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  • Five-Minute Activities for Young Learners

  • Cambridge Handbooks for LanguageTeachersThis is a series of practical guides for teachers of English and otherlanguages. Illustrative examples are usually drawn from the field ofEnglish as a foreign or second language, but the ideas and techniquesdescribed can equally well be used in the teaching of any language.

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    Language Activities for Teenagersedited by seth lindstromberg

    Pronunciation Practice ActivitiesA resource book for teaching English pronunciationmartin hewings

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  • Five-MinuteActivities for YoungLearners

    Penny McKay and Jenni Guse


    Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore,

    So Paulo, Delhi, Dubai, Tokyo

    Cambridge University Press

    The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

    First published in print format

    ISBN-13 978-0-521-69134-5

    ISBN-13 978-0-511-62963-1

    Cambridge University Press 2007

    It is normally necessary for written permission for copying to be obtained in

    advance from a publisher. Certain parts of this book are designed to be copied and

    distributed in class. The normal requirements are waived here and it is not

    necessary to write to Cambridge University Press for permission for an individual

    teacher to make copies for use within his or her own classroom. Only those pages

    which carry the wording Cambridge University Press 2007 may be copied.


    Information on this title:

    This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the

    provision of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part

    may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

    Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy

    of urls for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication,

    and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain,

    accurate or appropriate.

    Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York

    eBook (Adobe Reader)


  • Contents

    Introduction 1

    1 Animals 9

    1.1 What animals do you know? (*) 91.2 Describing well-known animals (*) 101.3 Animals moving about (*) 111.4 Animal rhythms (*) 121.5 Singing about animals (*) 131.6 Writing an animal Haiku (*) 141.7 Wild animals (**) 151.8 What animal am I? (**) 171.9 Guess the animal in 20 questions (**) 18

    1.10 Personal animal recount (**) 191.11 Animal raps (**) 201.12 Animal habitats (**) 211.13 Animal information report (***) 231.14 Human attributes of animals (***) 241.15 Animal advertisements (***) 251.16 Animal conversations (***) 271.17 Animal escape (***) 281.18 Which dog has a better life? (***) 29

    2 Journeys 31

    2.1 A beach holiday (*) 312.2 Describing what we can do on a beach holiday (*) 322.3 Types of transport (*) 332.4 Transport: odd one out (*) 342.5 A travel sociogram (*) 352.6 A beach holiday checklist (*) 372.7 Travelling to school (**) 382.8 About the weather (**) 392.9 Advice for a visitor (**) 41

    2.10 How do you come to school? (**) 43


  • 2.11 Guess the local place (**) 442.12 Writing a late note for the teacher (**) 452.13 Travel diary from space (***) 462.14 Singing about journeys (***) 472.15 UFO (***) 482.16 Science fiction (***) 492.17 Holidays in space (***) 502.18 About Mars (***) 52

    3 Fantasy and adventure 54

    3.1 The king and the dragon (*) 543.2 The pirate (*) 563.3 Adventurers and heroes (*) 573.4 Witchs magic potion (*) 583.5 Good king bad king (*) 603.6 Draw a dinosaur (*) 613.7 Wizard interview (**) 633.8 Turned into a rabbit! (**) 643.9 Queens family (**) 65

    3.10 Fairy tale people (**) 663.11 Contrasting fairies and witches (**) 673.12 Three wishes (**) 683.13 Jack and the beanstalk (***) 693.14 Goldilocks (***) 703.15 Fortune telling (***) 723.16 House of horrors (***) 733.17 The kings challenge (***) 753.18 Create a fantasy tale (***) 77

    4 The world around us 78

    4.1 Rivers of the world (*) 784.2 Map making (*) 794.3 Drawing my natural world (*) 804.4 North, south, east and west (*) 814.5 Geographical tongue twisters (*) 824.6 Sphere shapes (*) 834.7 New Year celebrations (**) 854.8 New Years Day emails (**) 86



  • 4.9 Loy Krathong Festival from Thailand (**) 874.10 Pinocchio: an Italian story (**) 894.11 Carnival in Brazil (**) 904.12 Popular Asian game (**) 914.13 Natural disasters (***) 924.14 Pompeii (***) 944.15 Safety guidelines (***) 954.16 Current affairs recount (***) 964.17 Earthquakes and floods (***) 974.18 Emergency procedures (***) 99

    5 Healthy bodies 101

    5.1 Grandma! What big eyes youve got! (*) 1015.2 Callisthenics (*) 1035.3 Create your own dance (*) 1045.4 Healthy morning routine (*) 1055.5 Staying clean and healthy (*) 1065.6 Footprints (*) 1075.7 Doctor! Doctor! (**) 1085.8 Safety (**) 1095.9 A healthy lifestyle (**) 111

    5.10 Our feelings (**) 1125.11 Absent from school (**) 1135.12 Unhealthy activities (**) 1145.13 The senses (***) 1165.14 An accident (***) 1175.15 Get well card (***) 1185.16 Personal affirmations (***) 1205.17 Healthy and unhealthy foods (***) 1215.18 Food pyramid (***) 122

    6 About me 124

    6.1 My family (*) 1246.2 My classroom (*) 1256.3 My home (*) 1276.4 My school books (*) 1286.5 My free time (*) 1296.6 My mums mobile phone (*) 130


  • 6.7 My friends (**) 1316.8 My birthday party (**) 1326.9 My school excursion (**) 134

    6.10 My sporting skills (**) 1356.11 My favourite TV show (**) 1366.12 My favourite party game (**) 1386.13 My computer class (***) 1396.14 My mathematics class (***) 1406.15 My science class (***) 1426.16 My social education class (***) 1436.17 My poetry class (***) 1456.18 My music class (***) 146

    Website appendix 148


  • Thanks and Acknowledgements

    The authors would like to thank their partners, Andy and Allan, for theirsupport during their teaching and more recently their writing. They wouldlike to give special thanks to Scott Thornbury for his expert guidance in theshaping of the material in this book.

    They would also like to thank Frances Amrani, Roslyn Henderson andHilary Ratcliff for their very expert and supportive editorial work.


  • Introduction

    Purpose, scope and use of this book

    This book is designed to provide short, topical and achievable teaching ideasfor teachers of English to young learners, whether they are following arequired syllabus or textbook, or preparing a curriculum that is targeted attheir own group of learners. The particular value of the book is that itprovides teachers with a store of activities that they can use, at long or shortnotice, to meet a specific learning objective, or to fill a gap (or reinforce alearning point) that becomes apparent as children study the scheduledcurriculum or textbook. When chosen carefully by the teacher to suit thecurrent theme and to meet the planned objectives, the activities in this bookcan be used in several ways. They can act as supplementary mainstayactivities in the planned curriculum to support the progress of learningalready underway. They can also act as reinforcement activities if childrenneed to focus a little more on a particular aspect of learning. And (so long astheir use is consistent with the overall teaching goals) they can be usedsimply to liven up the class, to inject interest or adrenalin, and to give thechildren five minutes of fun. We recommend that you keep this book at yourside when you do your planning, and handy when teaching, ready for thosemoments when children need reinforcement, or have shown that they cantake on another quick challenge.

    The audience for this book

    The audience for this book is teachers of English to children aged from six totwelve years of age. They may be teachers of EFL (English as a ForeignLanguage) or ESL/EAL (English as a Second Language / English as anAdditional Language). EFL teachers are teaching English in a situationwhere English is seldom heard outside the classroom. ESL teachers areteaching English to children who are learning English as the main languageof communication and learning in their classrooms, school and community.For both EFL and ESL teachers, the activities in this book can be used asmainstay or supplementary reinforcement activities.


  • In a mainstream ESL context, we are assuming that, as much aspossible, the ESL teacher will try to relate the activities to the contentof mainstream classes. For example, you may choose a five-minuteactivity to correspond with a science topic from a mainstream class. Thisactivity will not only meet specific language objectives, but may alsoprovide a link between the language classroom and the mainstream class.Similarly, if the children are learning about narratives in their mainstreamclasses, you, the language teacher, could choose a number of five-minuteactivities which focus on the language features of narratives. In this way,language teachers can help to build an integrated curriculum, while at thesame time catering for different levels of ability, skills and contentknowledge.

    The structure of this book

    We have organised the book into six themes, and each theme containsactivities which have been divided into three levels of difficulty: one star (*)represents the lowest level of difficulty, while three stars (***) represent themost challenging activities. The box at the top of each activity also containsthe Language focus and Skills focus for each activity, along with a Thinkingfocus and suggestions for the teacher about accepting or correcting errors.The nature of the interaction, i.e. group work, pairwork, etc. is noted at thetop of each activity, and the teachers preparation for each activity is alsoclearly stated.

    The six themes in this book have been chosen to appeal to both boys andgirls from a wide age range. The topics, which relate to common learningtopics in EFL and ESL classrooms, are usually covered in young learner EFLtests (for example, the Cambridge Young Learners English Test) and in manycourse books. The topics also underpin learning in the curriculum in mostprimary mainstream classrooms. They are as follows:

    AnimalsJourneysFantasy and adventureThe world around usHealthy bodiesAbout me

    The design of the activities allows teachers to adapt and apply the ideas toother themes. Teachers may decide to use the activities for five to ten

    Five-Minute Activities for Young Learners


  • minutes, or it is possible for experienced teachers to extend a number ofactivities and adapt these for more able students.

    The philosophy underpinning the activities

    We have structured the book so that it encourages meaningful language useand real communication appropriate to primary age learners and theirlearning contexts. Even when children are practising vocabulary,pronunciation or language structures, they do so in a meaningful way, in anactivity where their own meanings are created, supported and exchangedwith others. The arrangement in themes is important because it enableschildren to build up a store of topic-related language items that they canrecycle as they move on to more advanced activities on the same topic. Wehave used a range of genres, such as recount, information report, procedure,narrative, explanation and argument, to provide a range of contexts andpurposes for language use.

    From our knowledge of child development (including an appreciation ofmultiple intelligences) and from a desire to focus on individual learners, wehave created activities that are hands-on and appeal to a childs sense of fun.Such activities are enjoyable and achievable and motivate learners becausethey enable them to be successful according to their individual abilities. Wehave involved movement, active participation and games. A spiral modelwhich recycles language, together with an awareness of higher-orderthinking skills, has enabled us to cater for childrens cognitive development.(The spiralling of learning depends, of course, to a large extent, on the orderin which teachers choose activities.)

    Through the activities, we aim to enable children to think and tocommunicate in English, so that as they acquire new language, they developstrategies to communicate, and are then able to apply this new knowledge tonew situations. Through this process, then, children are able to learn howlanguage is organised, used and learned. We have also aimed to give childrenan opportunity to reflect on and learn new things as they participate in theactivities.

    The content of the activities

    The activities focus on the four macro skills, listening, speaking, reading andwriting, and the building blocks of language, vocabulary, pronunciationand grammar. They also focus on developing learning strategies, for



  • example, certain decoding strategies to enhance reading skills,pronunciation strategies to aid clear oral language, and higher-orderthinking skills (such as categorising, classifying, defining, explaining,drawing conclusions, hypothesising, making connections between ideas, andconsidering multiple viewpoints or conflicting views) to improve childrensthinking abilities.

    Materials needed

    We assume that teachers have a blackboard and chalk, or whiteboard andmarker, for every activity. Other materials that teachers need are listed.

    We encourage teachers to display childrens work around the classroom.Lists of words, and pictures, and other material that is used in the activitiescan also be used for display. Displays give children a chance to revisit whatthey have learned, and when they look around the classroom they can feelgood about what they have done. Teachers can also organise children tokeep their activity work in a book or portfolio in which...


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