I sometimes refer to my English classes as my English club/party/free for all, since that's what they often end up being. There are just so many things to do in one hour and a half lesson, sooo many tiny little ones to herd into place, each time we form a circle or a line of children. I work up a bit of a sweat and end up worn out but happy every time.
This last lesson was right before St Patrick's Day, with around 20 children, I think. We did this:
Sing "Hello, Hello"
Sing "If you're happy and you know it" : Wendy's extra special extended version
Gather in a circle and I give a wee talk on St. Patrick's Day, food, the map, the traditions, the shamrock, the leprechaun, etc, for about 6 minutes or so until I see that their wee attention spans are wandering. Gleaned heavily from Wikipedia, except the picture of the Chicago River dyed green which is from flicker. I talk about how all of the children were born in Japan, and have Japanese parents and heritage, but how most Americans have ancestors that were from another country, and so have different kinds of heritage - a melting pot. I talk about how we all like to imagine that we have a little Irish in us, on this day.
Does. Not. Compute. :)
The mothers get quiet and thoughtful. Hmm... Americans....??
Then I read a story which was really lame but a free printable book from an online preschool source, called "I am a leprechaun". Dumb. But that's ok, they still crowd around, practically on my lap, to see this book. I often spend time at the library scouring the limited book selection on the base, looking for just that interesting, smart, well-illustrated children's book that will interest them and make them laugh, while teaching them. Ha! That is asking alot of a book. Perhaps unreasonable. All of the 3 Saint Patrick's day books on the base were checked out for two weeks ahead of time.
At the end of the book it tells the children how, if they catch a leprechaun, he will be forced to tell them of his secret stash of gold, which he keeps under a rainbow.
Game: find the leprechaun!
I photocopied 30 pics of ugly, wry little leprechauns and hid them around the room. I knew that I good and well better have one for each child, or there was going to be an international incident. When they all found one, I lined them up and gave them each a little certificate that I made up that said Good Job, etc etc and had a little pic of one on it, a rainbow and a pot of gold. There is a website for preschoolers where you can make your own awards papers. Cute! They were so excited and cute about this.
As luck would have it, the boss lady didn't bring any scissors and neither did I, except for one pair. So, I hurriedly cut out 25+ and got the babes into mini groups and had them decorate with glitter, crayons, etc. Cute Cute! They are so creative and each one is so different. Some are slow and precise, some are exuberant and colorful, some are slow, sloppy and sweet. Some use exorbitant amounts of glitter and make a four leaf clover that looks more like a coin. At this point I want to scoop them all up and hug them.
Sing Happy Birthday: on their birthday month, they get a card and a present. Play dough, always with the play dough.
Little Treasures: I have the children write their name in English on a little yellow paper circle coin I have cut out in advance. I have taped up a big black paper kettle. They line up, and each one puts their coin on the kettle. I drew a rainbow with marker also. They have an air of solemnity as they put their names in. They like this exercise. They are so sweet, and as I look at all of their names in the pot I feel a little pang: I am going to miss this!
How Many Shamrocks: I quiz them on their numbers from one to ten, with some colored shamrock sheets I made in a big hurry two hours before. I am surprised and pleased that they seem to know their numbers very well. Yay!
Review Flashcards: I showed them some flashcards and again, pleased that one or two of them retained a few words from the lesson. After a bit of review, most of them can put the word to a flashcard. Putting together a sentence is for the next teacher! I guess if there is one thing we can accomplish in this monthly club, it is a feeling of fun, excitement and confidence that can come with learning a new language. Plus, some cool crafts for mom to hang on the little Japanese refrigerators.
Snack: Irish Soda Bread with Raisins (baked Fri night, with 2 eggs I had to beg from my neighbor in a panic!!)
This was funny - one boy refused to eat it, one picked out the raisins and let mom eat the bread, most ate it and wanted seconds. I went home with an empty pan, I brought two loaves and this was a good amount.
So anyway, that was my lesson plan. I try to always have those elements in some combination. that way we keep each part of the class short, for their wee attention spans, and break it up into interesting parts, accomodate different types of learner: the visual, the auditory, the kinesthetic (?). It is a bit of work planning, so I fully take the money they pay me and don't feel bad accepting it. This time, I promptly spent it all on yarn and lunch out with Jose.