I am pretty sure you are all using a high quality and well-designed course book which offers both teachers and students a wide variety of activities to make your lessons fun and engaging. However, is there a way to adapt some activities in our course book to spice up our lessons even more?
Text By Myrsini Verdoukas - FLS owner, Author
Yes, there is! It is called ‘Edutainment-ing’ your course book, which means turning course book material into edutainment activities, thus providing your students with a holistic hands-on-approach to learning English and in this way creating an ideal environment for language acquisition rather than language learning. The games and activities in a syllabus based on Edutainment are not only suitable for preschoolers as teachers usually believe - but can also be adapted and used to supplement any course book material used in junior and senior classes.
I believe that children have the innate ability to learn a language naturally and unconsciously when they are exposed to the language they are learning through fun and creative hands-on-activities.
Edutainment material – such as the material included in My Edutainment World 1 – not only focuses on teaching English but also aims to equip students with important life skills. To get the desired results your students should be exposed to the language in a natural way but always bearing in mind that just walking into a class saying: “Today we are going to bake a cake.” is not an edutainment way of teaching. It takes more than that. Arts and crafts, cooking, yoga, science, fun and many more are some of the ways to put edutainment into practice.
Here are a few examples:
1 Your course book lesson is about insects and bugs. After you have done the presentation and relevant vocabulary exercises from your course book I suggest doing yoga or a cooking activity to enable your students to consolidate the newly learnt vocabulary. For example, print out flashcards for each insect or bug and find a simple yoga pose to represent the insect or bug. Show pupils the flashcard of an insect and get them to repeat the word. Then get them to do the yoga pose which represents the word. They will practice the newly introduced language in an informal and enjoyable way, thus learning without realizing it. Another example is to consolidate the vocabulary by doing a cooking activity. Your students can create the bugs and insects they have learnt by using fruit and vegetables.
2 You can use drama fun and storytelling to enable your students to put into practice newly learnt vocabulary and grammar. For instance, you have just taught modal verbs or ailments. Set up a doctor’s surgery in your classroom and provide your students with some props. Pupil’s take turns being the doctor and the patient and encourage them to use the target vocabulary. I would provide younger students with a basic example but I would let my older students improvise and create their own dialogue.
3 Another great idea is using arts and crafts to encourage students to actually use the language. For instance, you have taught verbs of ability and ‘can’. Get your students to create their own unique robot. After they create their robot, they will need to present it to the class by giving it a name, saying where it is from and mentioning three things it can do and two things it cannot do.
4 Another awesome idea is to use science experiments, stem challenges or even gardening to enable your students to practice a new grammar structure and to make it more meaningful and fun. Let’s say you are teaching conditionals. You can do the blubber science experiment. The pupils can record their findings as they do the experiment and use the relevant conditional to present the results of the experiment. Or you can plant some seeds in different settings and record the results and its growth over the duration of time.
5 Another way to ‘Edutain’ your course book is to use your students as grammar statues to explain grammar. Here is an example of how I used my students to teach the gerund and infinitive. Ask a student to come forward and dress him up as an elderly man, introduce him to the class as Mr. Gerund and then ask another student to come forward and dress her up with a hat, a handbag and accessories. This is Mrs. Infinitive she never goes anywhere without her accessories in the same way as the verb never goes anywhere without ‘to’. Now ask a third student to come forward and dress him/her up in brown clothes. Introduce Miss Bare Infinitive to your class and say Miss. Bare infinitive is a tree. It has no leaves it is bare just like the verb is bare, it takes no –ing or –to. Yes, you need to add humour and make it funny and in this way they will never forget the rules.
6 Last but not least, you can adapt one or two of your grammar exercises in your course book to drill the newly learnt grammar into a fun and engaging game. I will give you an example on how I used an edutainment activity to consolidate the gerund and infinitive. This activity can be used to teach any grammar structure or vocabulary. Create an outdoor game by dividing your students into two teams. Place three buckets a few metres away. Label one bucket gerund, the other full infinitive and the other bare infinitive. Designate a starting and turning point. Place a bucket with about 40 potatoes at the starting point. Before the lesson use a marker to write a verb or expression on each potato. The aim of the game is for the members of each team to grab a potato and according to the verb written on it to run and put the potato into the correct bucket.
When your students have finished the activity, give them a list to check if the potatoes are in the correct bucket. By doing this fun activity they are learning in an informal way without realizing and they will feel more confident and willing to efficiently complete two or three more exercises in their course book to consolidate the newly learnt language.
I can go on forever and ever with fun activities to engage your students, to encourage implicit and incidental learning. The benefits of ‘edutainment-ing’ your course book are endless. Your students will learn English subconsciously while learning how to work and communicate as a team. They will learn important life skills and they will feel safe and open to experiment with the language. And above all, they will love coming to your lessons and will develop a close bond with you. In this way they will be your students for life.
The secret is not to think outside the box but to think like there is no box! •