Saturday, December 29, 2012

Less Traditional Hangman Stick Figures

Found the original source for the "9 ways of hangman" that has been floating around the web.

While I don't use any of these when I play with my student maybe you can add it to make hangman a bit more enjoyable. Remember to check out this post on Alternate Hangman if you are looking for other ways to spice up the classic hangman game for your class.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Another Comic for Your / You're

The other day I was arranging to get together with a guy friend via text message. 

While we are not romantically involved at all from time to time our conversation definitely gets flirty. This was one of those times. 

At some point in the banter he ended up using the wrong your and I instantly found him less attractive. 

Does that make me a grammar snob? Perhaps, but that doesn't make it any less true. 

This grammar comic is a good example of what I may want to implement in the future for your vs you're (and perhaps a helpful reminder to your students).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

15+ different Vocabulary Methods (How to teach words)

A key to learning any new language is new vocabulary! There are so many ways to



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Send Snowflakes to Sandy Hook

I recently saw a post on FaceBook inviting people to send snowflakes to Sandy Hook. I did my research and this is legit.

Basically, when January rolls around and school resumes the students will be in a new building. Parent-volunteers are working hard to make sure that the students are welcomed back into a winter wonderland. Part of that means they are decorating the school with as many unique snowflakes as possible. 

Teachers, students, and everyone else are encouraged to send snowflakes, the request encouraged creativity,  to the school (remembering that snowflakes are just like us, and should be as unique possible).

If you have the time and desire please make and send snowflakes by January 12, 2013 to the Connecticut PTSA:

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514

If you aren't artistically inclined, but feel the need to help donations will be accepted indefinitely to the Connecticut PTSA “Sandy Hook Fund” to provide ongoing support to the community at the same address above.

I don't know about everyone else, but I can barely stop crying. I avoid the news and news pages because the stories about Sandy Hook just cause me to cry. The story of the teacher's reactions from locking their students in bathrooms and repeating that they loved them so they would hear that and not the bullets, to literally shielding them from bullets with their own bodies bring tears to my eyes every time. The stories of marriage proposals teachers will never hear, or movies they will never see bring tears to my eyes. And the children...the little girl who begged her mom to wear her pink Christmas dress that day, and now it will be the last thing she ever wore... it is all just so horrible.

This is the chance to do something small, just sending a snowflake, and hope that it will somehow help. Regardless of the size of the act, it just seems to make things a tiny bit better.

Maybe it will help you too?

If you have any ideas of how to make this a lesson plan for different levels, or just want to share your finished product feel free to comment here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What are you waiting for? See the world! Take a risk!

I love my life.

  • I love that I decided to study in Singapore 7 years ago.
  • I love that I backpacked around Asia before coming home that Winter.
  • I love that I studied in Spain 5 years ago.
  • I love that before Spain I had a chance to explore Europe.
  • I love that I studied in Turkey that Summer.
  • I love that I taught in Korea.
  • I love that I saved money and traveled Europe before I came home.
  • I love that I did the Camino de Santiago.
  • I love that I au paired in the Netherlands while I got my CELTA.
  • I love that I took a job in a "narco" city in Madrid (I love my University).

That being said, there are other ways to tilt at windmills. Take some risks. Try that new restaurant. Learn to use chopsticks. Rock a new microbrew. Try a different way to teach. Give yourself personal challenges and enjoy life!


I am glad I try to find new ways to implement movies all the time. I like using music during class (and not just in clozes). I like that I try new things I learn from webinars (like flipped classes and dynamic assessment)

What windmills have you tilted at lately?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Read 12 books. Write 12 essays. Spend 48 fewer days in jail.

My favorite fictional prison library from the Shashank
My students, and some friends, often ask me what the point of essays are. Why do they need to learn essay format? What are the pluses of knowing how to arrange a paragraph? Who cares?!?

I normally try to explain that the processes of brainstorming, organizing, and supporting their opinions are skills which are applicable to so many other areas. 

As valid is that argument is, now I have a new answer, the ability to write an essay could lower your time in prison!

According to a Reuters' article Reading offers Brazilian prisoners quicker escape a federal prison in Brazil is offering the chance for inmates to knock 4 days off of their sentence if they read a work of literature, philosophy, science or one of the classics and write an essay on the subject (for a maximum of 48 days).

Their essay MUST have proper paragraphs, use appropriate margins, be legible, and "be free of corrections."

Not every prisoner will be eligible for this, but nonetheless I will be using this as a solid reason why essay writing extends past academics.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

More on inferring

I had an earlier post talking about how my students struggled with inferring. Shortly after, Roque Ehrhardt de Campos from Brazil e-mailed me a story that also showed the importance of proper inferring.

She was in the middle of the road. The noise of my motorbike frightened her and she didn't know which way to run. She just stood there, immobile, watching the motorbike as it came towards her. Suddenly, when we were side by side on the road, she jumped forward in front of me. I tried to stop the motorbike, but it was too late. The motorbike hit her. We fell to the ground and I landed on top of her. For a moment I held her body in my arms. It was warm and soft. She was trembling with fear and her heart was beating fast. In a second, she was on her feet again. She disappeared into the trees at the side of the road. She wasn't hurt  just frightened. I wasn't hurt either but my motorbike was damaged, so I pushed it into the trees and I started to walk home slowly before it became dark. I felt happy and excited. 
Questions you could ask your students.

1. Who did the man hit?

2. What clues does the story give you to let you come to that conclusion?

3. Did you think something different when you first started reading? Why?

4. Why did you decide that your first guess was wrong?

It also reminds me of the riddle

A boy and his father were in a car accident. The father died immediately and the boy was rushed to the hospital. When he arrived the surgeon said, "I can't operate on this boy he's my son." How is this possible?
1. How is it is possible?

2. Why isn't that the first assumption that people come to?

3. Would this riddle be effective in Spanish? Why or why not?

If you by chance don't know the riddle already or need help understanding the first passage just comment and I'll respond with more details.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fight! Fight! A playful way to have a "snowball fight" to review topics

I remember in high school one teacher, who I can't remember exactly...either an English or History teacher, had us push the desk and chairs to each side of the class making two "trenches." We balled up old quizzes, tests, and homework, and for about five minutes threw the paper balls back and forth at each other. I can't remember the point of the lesson, but I do remember it was lots of fun! So when Lee Adams told me about a review activity he played involving balled up paper I was hooked. He thinks he got it from The Accelerated Learning Handbook.

  1. Basically each student gets a piece of scratch paper (be it homework that you accidentally photocopied with a typo and it thus is trash or any other one side free page). I often tell them they can use old math or chemistry assignments to get more of a cathartic relief. 
  2. On the paper they legibly write a question in English from something that we covered (or that I have told them will be on the test). 
  3. They each ball up the piece of paper and wait.
  4. Once everyone is ready set a timer for 30 seconds (if you have an IWB or projector I suggest the bomb countdown). 
  5. Let chaos break out as the students have 30 seconds to pelt the "snowballs" at one another (and probably the teacher too).
  6. When the timer goes off they have to grab the "snowball" closest to them. 
  7. The teacher takes turns calling on volunteers to read their question and come up with the answer.

As always, I can think of a few alternatives

  • Make the snowballs yourself. Now this is one less step for the students, but if you have specific things you want covered it may be better. Hand out the paper as though it were a one page quiz and then tell the students to ball it up! That will make them happy :-)
  • Make it a competition. My teenagers LOVE competing against one another. So do it like my high school teacher did. Divide the class into two groups. At the end if they answer their review question right, their team gets 10 points. If they don't get it right, let their team help them out and if as a team they are correct they get 5 points. (Let the other team steal after that for 5 points i f you wish)
  • Code it! Give each student a different color paper (or save the planet and use scratch paper that you've put different symbols onto). Tell them that a blue (or smiley face) paper is vocabulary, a green (or star) is relative clauses, a red (or circle) is short story, etc. That way they are still writing the questions, but you can promise a variety of categories at least. 
  • Use it for new vocabulary or grammar. Have them write a sentence with a blank for the vocab word (or draw a picture of the vocabulary word) OR have them write an example of the new grammar and the student has to guess the grammar (or vice versa, they write the grammar topic and the student would need to give a sample sentence).
So there we go, a great way to get the blood pumping in your class!

Would you use this in your class? Would you change it first? What other ideas does it give you?

Why administrators can't always trust students

I've seen a lot of discussions lately talking about the pros and cons of having teacher evaluations. 

Personal thoughts: 

I think that student evaluations should be done. I think that we should look over evaluations and consider carefully what students have said and why they may have said it. As my boss always tells us when he hands out evaluations, "Let’s remember that even the best surveys tend to provide us with something that we need to think about."

At ITESM teachers are graded on a scale of 0-5. 0 being perfect and 5 being... not so perfect. We are expected to get an average of under 2. If we are over 3 we need to seriously re-evaluate our lessons.  

However, as far as administration goes, I think that evaluations should, indiviually, be taken with a grain of salt. After all, as the comic humorously shows what the administrator sees is not always an accurate depiction of the class. I do not think a teacher should be given a raise because or good evaluations nor fired because of bad ones. If anything, the evaluations may provide a reason for the classes to be monitored so an administartor can see what is going on first hand.

If interested you can check out some of my past student evaluations here and here

What do you think? Are student evaluations a valuable tool or simply a way to reward the "cool" or "pretty" teachers.

Friday, December 7, 2012

5 Random Study Hints to Share with Your Students

One of the reasons students don't preform well on tests is stress. Tests are stressful! They study and then promptly forget everything.

In addition to having my students prepare for their tests by studying I also tend to give them some random hints. Do these help? I think yes! But, mainly I think that they help students feel that they've made an extra step and thus are more prepared.

1. Use your sense of smell/taste!
When studying burn a candle/incense with a certain happy scent and then when you take the test or quiz where a perfume/cologne or have a satchel of the fabric which smells the same with you. Your brain will recall the information you studied more readily as it associates the smell with the information. Also, your brain is more likely to remember pleasant information. This means that if you eat ice cream while you study your brain stores this in the "happy" place. This is easier to go ahead and buy an extra pint of ice cream.

2. Chew Gum / Fidget
By chewing gum and/or fidgeting during the test/quiz you will be keeping your blood moving. That means that your blood goes towards your brain faster and you think "better." No idea if this is true or not, but I think the fact that they are moving tends to get rid of their nerves during the test which is just as important.

3. Brain Gym!
I give my student some moves that allegedly have the left side of their brain contact the right side more efficiently (with your right hand trace 4 triangles, simultaneously with your left hand trace 4 squares). I have read mixed reviews on this, but again, I feel that it gives them something to do when they are freaking out which they believe helps them. Thus, with the placebo effect, it does!

4. Eat a good breakfast
I still remember taking those STAR tests when I was younger and my teachers would bring in OJ, cheese and crackers. It goes with reason. Think of Maslov's pyramid. When someone is hungry they can't learn. When your stomach controls you, you aren't thinking correctly. So by eating a solid breakfast (fish for the omega if possible) their brain works better and their stomach won't bother them.

5. Have a good night's sleep
I remember that in Psych 101 in college we learned how short term memory is converted into long term memory. He told us the only way cramming would work was if we crammed really hard, went to sleep and then went straight to the test. Otherwise it probably won't function. Regardless of cramming it is the same as above. If you are falling asleep your brain will not work so be sure to get a good night's sleep.

Do you have any unique advice that anyone ever gave you? Or weird advice that you give your students?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

British Council's Blog for November

 The British Council's facebook page has shortlisted a recent Blog for their TeachingEnglish blog award for November.

"In this blog post – I am thinking of a word that rhymes with.... – Carissa Peck describes a class activity that:
– practises rhymes
– practises interrogative statements (making questions).
– practises basic vocabulary and defining words in English.
– helps students practise thinking and forming sentences in English.

If you like it too, give it a "like" here (or click on the picture).

If you haven't checked out the post yet you can find it


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why teaching for free doesn't always help

I know a lot of people want to volunteer their time abroad, and I full encourage it. However, keep in mind why you are doing it and how it will actually help. Here's an easy way to look at a way a lot of people view teaching for a year...


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I am thinking of a word that rhymes with....

Looking for an easy filler?

The fast and the dirty rules:

To start the teacher thinks of a word and writes it on a piece of paper (to prevent cheating later) and says says, “I am thinking of a word that rhymes with frog”

Then students try to guess the word, but instead of saying their guess they give a hint, “Is it an animal cats fear?”

Now the teacher has to figure out what animal they are guessing and respond “No it is not a dog”

“Is it another word for a pig?”

“No it's not a hog.”

“Is it something people use to write online?”

“No it's not a blog”

“Is it what happens when the sky is really thick and you can't see through it?”

“I don't know” (The teacher doesn't know! So the person has to tell the word they meant.)

“Is it fog?” (This person gets a participation token/point for stumping the “teacher”)

“No it's not”

“Is it a slow run?”

“Yes it's a jog!”

If they guess correctly then they get to be the teacher and think of a word for the class to guess (and get a token).

This is even better than the teacher thinking since students have to try and guess what the students are thinking when they propose a rhyme.

  • I normally let them guess until they get it but sometimes I'll cap it at 20 guesses. It's usually my end of class filler, so I try to get students to beat their score (can you guess in less than 5 this time?). If it takes more than 20 guesses then the person who thought of the unknown word “wins.”
  • You can give more clues according to the class, so if you are practicing syllables (teaching superlative perhaps?): “I am thinking of a two syllable word that rhymes with _______”
  • Use it to practice parts of speech, “I am thinking of a verb that rhymes with frog” (clog, flog, jog, snog, etc.) This can be hard so consider omitting the rhyming.
  • Another way to make the game easier is to get change the rhyming aspect. “I'm thinking of an animal that starts with a D” (Dragon, Dinosaur, Dog, Duck, Deer, Dolphin, Donkey, Dove, Dragonfly, etc.)
  • If you are giving out participation tokens you can give it to students if they guess correctly (a good way to get students involved) or if they posit a guess that the thinker can't guess.
  • With upper level students I tend to exclude words with suffixes, otherwise trying to guess all the words that rhyme with nation is rather hard and time consuming.
  • Play it like Alternative Hangman where students have to answer review questions and only if they get a review question right are they allowed to guess.
  • You can also play it as a team game where correct guesses or stumping the “teacher” gets your team points. To keep it going fast you can cap it at 10 guesses.

Why is this game good?

It helps them practice rhymes
It helps them practice interrogative statements (making questions).
It helps them practice basic vocabulary and defining words in English.
Most importantly it helps them practice thinking and forming sentences in English.
Students like it!

Much thanks to Lauren, one of the awesome ladies I studied with in Spain, for introducing me to this game. She got us all hooked on it when we were waiting in line or on long public transportation rides.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Twitter 101

A lot of teachers are using Twitter in a lot of different ways. This is a good way for Twitter virgins to start using twitter with their class. In my opinion the EASIEST way (especially for technophobes) is to use it as an alternative to a class website.

You can use it to tweet homework assignments to keep students up to date.

Since I teach two different subjects I have two different hashtags. That means if I am making a tweet about an assignment for my high school students I include #Eng6ITESM. If the students have twitter they can easily keep track of the information I share.

If they don't have twitter, it is still pretty easy for them to go to my twitter feed ( or their class hashtag  (e.g. #LengExtranITESM or #Eng6ITESM)  for all the relevant tweets.

It also tends to be a much faster way to contact students and get immediate feedback than using their e-mail.

What kind of things should you share?

If you take one more step forward (using dropbox), you can place documents like the class rules, syllabus, due dates, assignment weights etc. as part of your profile (or when you tweet assignments include a direct link to it).

I usually tweet homework and assignments reminders, test score averages, and any random relevant information that I care to share and they know that if it has their hashtag, it is about their class.

I also like to put links to pictures of students work, or videos that they have done for my class. Sharing it with my other students makes them feel a bit of pride and then other students can learn from what they did.

Once you get more comfortable you can link it to a facebook to allow students another way to follow the information.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dropbox...another way to go green

So, my school is part of dropbox's "Space Race" in an effort to promote their site, help schools, and get people addicted to their pretty awesome product drop box is giving free space to students, teachers and anyone else with a school e-mail address who signs up. In addition, you get more space when others from your school join. As of November 8th 2012 ITESM, the University/High School I teach at in Mexico had 2,641 people with accounts making us the school with the most accounts in Mexico!

So I signed up in an effort to support my school and decided to do some research on how I could rock this site to the fullest as an educator.

My lovely dropbox folder where the students' assignments would show up
First off, I found a site called You make a site there and it gives you a link (in my case) Now, if I wanted to, I can give this site to my students as well as a password. Then they can go to the site enter the password and upload their assignments to my dropbox (which I can access anywhere that has Internet).  I can even get an e-mail which tells me when I get an e-mail.

Are there any downfalls? Well, you can get about 5MG storage for free by taking the tutorial and doing a few other things, otherwise it does cost to have a larger storage. If you just use it as a place for students to drop off assignments and you can pick them up (and move them elsewhere) then the limited storage should be fine.

Why use this instead of engrade, blackboard, edmodo, or all the other sites? Well this doesn't require students to have an account. All they need is to remember the password and link! Easy, peasy!
 It also lets me share files by making a public link (that I can tweet to my students) and they can use to download assignments.

If you don't have a drop box and are looking for some ways to go green you may want to consider it, you can sign up here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

British Council's Blog for October


The British Council's facebook page has shortlisted a recent Blog for their TeachingEnglish blog award for October.

"Here’s another of the English language teaching blog posts that we’ve shortlisted for this month’s TeachingEnglish blog award: 
– Comma Commotion! a presentation Carissa Peck’s students made about the four main uses of commas
Click “like” if you think it should be the winner of this month’s TeachingEnglish blog award!"

If you like it, give it a "like" here (or click on the picture).

If you haven't checked out the post yet you can find it


Friday, November 2, 2012

Teachers in Pop Culture!

When you think of a teacher who is the first person that pops into your head? Is it someone you actually know? Or is it something a bit more iconic? The good the bad and ugly, but we can learn from all of them!

1. OK, you probably shouldn't grade your essays like this, but there is something to be said about not writing too much on students essays. For one, they get overwhelmed, and it is more work for you! Make a good solid rubric and correct and comment only as needed.

Use songs in class! Yes, yes yes!!! However, try to make it a song with applicable vocabulary and grammar they can use again later. Not just random sounds (unless of course you are dealing with minimal pairs or doing a listening activity).

3. Again! Use movies!!! Movies are GREAT, but don't just put a movie on not give the students any instruction and tune out.

 I fully encourage teaching people how to swear (or how not to)! I usually do a lesson with my students on how to "fake" swear (shoot, cheese and crackers, fudge!). We all learn curse words in other languages pretty fast, but we don't learn those fake swear words. So go ahead and teach them, but you should probably avoid making it the focus of your class.

 DO teach your students different ways to say things! Tell them about different accents and words, but be sure to only do so when appropriate (not the first day of class)Penny Ur talked about this at a convention I went to in Spain. More here

 Mind Your Language has so much fun stuff it is hard to pick! For the sake of simplicity here's a good on that reminds you to teach pronunciation in the classroom, but perhaps do it with a bit more pizazz (think dictoglosses or minimal pairs).

 Know when to use the book and when to look past it. The book doesn't always have all of the answers :)

 DO share things about yourself with your students. DO make it clear that you are knowledgeable. DO NOT scream that your knowledge will bite their face off.

DO try to make class interesting. Get people from outside the class to stop or or skype: authors, and directors and good ones. On the other hand, just use yourself; dress up, bring in music or use anything you can to connect with your students.

DO be honest! I often tell my TOEFL students that the TOEFL is not my favorite test, however they still need to get a good score on it. So, no matter how much they, and I, may dislike the test, we all have to put our full effort into the class and learning our idioms, inferences and more!

I really had a hard time lowering this down to 10!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Who / Whom / Whose Examples

I was scrolling through Amazon the other day and I randomly kept seeing who and whom. I was reminded of my who/whose/whom post and decided to make another one quickly showing how the "ask a question" method works.

Since Halloween is next week, here's something seasonal to start
  Who saved Halloween? His saved... no wait that's not right. Him saved? That's wrong too! He saved! Since we used He to answer the question it must be who!

For whom the sleigh bell tolls
For whom does it toll? For THEM! So keep the M and use whom.

Who kicked the hornet's nest? SHE did! Not her did.
For whom does the dog bark? For thee! Since we don't really use thee anymore let's try him, them or her!
Whose teeth were all alike? His teeth! Since the teeth were his we keep the S and say whose.

Whom did he sleep with? He slept with him! Oh Bill Cosby, you never cease to get my attention.

Whose mom? The mom is his or hers! So keep that S and use whose!

Seems to me like the rule works! So don't be like the confused owl and know if it is who or him. Just remember if it is he or him and then you'll never miss!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Reference Words

Another helpful and clever (I think) review of reference words from one of my high school classes. If you teach reference words it may help your students as well.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Comma Commotion!

A presentation my students made about the four main uses of commas

I thought it was pretty cute!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alternate Hangman (The Hangman you knew and loved, but more physical)

When I was young I remember spending HOURS playing hangman with my brother while my parents prepped for their own classes.

Many teachers that don't have much training start out with limited games and one of the go-tos is Hangman. It helps with word recognition, can be used to review vocabulary and is a great filler since it requires little to no prep. It isn't just for EFL and English classes; I can recall this being used in many of my classes throughout high school. We would use it in history (e.g. with president's names, battles, treaties), geography (e.g. countries, rivers, mountain ranges) etc. This version is a twist on the classic hangman that can be used in any class!

It was presented at a GEPIK conference I attended in 2008, while I was in Korea. I do not remember the name of the teacher, but she was a younger lady who was clearly overwhelmed at being told to help a group of 100+ new GEPIK teachers with activities for class, nonetheless she did really well.

One of her games was adapted hangman! I don't remember the specifics of her set up, but this is how I have used it over the years. I understand she used it mainly as a filler, but I suggest using it for a vocabulary review, OR to review pretty much anything.
You can play this game two ways.

For both versions you need a target for the students to hit. You can make one out of cardboard/poster board and hang it on a wall or just draw one on the board. The point is to make the rarer letters on the outside (easier to hit) and the more popular letters on the inside (harder to hit). I made a sample here, but you can adapt it anyway you like. You may choose to have more letters in the middle or only 3 different area to hit (instead of my 5). You're the teacher so make it however you like!

  1. Divide the class into teams.
  2. Go around the classroom with each team getting a turn.
  3. When it is the first team's turn let them throw a beanbag at the target. Whatever section it hits is the section they can pick a letter from. (so if they hit the green ring they can choose, N, B U, C, R or M)
  4. My rule is they can talk together as a group to decide but if I hear anything that's not English they forfeit their turn and the next group goes.
  5. For this version I gave them a point for each letter they chose in the word (if there were two of the letter they got two points).
  6. The team with the most points when the word was completed wins.

  1. Divide the classroom into two teams.
  2. Ask revision questions about the topic you wish to review.
  3. Either with a bell, raising their hand, etc. Give the first team to “buzz in” the chance to answer the question.
  4. If they get it right they have a chance to throw the beanbag and guess a letter OR they can simply try to “solve” the puzzle.
  5. If they get it wrong the other teams have a chance to steal, and then throw the beanbag and guess a letter or “solve” the puzzle.
  6. No points are given for correct or incorrect answers, points are ONLY given to the team who guesses the word (or completes it).
  7. If time permits after one word is guessed you can put another, and another until the time allotted is up.
Why add the beanbag throwing in the first place? With younger students (and even older students) the addition of the physical makes it more fun (and more like a real sport, not just a language game).

The reason the speaker added that in her class she had a few students who were physically competent. They played sports they were active and they had killer reflexes... but they struggled in English. When she divided the class into groups often students would be audibly disappointed when these students joined their group. By adding this physical component, they were no longer seen as liabilities and instead were viewed as assets. This helped their self-esteem and also classroom dynamics! I hate to perpetuate the stereotype of a “dumb” jock as it is not the norm (in my opinion) but if your class has students like this then try it may help.

So there you go: an easy twist on the classic Hangman!

If you have a chance to use it in your class please let us know! Or, if you have a different way of using hangman, I'd LOVE to hear it!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Modifier Memes

In class we were reviewing the importance of where things are in a sentence. Participial phrases, appositives, relative clauses, and all other modifiers need to be near the noun they are referring to or the sentence changes. To prove this fact a student made this.

Not perfect grammar, but the point is there :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

5 little Pumpkins (family version)

A family of pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The mommy said, "Oh, my it's late!"
The daddy said, "I don't care!"
The sister said, "There are witches in the air!"
The brother said, "Let's run away!"
And the baby said, "Boo! It's Halloween. Yay!"
Then Whoooooosh... went the wind,
And out went the light!
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

I know the original version is different (and great for ordinal numbers), but this was my Halloween adaptation when I taught preschoolers English(EFL for some ESL for others) in Spain.

If you aren't interested in my version and only came here looking for the original there are several books you can look into

Some people consider this a song, others a poem, and still others a fingerplay. I like to think of it as a song, but really it doesn't matter what you call it! If you aren’t familiar with it check out the YouTube video above the hand motions are great, and they LOVE the Boo!

My students ADORED it, and it was a fun review of family members. You could teach it several different ways, but this is what I did.
1.      We started class normally with the Hello song, and we reviewed our emotions (happy, hungry, sleepy, etc.). I introduced a new emotion, scared!
2.      We did quick flashcards of the family to review and I showed them the pumpkins. I asked which pumpkin was the baby? Which pumpkin was the mommy? Etc. Then we quickly cut out each pumpkin (by quickly I mean we cut out the pumpkins as squares, not as circles). Each student wrote their name on the back so the pumpkins didn’t get confused later (and to get them to practice their letters again).
3.      I drew a gate and a witch on the board and we learned the words.
4.      I said the five little pumpkins song and each time I said a family member I held up my pumpkin and had them hold up theirs.
5.      Then we repeated the song, line by line. I sang it, they repeated.
6.      I selected 5 students to be the pumpkins they would come up with one pumpkin family member and we would sing the song. They would hold their family pumpkin in their air when we said their part. (Repeat until all students who want to can come up to the class and be a pumpkin)
7.   As long as they enjoy the song and you have fun keep going! It is really great practice and repetition is key at this age.
8.      Review colors (What color is the sky? What color is a pumpkin? What color is grass?)
9.      For older (my four and five year olds) students they colored their pumpkins and then pasted them to the gate paper. My younger students (the three year olds) were divided, some cut, and some just colored a pre-made page (the last one in this packet)
10.  For fast finishers I also put a witch, some bats, some grass and the phrase, “Happy Halloween” that they can cut out and paste to the picture

Here are some sample worksheets should you choose to use them.

Five Little Pumpkins
This is another easy example of how to use something that already exists and tweak it for your class. You could change this to review animals (5 different animals sitting on a gate, the bird said etc.), colors (the blue one said), adjectives (the small one said), jobs (the doctor said), and SO MUCH MORE! Get creative, and use this song for whatever works best for you.

Have you tweaked a song and had it work for you? Or do you have another activity you like for the 5 little pumpkins? Let us know in the comments

I had the honor to guest blog a Springtime version of this read more about that
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