My students using fortune-teller origami to generate discussions. Notice how much space there is in the room to allow for movement.

In a recent blog titled “Teaching (VERY) Young Learners”, we promised a list of activities you can use not only with young learners, but also young adults and even adults. Without further ado, check out the list below:

  • Colours, pictures and graphics: while teenagers may not care much for brightly coloured shapes and ordinary objects, little kids love them! The younger they are, the more interactive printouts should be. Activities like matching, fill in the blanks, running dictation, etc. can be great if the images on the page are bigger than the letters. As for teens, try to include pop-culture references (examples with The Raptors and/or whatever else is “hot” right now).
  • Books: little kids are fascinated with books. My little guy (remember Dante from the last post?) loves flip books, Dr. Seuss’, dinosaur books, and touch and feel ones where you get to trace things with your fingers. What about teens? Well,  in the past, we’ve read children’s books in my teen classes, and they’ve been quite responsive, especially when analysis would ensue. Books like Winnie the Pooh or Alice in Wonderland are great! Even Dr. Seuss’ “The Places You’ll Go” can be quite interesting given its themes of travelling, personality, and adapting to new cultures. The books have many layers of meaning and this is motivating to them and it’s easy to make it relevant because of the array of meaning they contain.
  • The books can be followed with other activities, but the one I will describe here is a writing activity. Little children love creating their own books (I’ve had to provide the resources for this but if your school can provide you with all the tools, that’s amazing!). Younger adults like (for the most part) writing their own ending of the story, or even responding to a particular point made in the book. They can interpret, fill in the blanks (if a page is “missing”), or add themselves as a character to the story and rewrite it altogether!
  • What about activities that require no resources at all? I mentioned TPR (Total Physical Response) in my last blog post about teaching young learners, and I suggest you read it if you haven’t yet because there are many activities listed there. With children, I sing lots of songs that refer to vocabulary about body parts, animals, feelings, etc.. Some of these songs I make up on the spot or we make them up together. There’s no such game as “Simon says make an angry face” but hey, my kids give me lots of ideas and I just go with it! This most definitely won’t work with teens – their eyes will roll so far back in their head…! Instead, try role playing with them where they evoke certain emotions. So ask them to create a scene and instruct that one person is frustrated, and they have to make the whole thing up – dialogue, acting, interpretation, and Q&A. Give them a time limit because you might be in for a 15 min show for every pair/group.
  • What about creating stuff out of nothing as a team-building activity? Have you tried building origami? It really doesn’t matter what the age of the students is. I’ve had adults and teens build fortune teller origami and write thought provoking questions in each fold to generate discussions/debates with others. They would even leave the classroom and ask other students who were not in my class to participate. How’s that for an ice-breaker? I absolutely love this one! It involves writing, speaking, reading, listening and motor skills where they enjoy building the origami which they later get to keep. Kids love origami too, but they prefer building various shapes and then adding a bunch of stickers to them. I once built 24 paper airplanes, one for each letter of the alphabet…let’s just say I was advanced in the art of paper folding after that!

I hope you enjoy reading and practicing my ideas. How about you? Do you have any particular activities that work well with different age groups? Feel free to comment below, or even email us and we can share on your behalf!

Happy Wednesday and lots of love from the Vertices team!

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