A CHRISTMAS TALE TO WORK ON CLASS WITH CHILDREN AGED FIVE, SIX OR SEVEN.

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1 A CHRISTMAS TALE TO WORK ON CLASS WITH CHILDREN AGED FIVE, SIX OR SEVEN. TEXT BY AINA TRIAS ROCA PICTURES BY JOSEP QUETGLAS CONTI INFORMATIC SUPPORT: PERE DIETRICH

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS ( The Sad snowman) 1.- Objectives Sequence Treatment of the basic competences Contents and activities divided into sessions Introduction Session One Session Two Session Three Session Four Session Five Evaluation Diversity in the classroom. 21 2

3 1. O B J E C T I V E S The students will be able to: 1.- Act out the story. 2.- Understand the story, discovering and deducing new meanings, without translation. 3.- Repeat the story, with visual aids, matching words and pictures (oral activity). 4.- Combine body language and oral language (dramatising the poem). 5.- Follow the instructions given by the teacher when arts and crafts are being made, following a sequence of actions that would imply manipulation (pinch, roll, press...). 6.- Participate in games and activities respecting the other students. 7.- Once the vocabulary and new structures are learned, take them out of the context and use them in a different one. 2. S E Q U E N CE The whole activity will last 5-6 sessions. Not all of them last the same time. It depends on the activities. In the sessions with short activities, teachers can add some others aspects, such as songs, games, videos... It does not matter if they are not related to the story. Sometimes students need to do different things. We must take into account that talking about a snowman or Father Christmas all the time can be a little bit boring. A suggestion is to start the class with the story and follow the plan. Later, if there is more time, do other things. The sessions have been planned to last 45 minutes. If this time is not filled with the story or its activities, the teachers should do something else. Do not try to do two sessions in one just because there is enough time left. Even if the teacher has time left; it is hard work for the students to assimilate so many things in one session. 3

4 3. TREATMENT OF THE BASIC COMPETENCES If we understand a basic competence as the capacity of a student to apply his acquired knowledge, we may notice that the planned objectives in this project are implicitly included in seven competences which students are supposed to attain during their learning process. We will explicitly analyse them in each session, relating each of the suggested activities to the elaborated competences. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that in a piece of work such as this EFL didactic unit, two competences will have priority ( the linguistic and auditory and the artistic and cultural competences ). However, the methodological competences acquire a fundamental role due to the special development of the stories and the great amount of group-activities which are proposed. We are referring to the competence of learning to learn. Also the personal type of competences have a place in the project since it is intended that the student will investigate, predict, deduce and find out for himself some structures and meanings in an autonomous way ( competence of the autonomy and personal initiative ). The location in the physical space (the way the story is told), and the logical mental structure that children need to deduce and connect the meaning with the words can be worked through the mathematical competence. And finally, it is important to include as well those competences which refer to the peaceful co-existence ( social and civic competence and competence in the knowledge and interaction in the physical world ). We must not forget that this didactic unit is based in stories bearing to different festivals related to the British culture. It is meant to immerse you in the English culture by means of the festivities British people celebrate. Moreover the identification with the characters together with a respect for their own traditions and language will be one of the mainstays of the whole didactic unit. 4

5 4. CONTENTS AND ACTIVITIES DIVIDED INTO SESSIONS 4.1 Introduction. The idea is to tell a Christmas story, and work on it over several sessions (the month of December is suitable), through different activities. As a starting point, we tell the story, without visual aids and using drama as a warm-up. Later, a lot of related activities (poem, games, arts and crafts...) are done and at the end the children have learnt the story and they are able to tell it in English. If you are a teacher who wants to try this kind of approach in your classroom but have got another objective because you think it is very difficult to use this kind of methodology with your pupils, you can adapt the project to your objectives. If you are not interested in making the children tell the story themselves (maybe you do not have enough time to do it), you can work on the activities as well, changing some of them and focusing your work on learning the vocabulary and enjoying listening to the story. Personally, I suggest that the teachers try working on the story with their main objective being to make the children speak in English. Give them the chance to talk, to act, to feel the story as it was their own. You may think they are not prepared but in the end you will be surprised: they can do it. In each session, a bit of the story is worked on, but it does not last the whole session. Use other activities to complete the lesson. However, in two sessions the whole lesson (30-40 minutes) will be needed. If you do not have such long sessions, you can divide them in two. There are five sessions in the project, and it has been planned to start the first week of December. Plan your work taking into account the length of time of your classes. While you are working on this story, with your little students (remember that this story is suitable for 5 year-olds and the first cycle of Primary), you or the English teacher teaching in third cycle, can teach the play, a long version of the same story. The last day before the Christmas holidays, the students of 6 th level can act it out for the ones who have been working on the project. The results are excellent, because the younger students are familiar with the story: they understand what is happening, know the characters...they really enjoy the play, and the oldest enjoy it as well because they love doing drama. There is a copy of the long version for the third cycle at the end of this project along with some suggestions for the setting. Use it! 5

6 4.2 S E S S I O N 1 CONTENTS: Act out the story The sad Snowman without any visual aids. Repetition of structures. TIME: Ten minutes. ACTIVITIES: 1.- Start the class using the routines that you normally follow: greetings, songs, poems, puppets... Use a routine to start a story. 2.- Put the children in the story corner (if you have one, or wherever you normally tell stories): Sit them in a semicircle, so that everyone can see you. Make sure all the children are paying attention, and start the story, stopping every time you finish a sentence and giving them the chance to repeat what you say and to do what you have done. Remember: If you want the children to talk, you have to... stop! Do not forget to repeat each sentence, just to make sure all the children are involved in the story. Use a distinctive voice for each character, and a low voice for the narrator. In fact, the children do not need to repeat narration, and this is only useful for organising the story in time. Do not forget body language: use a different movement or gesture for each message. Make simple movements, because the children have to repeat them. To place the characters, use the plans you will find at the beginning of each piece. The teacher, followed by the students, acts out all the characters, so the children know which character he/she is at each moment, according to his/her position. 6

7 STORY: T H E SAD S N O W M A N Scene one: Position of the characters (the teacher moves to change character. Children repeat all the characters voices, but they do not move): Boy Narrator Girl Narrator: Once upon a time, two children were playing. It was Christmas Eve. Suddenly, it began to snow... Boy and girl: -Wow! It s snowing! Boy: -Let s make a snowman! Girl: -I ve got two buttons to make the eyes, a carrot to make the nose. Boy: -I ve got a sausage to make the mouth. Narrator: Then, mummy called them in for dinner. Boy and girl: -Goodbye, snowman! Scene two: Position of characters: Narrator Snowman Narrator: The snowman is sad. Snowman: -I m sad, I m sad, I m very sad... Scene three: Position of characters: Father Christmas Narrator Snowman Narrator: Father Christmas arrives. Sshh! The children are sleeping. Father Christmas: -This present is for you. (He pretends to leave a present for the sleeping children). This present is for you. (Now he sees the snowman and goes next to him). Snowman: -I m sad, I m sad. I m very sad... Father Christmas: -This scarf is for you. 7

8 Snowman: -Thank you. I m happy! I m happy! I m very happy! T H E E N D If you have time, and you think the children are not tired, repeat the story (in fact, it is a very simple and short one). They do not have to learn the story, only repeat the dialogues using mime and different voices. That is all. 8

9 4.3 S E S S I O N T W O CONTENTS: Act out the story with a few visual aids. Repetition of the dialogue with comprehension of those words with visual aids. Vocabulary: o -New vocabulary (with visual aid): scarf, present, snowman, Father Christmas, buttons. o -Recycled vocabulary (vocabulary they already know, from other stories...perhaps this is new for your students, but, normally, they have learnt the parts of the face. It is a good idea to add some old vocabulary in new stories: in this way, children feel confident. They know some words, they understand right from the beginning): eyes, nose, mouth. MATERIAL: Father Christmas hats (if possible, one for each child; if not, one for the teacher), a snowman (made with two cardboard boxes), a plastic or real carrot, buttons, a scarf, a plastic sausage, a present (a wrapped box) and Father Christmas sack. TIME: minutes. ACTIVITIES: 1.- Tell the story in the same way you did the day before, but this time introduce some of the visual aids. Put the two boxes making the shape of a snowman near you, and when you are acting the sentence: -Let s make a snowman!, point to the boxes. When you are acting: -I ve got two buttons to make the eyes..., you ll have two real buttons in your pocket, show them to the children and stick them on the snowman s head. Continue doing the same with the carrot (it is for the snowman s nose). To fix the carrot on the snowman s face, make a small hole in the box before starting the class. Then, you can put the carrot through it easily. When you stick on the plastic sausage, for the mouth, make sure you stick it (with blue tack ) pointing down, because, remember, the snowman is sad. 9

10 Put on the Father Christmas hat when you pretend to be Father Christmas. You have Father Christmas sack and, inside, the scarf and the presents for the children. In the sentence -This present is for you, take the presents out of your sack, show them to the children and leave them on the floor, near the imaginary sleeping children. In the sentence -This scarf is for you, take the scarf out of your sack and put it on the snowman, round its neck, and at the same time, turn the plastic sausage over in order to make a happy smile. Now, the snowman is happy because it has a scarf. 2.- If you consider that the children are not tired and are quite involved in the story, repeat it. This time, ask for some volunteers to make the snowman s face. If you want, tell only the part of the story where the snowman is being made. 3.- Poem. The poem should be told at the beginning of the class and repeated at the end. In this way, it helps to place the children in time. If you make the poem part of your routine, and from this day, repeat it at the beginning and at the end, the children will understand the moment English time starts and when it finishes. This feature gives children confidence. 10

11 Stand in front of the children and say to them: It s time for a poem and move your arms touching your hips rhythmically, just to keep their attention. When all of them are doing the same as you, start the poem, stopping at each line in order to let the children repeat what you have said. You should mime what you say at the same time you tell the poem. Use melody or rhythm in your voice, in order to help them to memorise the words. Do not use any visual aids. It is better for them to memorise the poem, little by little, not all in one day, but instead by repeating the poem in each session. Another day, when they almost know the poem by heart, bring a scarf and act out the poem with it. If you want them to be motivated, let them have a scarf and go to another class and act out the poem. They love doing things for others, having an audience. P O E M : T H E S N O W M A N I m a little snowman Short and fat It s very cold And I don t have a scarf Father Christmas said: Don t be sad I ve got a scarf for you In my sack! 11

12 4.4 S E S S I O N T H R E E CONTENTS The poem. Repetition. The story with flashcards. Comprehension. Repetition of structures: It s snowing, Let s make a snowman, This present is for you, I m happy, I m sad. Flashcard games: comprehension, and use of the structures and vocabulary. Taking the new vocabulary out of context: scarf, present, Father Christmas, snowman. Use of recycled vocabulary: eyes, nose, mouth, thank you, pencil, book, flower (if this vocabulary is new for your students, maybe it would be better to change it for another one which is more familiar to them, because there are already enough words to learn. You can use any other vocabulary they already know). MATERIAL Six flashcards, related to the story (see attached document) Two flashcards I m happy, I m sad Everyday objects: a scarf, a pencil, a book, a flower... (any already known vocabulary) TIME minutes. ACTIVITIES. 1.- Poem. Start the class by repeating the poem, using mime and a rhythmical voice (you can put music to it, if you like...) 12

13 2.- Telling the story with the flashcards. Tell the story again, this time without any acting out. Children sit down in a circle with the teacher, and tell the story, showing the flashcards. Show the picture for only a few seconds before saying the appropriate sentence. In this time the children can predict the sentence, because they have heard and repeated it several times. If you consider this too difficult, show the picture and start the sentence (e.g. It s...) and the children continue (...snowing ). In the attached document there are the six pictures that summarise the story. These pictures are the reference for the children. In the picture corresponding to the sentence Let s make a snowman, you can add I ve got two buttons to make the eyes. I ve got a carrot to make the nose, I ve got a sausage to make the mouth. The parts of the face are recycled vocabulary, and will be easy for students to remember. If your students have not learnt the parts of the face, say them anyway. Point to your face to show what a nose, a mouth and eyes are. Some of the students can remember the words. If some cannot, it does not matter. The sentence Let s make a snowman is enough. (See Diversity in the classroom ). 3.- Flashcard games. Play memory games with the six flashcards. Turn the pictures over, and say Where is I m sad? The children have to find it. Ordering the story. Put the pictures facing up. Say the first sentence It s snowing. Children look for the correct picture. Place it in the first position. Continue with the rest of the pictures, until you get the whole story in order. I m happy/ I m sad game. The purpose of this game is to use the structures I m happy / I m sad in another context, different from the story. Now we are not snowmen, we are happy or sad boys and girls. Mime with the children I m happy. You can add I m very happy just to give the children a higher level. Then, show the flashcard with a happy face. Do the same with I m sad, I m very sad. Shuffle as many cards (half of them with a happy face and the other half with a sad face) as you have students until they say stop. Do 13

14 not show the top card to the children. Ask one child: What s this? (if the child does not answer, you can help him/her: I m happy or I m sad? ). If the child guesses the card you have on top, give it to him/her and do the same with another child and with the other card. If the child does not guess the card, give him/her another chance. Remember: Take into account that, in a game, and mainly in Nursery school, children always win. If they do not know the answer, give them another chance, or help them until they win. In this way, they feel confident because they know how to play a game...in English, and they succeed! When all the students have got a card (happy or sad), say: Happy cards, stand up! (Remember: do what you say; so you have to take a happy card and stand up. Repeat with the sad cards. Play any games implying TPR. Remind the children to bring a scarf for the next session. 14

15 4.5 S E S S I O N F O U R CONTENTS. The poem. Repetition and comprehension. Structures: This present is for you (taking this expression out of the story: comprehension and use) Revising: I m happy/i m sad, present, scarf, thank you. Recycled vocabulary: eyes, nose, mouth and colours, present, pencil, book. Back to the story: matching messages with pictures. Comprehension. The structure of the story: sequencing it. MATERIAL: Real things: a present, a pencil, a scarf, a book. Six sheets for each child (half the size of a standard sheet) with the pictures related to the story drawn on them (a copy of the pictures they had in the flashcards used as a visual aid for the story) / Or sheet Concertina Book. TIME: minutes. ACTIVITIES: 1.- Act out the poem, this time with a real scarf the children have brought from home. Put your scarf on the floor near you and when you say this part of the poem: I ve got a scarf for you, take the scarf and put it around your neck. The children do the same. 2.- Game: This present is for you. Let s play a game to work on this structure. This time we use it in another context, different to that of the story. Make a big circle with the whole class. Stand in the middle with a present (a wrapped box). Stretch your right arm towards the 15

16 children, as shown in the picture, and have the present in your left hand. The children walk around in a circle and at the same time, say (very slowly): This present is for you. When you say you, the children stop walking and the child pointed at by you should say: Thank you and take the present. Then this child is now in the middle. He takes something else (use recycled vocabulary), e.g. a pencil, a book, a scarf... and does the same. Stand next to the child in the middle in order to help him/her. The children who get a present (pencil, scarf, book...) sit down inside the circle. You can use as much recycled vocabulary as you want. Stop when you consider that the children are tired. 3.- Making the book/ Concertina book. Give the six pictures or the worksheet with the Concertina book (see annex...) to each child. 16

17 They have to put them in the right order as in the story. We can help them by saying the sentence that refers to each picture. For example, we say: It s snowing and the children show the correct picture to the class and to the teacher. If it is correct, they write the number one (1) in the circle on the picture. Children do the same with the other pictures. Then, they can colour in one item in each picture (the snowman, the scarf, Father Christmas, the present...), because it takes a long time to colour in all the pictures. If they like painting, they can finish this with their tutor, but not in English class because there is no reason or objective for doing this. The aim of this activity is to put the story, in chronological order, and match the words with the pictures, and, once they have put the book together, it will be a useful tool for telling the story in English to their teacher, family, friends, etc. To colour the book, you can work on listening or on speaking. To emphasise the listening activity, the teacher gives the colour instructions; to emphasise speaking, the students colour in the book as they like and later they are asked to tell the whole class what colours they have used. At the end of the class, the teacher collects all the pictures. Optional: The children can go to another classroom with their scarf to perform the poem for the other children. They like having an audience, doing something for somebody, so they will enjoy this activity. 17

18 4.6 S E S S I O N F I V E CONTENTS: Arts and crafts: A Christmas card: The snowman. New vocabulary: INSTRUCTIONS: take, pinch, roll, press, plasticine. Recycled vocabulary: colours, body, scarf. MATERIAL: Plasticine (in different colours) Sheet of cardboard with the figure of a snowman TIME: 20 minutes. ACTIVITIES: 1.- Give out the pieces of cardboard (if possible, dark blue, to represent the sky in winter) with the figure of a snowman, to the children. Also give them some bars of plasticine. Have your own cardboard and plasticine. Stick your card on the board and start giving instructions and doing these actions at the same time. E.g.: Pinch a piece of white plasticine like mine, and roll it, making a ball. Place the ball on the snowman s head. (Remember that you are doing it at the same time, showing your work to the students and giving them time to do the same). Press the plasticine with your fingers. Now the ball is flat, can you see? And all the snowman s head is covered with white plasticine. Now, pinch another piece of plasticine, this time a bit bigger and roll it. Make a big ball. Place the plasticine on the snowman s body and press (...) Look at the snowman, he s got a white body and a white head. Now let s make the eyes. Pinch a small piece of blue plasticine, like mine, and roll it... 18

19 Go on until you have made a plasticine snowman (see picture in the attached document). You can add some rock salt on the cardboard and stick it with bright glue. When this kind of glue is dried it glitters. So you can add the glue all over the card. The effect is really nice. I recommend you do this yourself, not with the children, because it is a bit complicated for them. When you have finished the card, you can use it as the cover for the book. You have to bind their books (schools have special tools for it) using the Christmas card as the cover. It would be a nice surprise for them. Encourage the children to tell the story at home with their book. They will enjoy it. They are able to tell a story in English. They have made their own story-book...they feel confident using English. They have succeeded! 19

20 5 E V A L U A T I O N The following will be evaluated: Participation, involvement in the story. Repetition of the dialogues. Oral and mime repetition of the poem. Participation in the games. If the children participate, they get involved in the situation: they learn from all the situations. The story as a whole. Comprehension of the story, through the elaboration of the story book. Check if the students have numbered the pictures in the correct order. The acquisition of new vocabulary and structures. Check if they understand the games. Telling the story with the visual aids. It takes a long time to listen to each student telling the story. If you want to do this, you can let your students colour in the whole story book; meanwhile, you can call each one in turn and listen to them individually. If this takes too long, there is another way to do it. Let the parents do it. Send them the summary of the story, in Catalan, with a note explaining that their children are going to tell them the same story, but in English. Afterwards the parents sign the note explaining their impressions about the story and how the children have told it. Saying the poem. The children will be able to repeat the poem and act it out at the same time, just to give life to the poem and also rhythm and comprehension. Arts and crafts. We evaluate the capacity the children have for following the instructions. We do not evaluate the comprehension of the verbs used in the instruction (pinch, roll...), because it is not an objective of this unit; what we must take into account are the strategies students develop to follow the instructions the teacher gives them (copying the teacher/other students, the logic used to make the plasticine snowman, etc.). If, at the end of this class, they succeed in making the snowman, the objective has been achieved. Note that all the items that will be evaluated belong to oral activities. 20

21 6 DIVERSITY IN THE CLASSROOM Adapting this kind of story for children with a lower level is not a difficult task. We can distinguish between two different activities: Group activities. The greater part of the activities are done in a big group (class group), such as acting out the story, saying the poem, the games, making the book... In all these activities all the students can do the same. They just have to imitate what the teacher says, what the teacher does. Children with a lower level can also look at their friends, and imitate them. In this way, they do not get lost and can follow the activity. Maybe they do not understand the English language used at that moment, but they are working like the others. In this case, understanding the oral English is not the objective, because it is too difficult for them. Our objective as teachers is to enable the children to follow the activities. In all the oral games where the objective is to deduce the word or to work on a structure (e.g. This pencil is for you ),the teacher can help them by saying the word they have to use, and the objective for them is to be able to repeat the word or structure the teacher says, instead of deducing or guessing it. Individual activities. In activities like telling the story with their story book, the same structures are not required for all the children. For the children with a lower level, it will be enough if they are able to say a word related to the picture. For instance, in picture number one, showing the children, happily playing in the snow, the children say It s snowing, and the children with a lower level could say snowing. This will be correct, because they understand something, although they do not know how to say it. One word per picture will be fine. In other words, all the children work on the same story and on the same activities. What is different is the evaluation. But the key point is that all of them learn something from the story: some learn a new story, with new vocabulary and structures. They learn how and when to use it, and they are able to tell it in English. Others learn by imitating the teacher, they also learn a few words and some structures, they are able to say some words related to the story and they understand them. Everybody improves his/her own linguistic competence, according to his/her level. 21

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