Most mobile phones these days come with a camera, and here is an activity you can use with older learners who might have their own mobile phones. Ask learners to take some photos of objects around the home, for example:
• Take photos of five things in your home you would save from a fire• Take photos of objects that you think other students won’t have in their homes• Take photos of everyday household objects from a strange angle (for other students to guess)
Learners bring the photos to school and show the photos in groups – the activities could be used to learn and recycle vocabulary of household objects, and could also lead to some interesting discussions.
Word Carrot is an app that will help learners of all ages spell ten basic words for household objects and furniture. Learners see the word, hear the word, and choose the right letters to spell it. You could use it as a game to play on the IWB, or students can use it to practise words outside the classroom. Here is an activity you can print for learners to practise the words further.The Home Worksheet
There are a number of ‘dolls house’ apps on the market and this post will look at three of them – all language free. First of all, Elin’s House. This is an interesting one as it’s a) free b) available for both iOS and Android, and c) particularly useful for EFL/ESL learners. With this app, users choose a house, and can then decorate and furnish each room however they like. The graphics are not wonderful, but it is quite simple to use, and could be very useful for all kinds of activities.
Note: Watch out for in-app purchases with this app, and make sure that the functionality is disabled before using with learners.
Here are four suggestions for using Elin’s House in the classroom:
• You could decorate a room, but add strange things into it (for example, flowers in the bedroom; or a lamp in the garden). Show the picture to your students, and ask them to say what’s wrong with it.• Use it to get students speaking and listening in English. Ask your students to tell you what to put in each room, and where to put it (Paint the room green; put a table in the middle of the room; put three chairs next to the table etc), and then follow their instructions. Or students could do the activity in pairs: one student gives instructions, the other follows them. This would be great for practising vocabulary, and also good for practising giving instructions and talking about position/location.• Use it for writing practice. Children could design a room, and then write about it.• Ask students to try to create their ideal room using the items in the app. Can they do it? What items are missing?
The second ‘dolls house’ app to be featured is My PlayHome. This is a virtual, interactive play house, and allows children to role-play typical activities that take place around the home, such as having a meal, having a shower, going to bed and so on. There is also a free version My PlayHome Lite which offers full interactivity for two rooms: the kitchen and living room.
And the third ‘dolls house’ app is Toca House. The app features five floors of a house which children can explore. They meet different characters on each floor, and complete 10 household chores each time they play, such as mopping the floor, washing the dishes, or mowing the lawn. As with the other featured apps, there is no language, so it can be used to present language related to household tasks, and can lead to discussions about who does what around the home.
I don’t know how many children’s book and story apps are out there – but I do know that there a lot. Many of these stories would work well with the theme of the home, and I am just going to focus on one here: The Three Little Pigs – Nosy Crow animated storybook. This is a useful story for children learning English as a second/foreign language: it may be well known to them already; and the language is relatively simple – and in this app the story is supported by great animations and actions.
App: The Three Little Pigs – Nosy Crow animated storybook
The Three Little Pigs presents three modes: read and play; read to me; read by myself. ‘Read and play’ would be a great place to start in the classroom, and would be ideal with a small group of children, who could interact with the story. The story makes the most of the ipad’s technical capabilities, for example, children can blow into the microphone to blow the house down, and they can interact with the characters and objects by touching the screen.
This app is a little more expensive, but could be used again and again to inspire lots of classroom-based activities relating to topics from the home (for example, making houses out of different materials), to pigs (making puppets). Or children could make their own books. See this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YMbh5TZCps