The twelve months

May 18, 2011 § 1 Comment

I was revising today the months of the year and the seasons with my 7-8 year olds. As the lesson worked really well I would like to share it with you.

I started off with drawing 4 trees on the board, one with a few green leaves, one with flowers, one with falling leaves and the last one just with the branches. Underneath I wrote the words for the seasons, but with the letters mixed up: prngis – musmre – umtanu – treniw They got three of them very quickly just autumn was a bit of a problem as it is quite difficult with the ‘mn’ at the end. But they enjoyed the challenge and it was a good lead in to the song I had taught them last week.

The song I had found on the British Council website and it is fairly easy to learn. http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/songs/the-leaves-the-tree I have added some movements as it is more fun for the kids. So when singing the first part we stretch our arms up and get on our toes to show how the leaves grow. In the next part we mime smelling the flowers and with the index finger move like a bee through the air. For the falling leaves we slowly move our hands and arms down till we get to the ground. For the last part we shrug our shoulders with arms up because nothing is left on the tree, what can you do?

After the song I wanted to see if they could remember the right order of the months in English. I started off with showing them a picture of a maybug (cockchafer) and asked them for the month. As this is a typical picture for May in their culture it was quite easy for them. So I put the wordcard for May on the floor. Then I handed out the other wordcards and asked them to put them in the right order. After a short discussion they agreed on the right order and I then handed out picture cards for the different months which they had to put next to the wordcards, e.g. a Christmas tree for December, a snowman for January, a girl in a bathing suit for July etc. They did this quite fast as we already had done this the week before. Some of the words were still fairly new so I spend some time on drilling pronunciation, changing voice and intonation, whispering or shouting (they quite like that)

.This was followed by the spelling race. Have a look at my previous post for the instructions. By the way, it got quite loud, so when you try it out warn your colleagues in advance.

Up to then it was all revision, but I wanted to include something new connected to months and seasons. I decided to use the Russian fairy tale ‘The twelve months’. If you don’t know this fairy tale you can find a version of it here http://chestofbooks.com/fairy-tale/Slav/III-The-Twelve-Months.html The question was how to get the story across to beginners of English. My drawing skills are quite limited and I didn’t have time to search for pictures on the Internet. So first I wrote the story in its base form down and then decided which parts needed to be illustrated. This list I presented to the children and let them choose which picture each of them wanted to draw. I didn’t tell them what I needed the pictures for and kept telling them that it was a surprise and that I would need the pictures for something special. The pictures were: the mother, the ugly girl, the beautiful girl, 3 old men, three a bit younger men, three younger men and three very young men, a house in winter, a mountain with snow, flowers, strawberries, and two apples.

All of this had taken about 60 min, so I gave them a 5 min break to get rid of their energy etc before I started with the story. I started with putting all the pictures on the floor, which was the sign for the children to come and sit in a circle around the pictures. Then I picked up the picture of the beautiful girl and told them her name, Mary, and that she was a very nice girl, then I showed the picture of the other girl, Helen, and told them that her sister was very bad. After that I told the story using the pictuers the children had drawn. To keep them engaged in the story I got them to find the right pictures and tried to be quite dramatic. For example when Helen got angry and shouted for her mother, I kept shouting like a grumpy child till they handed me the picture of the mother. Helpful was that most of the children already knew the story (something I didn’t know and hadn’t planned on) and they kept commenting and checked that I was telling the story correctly.  

As there were only a few minutes left after the story I left acting the story out for the next lesson. Instead the children asked for another massage. So I invented on the spot a season massage. I hadn’t planned this so there were no cushions, instead one child sat on a chair and the other one standing in front of him/her with the back turned to the partner.  Then I showed them the massage while talking about the seasons: In spring it’s warm and there’s a bit wind – slowly brushing with both hands down the back, in summer it’s hot – rubbing hands together until they are hot and pressing them on the back, in autumn it’s stormy – rubbing  with both hands up and down the back, in winter it’s snowing – walking the finger tips up and down the back. Then they changed positions  and repeated the massage and that was the end of the lessons. Just time to say good bye.

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