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Ricky (the puppet) Explores Antarctica

Antarticapuppet

Puppets can share joy or sadness; they can be naughty or good, cheeky or shy; and when a child is engaged by a puppet they can learn lessons and absorb messages without even realising they are.

For perfect example check out  http://antarcticapuppet.primaryblogger.co.uk/ .
A fabulous blog about how Ricky (the puppet) investigates science in the real world and “Explores Antarctica”. www.puppetsproject.com  also provide many ideas for science projects using puppets

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Have no fear! Puppets are positive creatures that bring about positive responses.

We are extremely happy to finally go live with our new website GoGoGenius

gogogenius_home

My husband and I decided to set up GoGoGenius as we wanted to create a special place where parents, teachers and educators could find products, tips and suggestions to help their children learn English through fun and creativity .

We are based in Florence, Italy, and we sell puppets and educational products primarily, but not exclusively, dedicated to teaching English, using fun, unconventional methods and theatre techniques.

Over the next few weeks we will be adding many more products and resources and we would love to receive any feedback from you.

Check out our puppet range as I believe they are a fantastic resource for any parent or teacher for use in educational activities such as storytelling, phonics, mathematics, and foreign language teaching.

As an English teacher, I use puppets in class on a regular basis because I have seen for myself that they work very successfully . Puppets are positive creatures that bring about positive responses. They fascinate and engage both children and adults in a special way. They capture a child’s attention and make learning fun!

Many educators shy away from using puppets not knowing really what to do with them apart from using them as a simple “doll”.

Fear not!!!!!!

I will try and give you some fundamental puppet tips and convey to you what wonderful teaching tools they really are.

Stay tuned!! Miranda’s back!!!

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Teaching English and Drama in Guadeluope

Lorraine Rastogi  from Guadeloupe (french west indies) recently wrote to me sharing some of her creative ideas . Check out the wonderful puppet theatre she built herself!

View Lorraine Rastogi

 

 

 

 

 

“I built up a puppet theatre and created my own puppets . A puppet maker from Brittany has made some for me BOB an American rapper(black) from New York comes to Guadeloupe and meets Mrs SLow a turtle, Penny a criol girl ,an iguana BOOBOO and BARATA an ugly witch!!! and many other puppets.. and I build up some stories with the children in the tropical forest the volcano the sea etc….My future plan is to write stories add more characters and more puppets..but I need some practice with learning this art. Children love them and it is a great tool for teaching them English Along with this I use LET’s CHANT from Carolyn Graham…”

 

(available from www.amazon.com)

Let's Chant, Let's Sing Book 1 w/ Audio CD (Let's Go / Oxford University Press)

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Play Parachute

I’ve just bought this fantastic play parachute. I bought a 3 m one as I think it’s really big enough for small children. Ideal for doing circle activities and songs with children from ages 2-6. I’ll be posting some parachute games shortly.

Children tend to get very excited as soon as they see the parachute and want to jump on it, wriggle under it, pull it, stretch it  and everything else imaginable. Once they start it’s very difficult to regain any classroom control so one initial sanity saver tip I would like to share with you before you  bring out the parachute in class,  is to practice the “HOLD and DROP” rule . “HOLD” get the children to hold hands. “DROP” – encourage the children to immediately drop their hands and wiggle their hands and fingers in front of their bodies. Practice these movements a few times and only subsequently  introduce the parachute. “HOLD” –  everyone holds onto the parachute. “DROP” –  everyone drops it instantly.  This enables the teacher to put away the parachute at the end of each activitiy with the children acting calmly.

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Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?

I have been working with SUPER SIMPLE SONGS for the last 6 months with my classes ages 4-7 with amazing results. The traditional Anglo-Saxon songs and nursery rhymes have all been re-written in a SUPER SIMPLE WAY and jazzed up especially for Esl learners. They are simple to learn and simple to teach and my young children adore them and remember them instantly. On their website, Devon and his team also give some creative suggestions on how to introduce the song and vocabulary and some role playing games.

Although most of the songs are for younger children, during my recent English Drama Summer Camp my 7-10 year olds really enjoyed “Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar”. I personally found it better doing the song without the cd as you can go at your own pace and make the song last for however long you desire. I did however take on Devon’s teaching tips. Take a look at the video for inspiration and try it out, a cardboard cookie is a real must!! 🙂

 

Here are SUPER SIMPLE SONGS suggestions:

Language focus: Question and answer intonation. “Who me?” “Who?” Practicing English rhythm.

Classroom benefits
: The question and answer patterns learned in Who Took the Cookie are great for a variety of classroom situations. After students have learned the “Who…..? question pattern from the song, it can easily be used to ask classroom questions like, “Who has a pencil?” “Who needs crayons?” “Who took my eraser?” etc. Who Took the Cookie is also another great song for practicing English rhythm and intonation.

Preparation: Have the children sit in a circle. Show them a cookie jar or a picture of a cookie jar and say, “Yummy…cookies! I’m going to have a cookie!” Look inside the cookie jar and then say, “Oh no! No more cookies! Who took the cookie from the cookie jar? Pedro? Did you take the cookie? Rina? Did you take the cookie? Who took the cookie?” Even children with very little English ability will understand this conversation when demonstrated this way.

Next, have everyone make a beat by patting their laps then clapping their hands (pat, clap, pat, clap, pat, clap, pat, clap). Don’t go too fast! Set a slow pace at first. As you pat and clap your hands, do the following chant (with the teacher demonstrating first):

All: Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?

Leader: Pedro (student’s name) took the cookie from the cookie jar!

Pedro: Who, me?

All: Yes, you!

Pedro: Not me!

All: Then who?

Pedro: Rina!

All: Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?
Rina took the cookie from the cookie jar!

Rina: Who me?

All: Yes, you!

Rina: Not me!

All: Then who?

Rina: Isabella!

All: Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?
Isabella took the cookie from the cookie jar?

Isabella: Who me?

All: Yes you!

Isabella: Not me!

All: Then who?

(Repeat, naming all of the students in the class or in your group. If you are doing it at home, name all the members of the family.)

With older kids, you may want to introduce an element of competition. Try to keep the beat steady and if a child can’t think of another student’s name and stay on the beat, they are “out.” For example:

All: Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?
Pedro took the cookie from the cookie jar.

Pedro: Who me?

All: Yes you!

Pedro: Not me!

All: Then who?

Pedro: Umm… Umm… Umm…

Leader: Time’s up!

Make a rule that you can’t repeat a name, so if you go through all of the names and nobody is left, the last student will be “out.” To make it even more challenging and to speed up the game, speed up the beat!

You can also play this game with a pretend cookie (simply cut a circle out of a brown cardboard box and draw chocolate chips on it with a black marker). Have all of the children (seated in a circle) close their eyes. Walk around the circle and place a “cookie” under one of the children so that none of the other children can see it (tap that child on the shoulder so she knows she has the cookie). Tell all of the children to open their eyes. Everyone can look at each other to try and guess who has the cookie. Start the chant once more:

All: Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?

Leader: Pedro (student’s name) took the cookie from the cookie jar!

Pedro: Who, me?

All: Yes, you!

Pedro: Not me!

All: Then who?

Pedro: Rina!

All: Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?
Rina took the cookie from the cookie jar!

Rina: Who me?

All: Yes, you!

Rina: (Takes the cookie out from under her) Okay, okay…I took the cookie (or a simple “yes” will do).

You can sing the song from the CD before and/or after playing the game to help the kids remember the words and the rhythm. The names used in the song are Tanja, Troy, Knocky (the Knock Knock English mascot), and Devon. You can assign those names to some of the students in the class. Or you can play the CD as you play the game, and just substitute the names of students.

Lyrics and actions:

(Create a beat with everyone patting their legs and clapping their hands. Pat, clap, pat, clap, pat, clap.)

Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?
[Tanja] took the cookie from the cookie jar.
Who me? (Student points to herself.)
Yes you! (Students nod their heads “yes” and point at the student.)
Not me! (Student shakes her head “no”.)
Then who? (Everyone shrugs their shoulders.)

Troy! ([Tanja] points at [Troy].)

(Make a rhythm with everyone patting their legs and clapping their hands to the beat. Pat, clap, pat, clap, pat, clap.)

Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?
[Troy] took the cookie from the cookie jar.
Who me? (Student points to himself.)
Yes you! (Students nod their heads “yes” and point at the student.)
Not me! (Student shakes his head “no”.)
Then who? (Everyone shrugs their shoulders.)

Knocky! ([Troy] points at [Knocky].)

(Make a rhythm with everyone patting their legs and clapping their hands to the beat. Pat, clap, pat, clap, pat, clap.)

Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?
[Knocky] took the cookie from the cookie jar.
Who me? (Student points to herself.)
Yes you! (Students nod their heads “yes” and point at the student.)
Not me! (Student shakes her head “no”.)
Then who? (Everyone shrugs their shoulders.)

Devon! ([Knocky] points at [Devon].)

(Make a rhythm with everyone patting their legs and clapping their hands to the beat. Pat, clap, pat, clap, pat, clap.)

Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?
[Devon] took the cookie from the cookie jar.
Who me? (Student points to himself.)
Yes you! (Students nod their heads “yes”.)

Okay, okay…I took the cookie!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Variation

Print and play with the mini-cards below. These cards allow you to play “Who Took the Cookie?” with as few as two people or as many as you have in your class. Also, when you play with these cards, nobody knows who has the cookie…even the student who has it! (When you play the regular version of “Who Took the Cookie?” younger students may have trouble keeping it a secret that they have the cookie.)

First, print the “Who Took the Cookie?” cards (and laminate them if possible).

With two players, shuffle the cards and deal four cards to each player. Each player, without looking at the cards, puts the four cards in a row in front of them. Chant the “Who Took the Cookie?” chant. When it’s someone’s turn to answer if they have the cookie or not, they turn one card over to check, and then answer.

Continue back and forth until one of the players turns over the cookie card. Each time a student turns over a card, the suspense builds. Children will want to play this game again and again, so it really gives them great practice! For variation, print two or three cards so that when one cookie card is turned over, the game continues!

For more than 2 people or a larger class, print several sets of the “Who Took the Cookie?” cards (and laminate them if possible). You can deal one card to each student, or several cards to each student. The more cards each student has, the longer the game will continue. For larger groups, print several “cookie” cards so that the game continues even after one of the cookies is found.

With very large classes, print several sets of the cards (black and white will work just fine), and have the students play in groups of five or six.

Many thanks to a good friend in Germany for this great idea!

Suggestion

Young children really enjoy the rhythm of this song so try playing it in the background during other activities and they’ll be singing it in no time.

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Zip Zap!

Zip Zap!

A great “name game” for older children 7+ . Lively and fast paced. Children love this one.

Level: beginner

Age group: Ages 7+ to adult

Time: 10 mins

Aims: To practice “what’s your name?” and to introduce pronouns “His name is” and “Her name is”

  1. Players sit on chairs in a large circle.
  2. You the teacher walk round the outside of the circle and put your hand on each child’s head indicating if they are “His” or “Her” and repeating their name. E.g His name is Luca. Her name is Sofia etc.
  3. You then stand in the middle of the circle and point to a child and say either Zip or Zap! When you say zip the child indicated introduces the child to his left and says “Her name is lisa.” When you say zap the child introduces the name of the child to his right and says “His name is Marco.”
  4. Keep the pace fast after a while shout out zip zap! On ZIP- ZAP all the children stand up and run and find another available chair . Before repeating the game ,if the children do not know each others names well allow them time to ask their neighbors “What’s your name?” Then play zip or zap again.
  5. This time when you shout out zip-zap run and take the place of a child. This leaves one child without a chair. He or she takes over your role by pointing and saying Zip! Zap! Or Zip-Zap!

Variation :

Change criteria to age , eye/hair colour

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English Learning Website for Very Young Children

Parents often ask me to suggest English learning websites suitable for their very young children .

I often use UpToTen   with my 4 year old bilingual son.

He loves it! It keeps him involved and motivated in thinking in English as well as practicing his computer skills. The site contains very engaging and unique games, songs and activities . Check it out!

uptoten

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Miranda’s ESL DRAMA -WARM UP

Miranda’s ESL DRAMA -WARM UP

 You will need: Pop music  

This is a very simple warm up , listening and concentration exercise but great fun for everyone. I usually start every lesson with this one. You should actively take part at least initially in this game in order to verbally and physically demonstrate to the children what you want them to do. Instruct everyone to:

– Stand up

– Sit down

– Walk

– Hop

– Jump

– Sit down

– Lay down

– Sit up

– Stand up

– Wiggle (dance the twist)

– Fly

– Swim

– Drive a car (beep beep)

– Clap

– Cheer

– Say hello (wave)

– Spin around

Repeat and change all the action words until the children start associating the verbal instruction with the correct physical action.

Variations:

1. Go round the circle and indicate to everyone which child is a boy or girl. Play the game again this time Instruct “only the girls” or “only the boys” to do a movement or “everyone” in unison

2.For children ages 5+ Simon Says becomes a natural follow on game

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Tips on Stage Make-up

 STAGE MAKE-UP 

image

Face Painting adds great excitement and novelty to any Drama class.  With stage make-up, children finally feel like professional actors!

If you are far from being a professional face painter, like myself, I suggest you use very simple creations to maximum effect!! You also should consider “time”, as any  group of children will find it difficult to wait patiently and quietly while you create individual masterpieces for each child’s face!

So I personally suggest that you always keep it:

1.     QUICK and SIMPLE

2.       Make your life easier by investing in a stage make- up pallet and paintbrush, base pancake and sponges. The paints are water based, very allergy friendly and easy to wipe off after. You can also make animal whiskers and moustaches, and rosy cheeks precisely and in seconds.

image

1.       If you have a large class and want to make-up everyone before a show ..try and get the children to arrive early and straight into costume. As soon as one child is ready start making up. So you don’t have a line of impatient children waiting.

2.       Also, prepare beforehand what kind of faces you are going to do and for whom so you don’t waste valuable time thinking when you have the children in front of you!

3.       Avoid eyes, children don’t like make-up too close to their eyes as they get irritated and start to water.

4.       Remind the children not to touch their faces until the paint is dry, you don’t want 20 smudged faces before the curtain even goes up!

5.      Get  inspiration and ideas for face painting on the internet or try  some books here are some from Amazon you could check out. I really like all Usborne books for children and find them really user friendly.

 Here is an interesting video I found on you tube that could get you motivated in doing something more sophisticated.

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Song and Role-play for “The Wheels on the Bus”

Song and Role-play for

“The Wheels on the Bus”

 

My 4-5 year old class loves doing the following song and role-play activity . It’s physical, lively and engaging. Try it!

 

I got the following song and activity from super simple songs

 

Language focus: Round and round, open and shut, beep beep, up and down, wheels, bus, door, wipers, horn, people, babies, mommies.

Classroom benefits: The Wheels on the Bus introduces a lot of very useful vocabulary for young learners while allowing them to get up, move around the classroom, and engage their imaginations.

Preparation: Before singing the song, introduce a toy bus or a picture of a bus or a bus-themed picture book. Point out the wheels, the door, the wipers, etc. Now, seated in a circle, you are ready to introduce the song.

Lyrics and actions:

(Everybody stands in big circle. You may want to give all of the students some props to act as steering wheels. Tambourines work great! Honk the horn!)

(Everyone stops and faces into the circle.)

The wheels on the bus go round and round. (Move your hands and arms round and round in a circle.)

Round and round. Round and round.

The wheels on the bus go round and round. Round and round. (Go! Between each verse, everyone pretends to drive a bus and honk the horn.)

The door on the bus goes open and shut. (Clap your hands together on “shut” and open them on “open”.)

Open and shut. Open and shut.

The door on the bus goes open and shut. Open and shut.

 

The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish. (Mimic the motion of windshield wipers with your hands and arms.)

Swish, swish, swish. Swish, swish, swish.

The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish. Swish, swish, swish.

 

The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep. (Pretend to be honking the horn on the steering wheel of a bus.)

Beep, beep, beep. Beep, beep, beep.

The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep. Beep, beep, beep.

 

The people on the bus go up and down. (Stretch up and then squat down.) Up and down. Up and down.

The people on the bus go up and down. Up and down.

 

The babies on the bus go wah wah wah. (Place your hands next to your eyes and pretend to cry.)

Wah, wah, wah. Wah, wah, wah.

The babies on the bus go wah wah wah. Wah, wah, wah.

 

The mommies on the bus go shhh shhh shhh. (Place your finger in front of your mouth as you make the shhh sounds. You can also pretend to cradle a baby in one arm).

Shhh shhh shhh. Shhh shhh shhh.

The mommies on the bus go shhh shhh shhh. Shhh shhh shhh.

 

ROLE- PLAY

After the song is great time to “play bus”. Set up rows of chairs like the inside of a bus. Make a bus stop by putting some tape or rope down on the ground. Give each of the children several “coins” (colored chips work great, marbles will do… or use real coins). Make a small box into the fare collection box.

The teacher or parent can put on a bus driver’s cap and use a tambourine as a steering wheel. “Open” the bus door and invite the children on. Ask, “Where are you going?” Elicit responses like “To the park/to the pool/to the zoo/to the library/etc. Say, “Two coins, please.” and help the children pay. After all the kids have boarded, start “driving.” Sing The Wheels on the Bus together. Turn left and turn right, having the kids lean with you as you turn. Call out the stops. “Next stop…the park!” “Next stop…the zoo!”

Kids LOVE this role-play. Let them take turns being the driver too!