Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Crazy Animals And Other Activities

There are many books of activities for teaching English in the primary classroom, but this book is different.

Edited by Fiona Copland and Sue Garton with Monika Davis, by British Council, "Crazy animals and other activities for teaching English to young learners" is different because all the activities have been tried and tested by the very people who are going to use them, teachers like you. These teachers work in the most diverse contexts and conditions, sometimes with large classes, sometimes with very small groups, sometimes with every type of resource you could wish for, sometimes with only a board to support their teaching.

There are 50 tried and trusted activities which have been refined and improved over the years by teachers working in diverse contexts and environments. Children will enjoy practising their English through these stimulating and motivating activities.

"However, they share a desire to help their students to learn English in an enjoyable way. We imagine you too share this desire and that is why you have picked this book. We hope you find the activities useful, engaging and fun too, and enjoy using them in your class". (Introduction).

Friday, February 17, 2017

BEE-BOT is a perfect proposal to tell stories and start teaching control, directional language and programming, from 3 and up to 7 years.

What is BEE-BOT?

BEE-BOT is a Bee Robot. It is an educational material designed to develop the basic capabilities of programming, and its implications: spatial location and cognition, motor and perception, logic and strategy.

It consists of a bee-robot whose movements are made at angles of ninety degrees, and that must be programmed to achieve a coherent sequence on each template. Thus, with proper programming, the bee-robot can spell a word, make a sum, each time it stops in a space, depending on the alphabet template or numbers that come with the Bee Bot. Then, the templates can be changed for any activity that the educator decides.


It has been specially designed for being used in the early stage of  Primary students.

Features include:
  • Sounds and eyes that allow students to know they have entered their intermittent instructions.
  • The ability to recall up to 40 instructions / steps introduced by students;
  • The ability to move accurately in measures of 15cm so that they are converted in increments of 90 °.
  • Bright buttons for students to use input instructions.
  • Robust and small design.
  • Size: 13cm x 10cm x 7cm.
  • Clear and bright buttons.
  • Memory for more than 40 steps.
  • No confusion in the different degrees of programming.
  • Sounds and flashing eyes to confirm instructions.
  • Fantastic resources and inter-curricular and transdisciplinary activities.

This week we have played with our friendly and easy-to-operate robots the Bee-Bots, in our sessions of the Sharing to Learn program. (In My School is Cool blog)

The students of grade 4 and the Language Assistants had a great time programming the bees to complete a task that was really challenging!

They had to "give" instructions to the "Bee" through the instructions pannel (placed on the back of the bee) to drive the robot to follow up a short shopping-list task on the Street mat.

The task was: 

I'm at home
1. First, I want to buy some flowers for my mum's birthday
2. Then, I must buy apples and bananas to prepare my baby sister porridge.
3. Then, I can go to the park for a while.
4. Finally, I go back home.

Can you drive the Bee-bot through the Street mat and complete the task?

Have a look at the photos and the short video.  It was a great thinking time!

From the American School of Milan

For more information visit the BEE-BOP home page

Monday, February 06, 2017

Video Prompts for Young Learners of English

I remember myself preparing (not only in primary, but also in higher levels) extensive worksheets with vocabulary and grammar questions before to work with a video clip in my classroom. I thought this was the right way to pre teach unknown words and chunks of grammar and to prepare global understanding.

Fortunately, I changed my view of how to work with videos in the ESL class. Teaching is not spending few hours trying to find a good pedagogical exercise to keep your students sat on their chairs!

I'm fond of using videos in my primary classes (from 8 year olds), especially the ones that gets the children attention for the ingenuity and its realistic relevance, and because they captivate their interest!

I use them as prompts for speaking. By watching these videos children will want to know and talk more about and, what’s more they will encourage them to feel a greater motivation to speak in English.

Here are a few videos you can use as prompts to start a conversation, a short dialogue or just to elicit short sentences about them.

And do not miss the paper at the end of the post. It is a very interesting experience of English language learning by 10 years children attending the last year of primary school and in particular an extra curricular project focused on oral skills.

Bridge (Ting Chian Tey) In this short funny animated film characters are only concerned with their own needs, forgetting the importance of understanding and respecting the rights of others.

The Butterfly Circus (2009) Short film of 21 minutes starring Nick Vujicic. 
It uses the magic of cinema to show that the limitations of human beings are in their minds.

Doll Face (2005) It is ideal for teenagers who are constantly pressured to meet female stereotypes shown in the mass media.

Idiots. It is a criticism of consumerism and sedentary lifestyle caused by technology.

Monsterbox. It is an emotional and tender animation about friendship.

Changing Batteries. It is a sad story about an old woman that live alone with a robot.

Chicken or The Egg.Short offbeat cartoon about a pig who has an addiction to eating eggs. But when he falls for a chicken, you have to choose what comes first ... the chicken or the egg.

Empathise. Animated short about adopting an animal responsibly.

There are many more, of course! But I'll leave you to find them in the net!

Really interesting!

Sunday, February 05, 2017

1000 Images on the Tip of my Tongue

1000 images on the tip of my tongue is an interactive site focusing on idiomatic expressions that have the same meaning in French, English and Spanish, but cannot be translated word for word.

This trilingual directory provides more than 3000 idiomatic expressions classified according to themes. Each of them is inserted into a short text which illustrates its meaning and has a corresponding audio file. Listening to the file helps situate the learner in a real context which contributes to a better overall understanding.
1000 images on the tip of my tongue

The site also includes exercises and games as well as brief, humorous animations which contribute to the discovery of the fascinating world of colourful expressions.

This instructional material has been designed not only for English, French and Spanish second language courses but also for translation courses taught throughout Québec colleges.