Children: 4-6 year-olds
In this section, find out how 4-6 year-old children learn and develop.
|Pre-school or just beginning school||Not used to classroom conventions||Training in class routines|
e.g listening to teacher
|Limited motor skills||Clumsy control of pen / scissors etc.||to develop motor control|
e.g. colouring, copying
|Learning holistically||Whole child needs stimulation||opportunities to move, sing, play, explore, touch etc|
|Cannot distinguish between different parts of language||Cannot analyse language||Exposure to *chunks of language e.g. chants, stories, classroom language|
|Limited reading/writing skills in L1||Introducing reading/ writing in English||Lots of listening, speaking activities|
Fun introduction to English letters and words
|See no need to communicate in English||Students use L1 exclusively||Reasons to speak English|
e.g. games, chants
|Love stories, fantasy||Bored with many topics||Stories, fantasy, fun|
*chunks of language = words that naturally come together e.g. ‘thank you very much’, ‘glass of water’, ‘have a nice day’ – that are easily learnt, repeated and do not need analysis.
Chants are great as children
- learn to work together
- pick up chunks
- get to listen to lots of meaningful language
- have a reason to use English
- find them funny
- move their body
- enjoy repeating them
Chants are easy to make up. I made this one up for my 5-6 year olds. They had already begun learning animals. We chanted it together and did actions for the different animals. (pretended to splash water etc)
- My name’s Fred and I’m a frog – jump, jump, jump
- My name’s Kate and I’m a cat – miaow, miaow, miaow
- My name’s Fergie and I’m a fish – splash, splash, splash
- My name’s Micky and I’m a mouse – squeak, squeak, squeak
- My name’s Benny and I’m a bird – flap, flap, flap
This is a lovely chant with a rhythm that children enjoy. They can stretch their arms out to show ‘big’ and bring their hands close together to show ‘little’. It also helps to develop:
Classic songs like Old MacDonald had a farm are very popular with young children. This is a version of the song that encourages students to produce long vowel sounds. It also practises the numbers one to four. Farms are pretty universal. Young students enjoy making the animal noises and farm animals are a nice lexical set.
To create a nice wall display, get children to draw their favourite farm animal and the teacher (or a child who draws quickly and finishes their animal) can draw a big farm to paste the animals onto. More animals can be added later as well as a farmer etc. Once they begin writing, students can label the different animals.
There are many story books based on animals. Children love listening to stories about animals especially If there are colourful, child-friendly visuals to help them follow the story. You can also use cuddly animal toys while story-telling to get and hold the children’s attention.
Children all love games. 4 – 6 year olds have still to develop cooperative skills, so introducing games that involve turn-taking helps to develop these skills. Do not despair if they get impatient or want to take each other’s turns – they are still learning to be less egocentric and need lots of opportunities to allow these skills to develop (
The first version of the game is appropriate for 4 – 6 year olds as they simply have to count out the steps of the game according to what their dice lands on and then name the animal on the spot.
Cutting and colouring
See . The students get to create a herd of elephants by cutting out an elephant and naming him/her. They can also colour it in. They can practise the ‘What’s your elephant called?’ & ‘He’s / She’s called….’