Children’s stories made by children: Claude Monet travels 80 million years back in time, and paints a well behaved T-Rex.

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Learning geometric solids and flats ( 3D and 2D shapes) with kids – in German and in English –

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Teaching kids geography and history with Napoleon, Wellington and Metternich

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More late afternoon fun with a costumed history and geography lesson – this time with Napoleon Buonaparte, the Duke of Wellington and diplomat Klemens von Metternich. The kids can say where each key 19th century person is from, their job, … Continue reading

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Why wait for Carnival? Getting into character – and into engaged learning

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 An English lesson about London, England and Great Britain – in costume and in character – makes kids so eager to participate that learning is effortless! 

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Note: the child in the video above, presenting London, knew very little English, and also very little about Tudor history and the current royal family until ten minutes before he did the presentation.  I am so proud of him! 

Carnival is not around the corner, but Halloween is only about five weeks away.  Why wait, though?  Since I have about 150 costumes (for both adults and children) in my collection, I like to use them whenever I can. As a foreign language teacher (who uses a strong communicative approach through drama and music), adding some festivity to any lesson is guaranteed to get children to learn their lesson, provided you let them know that the costumes are part of a lesson, rather than a free-for-all.

Last week we had a lesson about England and Great Britain, with a focus on London and some of England’s most famous monarchs.  We also included Scotland and the boys in the class were amused by the Scottish kilt, until I reminded them of the many kinds of traditional clothes. from around the world that include some kind of “skirt” worn by men.

Here are some photos of the teacher (Yours Truly) dressed as Queen Elizabeth the First, accompanied by a Queen’s Guard (yes, I know, the Palace Guards with the tall bearskin hats did not exist in Tudor times but from the Battle of Waterloo onwards – but the boy in that costume was able to explain to the class that he is in the service of the second Queen Elizabeth, the current monarch of Great Britain.)

Another child dressed as the formidable King Henry the Eighth.  He was loved pretending to be “my father”  :).

Included in this post is a video of a presentation of London, whose installation is made up of an amazing 3D map of the city (the children loved inserting the 3D representations of London’s historic and modern buildings into the spongy map base, and then adding the labels.)  There are also dolls representing King Henry the Eighth, Queen Elizabeth the First, her buddy William Shakespeare, Ada Lovelace, Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes. There is also a plastic doll of England’s current Queen Elizabeth the Second, solar-powered to wave her hand to the crowds :).  Of course, there are lots of colorful photos of the many famous London landmarks, and a pop-up book as well.  Between the 3D map, the photos, the pop-up book, the realia and the dolls, there are enough materials to give each student a useful role in presenting London.

The children are aware that these historic characters did not all live at the same time, and were able to put them onto a five-century-long timeline.

I am so proud of these kids.  Most of them have not been in Germany longer than two years.  Fluent in German already (and helping me to get fluent in German as well), they are now learning English, and having a lot of fun in the process! Not to mention they can help tourists find their way around London using an Underground map (from my realia collection), tell you plenty of things about Tudor history, and describe Britain’s current royal family.

This lesson promoted the following vocabulary and acquired skills:

  1.  the family
  2. clothes (of the past and the present)
  3. the present and the past tense
  4. correct placement of people and events in history
  5. political geography and culture
  6. public performance
  7. team-work and confidence building through fun!

 

 

 

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Geography Yoga with children –

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More photos to follow 🙂 

Two lessons were taught here: geography and some yoga.  Kids love  colors and shapes.  They love tangible materials and they love putting things together.  And of course, they love to stretch and move and have seemingly care-free fun doing yoga by putting various body parts on various “parts of the world” , in an extra-education version of the American game “Twister”.

Making the colorful yoga-mat continents involved a painstaking cut-out project where I glued together long strips of translucent baking paper, attached it to a huge, 2 x 1.4 meter world map in the main hallway of my school, got help from a 6th grade class to trace all the land masses and islands from this map,  cut out the continents and then transferred the pattern paper continents on to yoga mats, resulting in some beautiful, Montessori-code colored continents.  Using a blue sheet “ocean” background, the kids (featured in all the photos in this post) used the map to recreate a world continent map of their own.

The process involved talking about colors and especially shapes, and having the kids recreate the shapes using gestures and their bodies themselves.  Once they were able to conceptualize the shape and form of each continent, I asked them to place those continents on to the blue sheet.   I asked them to try to remember the position of each continent in relation to the others, and to space them as correctly as possible.  We then looked at the world map as an answer key to see how correctly they had “re-created the world.”

Only some minor corrections were necessary; the kids had done a great job of memorizing the shapes and the disposition of our world’s continents!  Africa and South America needed to be moved farther apart – yet by widening “the Atlantic Ocean”, I was able to throw in a quick lesson in plate tectonics.   They then had fun putting the Africa and South America pieces together and then taking them apart, like puzzle pieces, further internalizing the concept of plate tectonics.

Below is a photo of a plate tectonic lesson taught in English to 6-7 year olds in a Czech school.

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(I can’t wait to do some lessons on paleontology and Earth history with them!  Especially since we all know how much kids are fascinated by dinosaurs.)

After our “yoga mat continent map” was finished, we identified some countries – especially big, “visually prominent” ones, first on the world map and then on the yoga-mat continent map with the blue sheet.

Then the kids looked at yoga positions on a brown yoga mat nearby, which I had reserved for that purpose.  They immediately started to copy the various positions on the mat.   There was little for me to do except to check that their backs were straight, that their yoga “shapes” were correct, and that they were breathing deeply and regularly.

Finally, we put it all together.  We made a game of “Geography Twister” using body parts – first in German, and then in English.  The kids had to put various body parts on various continents in specific areas on those continents (of course, vocabulary like “east / west / north, south” were used for this purpose as well.)

The results produced various yoga positions, reinforcement of their knowledge of world continents, countries and cardinal points, and lots of laughter.

There are thousands of ways to teach, learn,  and have fun in the process! As I saw on the day of this outdoor lesson, “Geography Yoga” is one of them.

The next lesson – with a foam puzzle floor map of the world – had the kids identifying the continents once again, but this time also the countries.  The map is made of foam and is a puzzle with over 250 pieces.  You know how kids love puzzles! They put it together joyfully and in the process, learned the name and position of many countries.  They were able to show me how they traveled across the Middle East to Germany.  We talked about time differences.  I asked applied questions about time and daily activities across the globe.  The kids were fascinated by the fact that my mother back in Los Angeles was just waking up, while we were finishing a late afternoon lesson… or that a Russian child in Moscow was having breakfast, while a Russian child in Vladivostock was going to bed!

This map is almost the same size as the hand-made Montessori color continent map we assembled and used today, but detailed with every country and the country flag.

More yoga and geography  is pictured below.   Kids sure love to move! They sure love colors!  They sure love to act on the following commands: “Put your left food on Australia and your right foot on Japan.  Put both your hands on north Brazil.  Keep a straight back.” The result, of course, is the yoga position “downward dog”.

I can’t wait to do this lesson again and the kids are looking forward to it as well!

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Can we go NOW??? Workshop auf Englisch und Theater in der Gymnasium Carl-von-Ossietzky, Bonn

https://cvo-bonn.de/index.php/lernen-und-leben/news-archiv-schuljahr-16-17/126-can-we-go-now

Can we go NOW???

Workshop auf Englisch und Theater in der Gymnasium Carl-von-Ossietzky, Bonn

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Die 5c bekam vor kurzem in zwei Doppelstunden ihres Englischunterrichts Besuch von Evie Prentoulis. Evie ist in den USA und in England aufgewachsen und führt regelmäßig Workshops mit Kindern durch. Dabei legt sie Wert darauf, dass die Kinder viel über ihre beiden Heimatländer erfahren und vor allem Spaß haben.

Die Schülerinnen erlernten zum Beispiel zwei kleine Sketche und durften dabei in allerlei Verkleidungen schlüpfen. In einem der Sketche geht es um einen vollbesetzten Bus mit allerlei skurrilen Personen wie zum Beispiel einer Astronautin, einen Feuerwehrmann, ein Cowgirl oder einen Piloten. Alle diese Personen haben allerdings etwas vergessen und auf die ständige Frage des Busfahrers: “Can we go NOW?“ folgt stets ein “Stop! Wait! I forgot my fire extinguisher“ oder “Stop! Wait! I forgot my cowboy hat“ usw. Als der Busfahrer am Ende endlich losfahren kann, merkt er, dass er seinen Schlüssel verloren hat.

Die Kinder lernten aber auch die Geographie der USA und Londons anhand zweier 3D-Modelle besser kennen und erarbeiteten sich Informationen zu wichtigen Persönlichkeiten wie Abraham Lincoln, Eleanore Roosevelt und Sherlock Holmes. Aber auch die Freiheitsstatue, das Weiße Haus oder Big Ben wurden von einzelnen Schülerinnen und Schülern vorgestellt. Wer weiß zum Beispiel schon, dass allein der Zeigefinger der amerikanischen Freiheitsstatue 2,44 Meter lang ist?

Neben der landeskundlichen Erweiterung ihres Wissens spricht Evie natürlich nur Englisch, so dass alle Kinder die Gelegenheit bekamen, die englische Sprache als notwendiges Kommunikationsmittel zu erfahren und diese Möglichkeit auch begeistert nutzten.

Die Ergebnisse des Workshops konnten sich dann auch die Eltern der 5c auf ihrem Klassenfest anschauen, wo es zu einer kurzen Präsentation kam.

 

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Fest der Kulturen, (Multicultural Festival), Bonn, May 2017

Volunteering as a children’s animator with the NGO Plan International – which helps girls world-wide to get a better education.  What a fun day it was at Bonn’s annual Fest der Kulturen –

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