Learning through play

A variety in language internalization process through games and activities enables school children to acquire English in a more enjoyable and understandable way. Play is the medium through which every teacher can enter the children’s world and make them unconsciously assimilate new skills with a smile from ear to ear.

Each game proposed by a teacher in a particular group of children must meet some basic conditions,i.e.:

  • to be nice and pleasant,
  • assumes easy to achieve goal,
  • rules have to be clear and simple,
  • make children to take part spontaneously and voluntarily,
  • arouse their engagement
  • cause a willingness to start it on their own initiative (maybe sometimes even without teacher’s presence).

While conducting language classes in the kindergarten I have noticed that the games proposed by me meet all of already mentioned conditions. The kids were playing on and on even after I left the class.

Modified potato round-up

The first game I proposed to my tiny tots as a vocabulary round-up is modified by me „Hot potato” game during which children are sitting cross-legged in a circle and tossing each other a small object (koosh ball, a linen bag filled with groats,etc.) while music is playing. When the music stops a child who still holds the „hot potato” drops out the game. In order to make the game perfect for repetitions of vocabulary and phrases I gave up background music and suggested that each child who is holding the „hot potato” has to say one word or phrase in English and then pass it over to its neighbor. Because our potato is very hot and it burns our hands it has to be passed as quick as possible! Words cannot be repeated so children have to stay focused and listen carefully to each other. If someone thinks too long, the whole group counts to three and then he or she drops out the game. The game is extremely exciting so I had to remind them to throw our „potato” gently into awaiting arms of a neighbor. At the end of the game, when there is only two children left, the rest of the group eagerly cheer the person they liked better through the game.

Engaging the whole body

Another fantastic game which involves the whole group and, its objective is to repeat language material in a group of preschoolers, is called „Change your places if …” This game belongs to the TPR (Total Physical Response) group of games which are designed not only to take care of the child’s mind but also the whole body. It prolongs foreign language familiarizing time and develops understanding through deduction process. It also develops spacial awareness. Thanks to TPR games children learn how to associate facts faster. While listening to commands and instructions preschoolers involve their whole bodies. In this game there are no winners or losers. Children sit in the circle and their task is to change places if…Well, if what? Possibilities are almost endless. Let’s take a look:

Change your place if…

  • you wear socks… (only a child who wears socks can change its place)
  • you like chocolate, cats, pink colour… (if someone doesn’t like a particular thing or animal, stays in place)
  • you have green eyes, blue eyes, hazel eyes, two legs, twenty fingers…
  • you have a dog, a cat, a hamster …
  • you can jump, sing, walk, run …

Those can be enumerated endlessly. However, I propose to use commands which will be grist to the preschoolers mill. The vast majority loves chocolate, ice-creams and furry animals. They also like to change places with somebody who wears the same colour.

Boosting the attention span

Some other game I used to play with my preschoolers was „I went to shops and bought…” It is a classic game that develops children memory and the ability to focus for a longer time. The rules of this game are also very simple.

A teacher starts the game by saying:

I went to shops and bought an apple.” This apple is just an example. You can try with any other word related to food, clothing or animals they are already know. Then, the next person has to keep in mind the first word and then add a new one:

I went to shops and bought an apple and grapes.” Another child is now to memorize two words and add one more. A child who won’t remember the whole list drops out the game. The winner can start the game one more time. With this game we can round-up any set of vocabulary and laugh our heads off.

Let us remember that having fun is never a waste of time but an opportunity to put into practice everything children have learned so far. Owing to the games, preschoolers tighten their ties, master their interaction and communication skills, learn logical reasoning, sequence in positive behavior (they learn how to win and lose) and the perception of already learned material from a different perspective,i.e. combining the knowledge with circumstances and principles. From my point of view, this type of practice allows for a harmonious transition between theory and life.

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