "I like ____." and "Do you like ____?"
- Play "Fruits Basket"
- Make 5-6 groups using fruit names ("Apple", "Banana", etc) and assign a portion of the class to each, making sure they understand which they are. Students sit in a circle with their chairs and one child (without a chair) stands in the middle and calls out one or more group names. "Apples, strawberries!" These children quickly get up out of their seats and run to another seat, and the last child left without a seat is the new "It".
- Play "Fruit Janken" (Rock-Paper-Scissors)
- Make or print out a series of 8 mini fruit flashcards (the British Council's Learn English website has a wonderful premade set), cut them out, and give each child 4-5 cards. Have them go around playing Rock-Paper-Scissors, and the winner gets to ask the loser for the fruit card they want (as simple as "Apple, please!" works for me). If the loser has the card, s/he gives one over, if they don't have the card, they say "Sorry, goodbye!" and find another partner. Have the kids count their cards at the end and find out who has the most. If kids run out of cards during the game, it's a good idea to give them 1-2 new ones so that no one is left out. Colors lesson
- Teach 8-10 common color names.
- To review, say a color name and have the kids run around and touch something in the classroom that is that color. (Gets very noisy!)
- Guess What's Next game
- Paste up flashcards or squares of colored paper around the classroom, and have your own set of the same color cards in your hand. Give kids 10 seconds to guess what color card you will show them next by running to that color's area and standing in front of it. If they guess right, just let them cheer or have them count on their fingers how many times they guess right. (Simple but my kids LOVE this game.)
- 4 Corners game
- Put a colored card in each corner of the room and put a chair in the middle. The teacher can start out as "It", sitting on the chair and closing your eyes and counting to 10 loudly while the kids run to one of the corners silently (ha). "It" then points their finger (with eyes still closed) at one of the corners and shouts out the name of the color there, and all the kids who have chosen that corner are now out and come to the middle of the room to sit with "It" and count to 10. (Alternatively, choose one of them to be the new "It".)
- Pass the Ball game
- Split the class into 2 groups sitting on the floor in circles (it's helpful if there is another teacher in the room with you, but not necessary), and on the wall or blackboard make a row of various color flashcards. The first child hold
s the ball and says the name of the first color, then throws it to anyone else in the group. If the child catches it, they say the next color name, but if they miss it/drop it, they must start from the beginning again. Very helpful with color names the kids' can't remember, make the hard ones the 1st and 2nd in order and the kids will be repeating them a million times during the game. Animal lesson
- Teach about 8 common animal names. (I've had great success reading the book "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" to the kids with gestures, and then using those animals to start with.)
- I Like Pink Fish game
- (Review colors and animal names first!) Make a series of cards of colors and animal pictures, and scatter them over the floor or a table in the classroom. Have kids form 2 lines and play the game 2 at a time - the 2 kids race to the table, grab any 1 color card and any 1 animal card and run to the teacher. If they can make a simple sentence ("I like (color) (animal)."), or for very low level students just say the names of both cards, I give them a sticker.
- Fetch & Say
- Similiar to "I Like Pink Fish", a good review for a lesson after you've played that game. Using the same set of flashcards of words the students know (animals, colors, etc) scattered on the floor, have 2 students at a time race to find the card you call out ("Monkey!"). The one who finds it first brings it to the front and shows it to you, the child who is slower just has to tell you the name of the card. (Alternatively, have 2 sets of each card.) Body parts lesson
- Teach the children the names of body parts used in the "Head & Shoulders" song, and sing the song together. (My kids know it in their native language, so it's not hard to switch to English with some practice.)
- Simon Says / "Please!" game
- My kids have a hard time with "Simon Says..", so I started using "Please!" instead. Tell the kids that you will test them - if you touch a body part and say the name + "please!" ("Head, please!"), they should touch the same part on themselves, but if they don't hear "please", they shouldn't do anything. (I know it's shifty grammar, BUT it's easier to trick them if the name of the body part is said first because then they have to listen for the "please".) Keep playing until everyone can do it without making a mistake, faster and faster.
- Touch Your Friend
- Have kids form pairs, and teach with gestures "TOUCH.. your friend's.. _____!" They have to reach over and touch the spot on their partner's body, which leads to a lot of laughing and screaming, especially if they are in boy-girl pairs. Although I always get some horsing around during this game, the kids love it.
- Cooties game
- Takes a bit of time, but my kids love it. Give the kids a picture of an animal (caterpillar, teddy bear, etc) with 6 body parts (ears, hands, feet, etc) marked with numbers 1-6. Have them color it and then instruct them to cut it into the sections (requires some supervision), then make their desks into groups of 4-6 kids. Give each group a die and have them take turns rolling it - on their turn if they roll a 1, they can take the part labeled "1", etc, until they have reassembled their entire creature back together by rolling all the numbers. At the end, you can let them glue the scraps back together on a seperate sheet of paper if desired.
- Fukuwarai game (Funny Faces)
- Have kids form groups of 4-6, and give each group a blank outline of a person's head, plus an envelope containing a mishmash of cut-out individual face parts (eyes, mouth, etc) from magazines or just clip art/your own drawings. Kids take turns drawing one piece from the envelope (while blindfolded or closing their eyes) and trying to put it in the right spot on the face. You end up with some hilariously deformed faces out of this game.
- Drawing game
- Give each child a blank piece of paper and have them sit in a big circle with their pencils. Instruct them that you are going to draw a person together, but only one part at a time. Tell them the name of a single face part and give them 20-30 seconds to draw it, then shout "STOP!" and have them pass their paper to the child to their right, and start with the next face part and another 20-30 seconds. After 6 or so kids have gone and the face is complete, tell the last child that this is their present - either their own face in the future, or the face of their child, future spouse, etc. "How are you?" / Emotions lesson
- Teach the kids 7-8 simple emotions (happy, sad, hungry, sleepy, angry, sick, scared, etc.) with flashcards and gestures
- Practice the question "How are you?" "I'm ____." by either pointing at cards or having kids give their own answers.
- How are you? Janken (Rock-Paper-Scissors)
- Give each kid 3-4 mini flashcards with pictures of all the emotions on them and have them play Rock-Paper-Scissors. The loser asks the winner "How are you?" and the winner responds with "I'm (emotion card they want)." ("I'm sleepy.") If the loser is holding a "sleepy" card, they give it to the winner, if not, they say "Goodbye!" Afterwards, see how many cards each child gathered by counting together. If a kid runs out of cards, give them 1-2 new ones to use.
- How are you? Memory
- Give each child one card with an emotion picture on it to be kept secret. Have one child from the class come to the front of the room and pick another student and ask them "How are you?" That student should respond using the name of the card they're holding ("I'm hungry."). The student at the front then picks another student and asks again, "How are you?" If both students are holding the same card, the child playing the game wins, but if the cards are different, the child returns to his/her seat. It's good to make a rule that once a pair is found, the same two kids can't be used to make a winning set again. This game takes FOREVER if there are lots of kids in the class, but my kids love it.
- (You can use other games, like the "Pass the Ball" game mentioned above, to review the emotion words!) Holiday Activities to Kill Time
These are based off American holidays, I usually do these for the month leading up to the holiday as a lot of my teachers request that I do American culture activities with the kids.
- Make a Valentine card
- Coloring Easter bunny/Easter eggs pictures
- Make a pumpkin face for Halloween
- Make Christmas cards for Christmas (use clip art found from Google Images to make a coloring book-style card if you don't have time for them to draw their own)
- Write their New Year's resolutions (in English or their own language)
- Make 4-leaf clovers for St. Patrick's Day with their names written in English
- Make paper snowflakes for winter
- Make stockings or ornaments from paper for Christmas with their names
- Make hand turkeys (trace the outline of their hand on a piece of paper and turn it into a turkey by drawing a little beak on the thumb, make the fingers into the tail feathers, add feet) for Thanksgiving
Hope this helps someone, I have lots of other lesson plans but this is a pretty general selection of games I've found for making 45-minute lesson plans that review things a good deal and don't require too much work for the teacher besides cutting out mini flashcards (I photocopy out 25 sheets of 8 cards and slice them up and it's enough for all my classes and I use them for weeks) or bringing a ball. Good luck! If you have more ideas for teaching these concepts, I'd love to hear them!