April 13, 2013

Activity Ideas for Practicing Vocabulary and Structures

Teachers on the FLTEACH, Ñandutí, MFLResources, and MoreTPRS listservs often share activity ideas with each other. Here are some ideas for activities and games that practice targeted vocabulary and structures:

I like to do a very simplified form of info gap activity. I call it info guess. It keeps the language very limited so that the students practice one word or phrase over and over in the form of a partner guessing game. I use this with 2nd-5th graders and have used it with 6th as well. The beauty of this activity is that no one finishes early and once coached, the kids know what to do and minimal explanation is required. The activity is easy to make using word and clip art. At first, I model the activity--teacher against the class, so the students know what I expect.

Here is an example of a possible info guess activity.
 I want the students to practice "tiene miedo" [he/she is scared] so I make a sheet with the words ¿Tiene miedo . . . . ? in larger print. Below, I make a grid of 6-10 pictures of different animals or people from who they can choose. I label these. (La maestra, Justin Beiber, el león, el lobo, la niña, el oso, Hannah Montana, Bob Esponja, etc)
So, the first partner picks a character on the sheet but doesn't tell his/her partner who/what he picked. Then, that person (partner 2) has a certain number of guesses to guess which picture partner 1 has picked. The pair conversation would go like this ideally. "Tiene miedo el leon? [Is the lion scared?] No, el leon no tiene miedo. [No, the lion isn’t scared] Tiene miedo Bob Esponja? No no tiene miedo. Tiene miedo la maestra? Si, la maestra tiene miedo." I tell the kids that if they guess within 4 guesses, they get a point. If not, their partner can get a point, but only if they say the sentence in Spanish, telling who is scared. I let them play about 3-5 minutes and usually have time to listen to almost everyone. I circulate the room and compliment students who are doing a great job staying in target language (stickers help too).

Denbeaux, S. Re: [nandu] Pair Activities (Let's Brainstorm!). Improving Early Language Programs listerv (nandu@caltalk.cal.org, 5 Mar 2013).

Another cool game I made up is recycling jar lids and writing questions on them. I put them in a box decorated and named "el Lago de Preguntas" and attach a magnet to an old toy fishing rod (anything will do). Kids take turns "fishing for a question, they all have white boards and write their answers. 2 points for perfect complete sentence response, 1 pt for a correct response but not perfect. Of course they have to read their responses out loud too.
Kids love it and the repetition of questions is very effective.

Coppinger-Fraser, M. RE: [nandu] ideas for games for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Improving Early Language Programs listerv (nandu@caltalk.cal.org, 23 Mar 2013).

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