Christmas – as good a time as any to discuss ethics with children –

good versus evil 2

Good versus Evil: For this Christmas season, I used this theme, complete with angels and devils, forces of good and evil, to teach my students affirmative and negative commands in English. Storyline: a blind beggar, fast asleep, unknowingly receives some gold coins from a generous passerby. A poor woman with many children at home and no money for Christmas presents comes by and sees the coins. While she deliberates, the angels say “Don’t do it! Don’t take the money! Don’t …” while the devils counter “Do it! Take the money! etc. ” Initially, she takes the money but she returns later, out of remorse, wakes up the beggar and confesses. He gives her half the money and wishes her a merry Christmas. My students and I discussed the ethics of this kind of situation, and the right moral choice to make. All in English!

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Halloween: fortune-telling, vampires and witches, brain pudding and eating “land shrimp” –

img_3828

Fortune telling – only 100 czech crowns (4 euros) per question!

I gave a lesson around Halloween time involving the future tense, with a complete Fortune Telling business – only four euros per question! Every child has a role (not fixed, rotated): a secretary for writing the questions, another for writing the various answers, a cashier, two fortune-tellers, a “cook” whose “soup” contains some of the answers, a “turtle-whisperer” whose turtle is named Nostradamus, a crystal-ball interpreter, two witches, and of course, some knowledge-hungry customers. Everyone contributes to the questions and answers. Roles are rotated to avoid monotony and to have fun while including all kinds of verbs, nouns, adjectives, geographical locations, famous people, facts and principles from various school subjects so the children remember what they learned in their lessons with their classroom teacher. All in English!

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Above:  Halloween is a great way for children to learn not to be afraid of the images associated with death.  Mexico’s Day of the Dead is a good example of this.  Next year I will introduce the Day of the Dead to my students; this year I focused on some of the more American stapes of Halloween: Count Dracula in his coffin, the Grim Reaper by his side, and their teacher as a witch ;), eating vanilla pudding from a brain mold and making “witch soup” in a cauldron.

 

first-grader-as-zombie-chef-with-zombie-restaurant-menu-copy

In another Halloween lesson, I created a “Zombie Restaurant” complete with both real and imaginary dishes from around the world. The students had to look at a powerpoint presentation of various dishes and vote which ones were actually real.  Some of the real dishes included various stir-fried insects from Thailand, grasshoppers from Mexico, snails and frogs’ legs from France, fried bats from New Guinea. We discussed nutrition, personal tastes and the concept of an open mind.  We also talked about what hot-dogs and chicken nuggets from fast-food restaurants are really made of.  The point here was not to convert children into eating strange and foreign things for their own sake, but to not be quick to dismiss them or at least to understand the idea that what seems “gross” to us can be a delicacy to someone else… and that some of those strange foods are actually full of nutritional value and certainly healthier than the fat, salt and processing that goes into making a hot-dog!  Some aspects of the animal treatment behind the making fast food and processed food was also discussed.

At the end of the class, one child cleverly suggested that insects were “land shrimp” … and most of us will agree that shrimp are delicious!

Posted in Christmas, Halloween, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

IMG_1633IMG_1640IMG_1659IMG_1658IMG_1729

Posted in Children, Drama, English, History, Montessori Pedagogy, Performance, Science, Toys Dolls and Puppets, Uncategorized, World Culture | Leave a comment

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

This gallery contains 25 photos.

Gallery | Leave a comment

Teaching kids geography and history with Napoleon, Wellington and Metternich

This gallery contains 15 photos.

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

Gallery | Leave a comment

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

 

 

 

Posted in Children, Drama, English, French, History, Performance, Public speaking, Teaching, Toys Dolls and Puppets, Uncategorized, World Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Geography Yoga with children –

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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, finally cutting those out, to produce 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.

plate-tectonics-for-six-year-olds

(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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

Posted in Children, Drama, English, English and British history, French, geography, geometry, History, London, mathematics, Montessori Pedagogy, Public speaking, Science, Spanish, Teaching, Uncategorized, World Culture, world travel | Leave a comment