Number one for English language teachers

Keith’s Corner: Entry 22: My body

Type: Article

Action is always an important part of any curriculum for young children. In his latest diary entry, Keith shares with us activities that get children moving and, of course, there’s plenty of language learning to be had along the way.

Exercising the body

Exercise is a vital part of each lesson, especially with very young learners. We normally start by taking out the yoga mats and warm up to The Good Morning Song, courtesy of Matt at Dream English. The song is a fine way to get our toddlers moving! This paves the way for the Wake Up! song and more movement. Such songs are great for gross motor development. They’re also great for settling children in and helping them feel comfortable in an immersive L2 environment.

Another fun exercise routine we use is the game ‘Simon Says’. While the mats are still out, we’ll get the kids to listen to the instructions and do the appropriate actions. Our youngest learners can get tired quickly so we make sure not to push their limits. With the older children, we increase the level of challenge: kids are ‘out’ if they don’t listen carefully.

The older pupils also complete an exercise routine. Since they spend most of their time at school sitting down, we often start with an ‘action’ sequence. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, with one of our teachers playing ukulele, going faster each time, is one such sequence.

All these games are very good for helping children to learn the names of parts of the body.

And, then, it’s time to tidy up the mats!

Body songs and games

One of the songs we introduced recently was My Body! After a concentration activity with the toddlers, we’ll often sing Open Shut Them. The song practises various parts of the body and is also great for gross motor skills.

Music is a great tool to develop children’s sense of rhythm. See, for example, the chanting game ‘Ram-Tam-Tam’ that we described in diary entry 16. Another example of a chanting activity is the song Boom Chicka Boom. Here, kids sing action words and do the actions.

Coming up with songs and rhymes to sing on the spot also encourages kids to get creative and they will often start making more new songs up as you go.

‘Musical Chairs’ is another game our pupils enjoy very much. To practise language describing parts of the body, we place flashcards of body parts on each chair. When the kids sit on the chairs, they have to read whatever word or phrase they find there!

The kids also had lots of fun putting together a skeleton jigsaw puzzle. 

Body books

One of the books we worked with was the Flip Flap Body Book. Another was See Inside Your Body. Both are brilliant for helping children to understand how their bodies work and for stimulating their curiosity.

Body art

The final art activity for the week was proudly displayed on our doors and walls. The children worked in groups of two and three and each group had one long strip of cardboard. One child lay down on the paper while the rest of the group drew around them, making an outline. Then, together, they coloured in the picture and labelled it with the main body parts. Afterwards, each picture was measured, with the exact height written next to the head. This was a helpful revision of an earlier topic, clothes, as the teachers walked around the room asking what the outlined figure was wearing.

We certainly had fun getting active!

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