What A Teaching Toolkit Is And Why You Should Have One
The ‘Teacher Tool Kit’ refers to the repertoire of games and activities that you know you can use at the drop of a hat to enliven your lesson. It contains a selection of reusable and multi-purposed materials, games, activities, songs or lesson ideas that are easily adaptable for students of different ages and levels. To put together a ‘Teacher Tool Kit’ you will need a special box, bag or cupboard to store your materials in. These materials don’t have to be expensive and can include things like bits of cloth, a ball, a magic wand, a deck of cards, a bell, some puppets and a few of your favourite stories. Having these things on hand can help save a lesson because, as you know, things don’t always go as planned in the young learner classroom. Your ‘Tool Kit’ is your Plan B and every good Young Learner teacher has one.
My Teaching Toolkit Top 5
I have accumulated (probably way too many) things over the years that I like to have on hand when I teach. If I have choose my top 5 most versatile and effective teaching materials, these would be the ones.
1. Bean bags
They may take a little time at the beginning to make but they will last you for years and are fun, safe, and can be used with children of all ages in many many different ways. Here is one a tutorial for how to make them yourself from www.sewyoustudio.com. These are my 2,5 year olds on their first ever day of English class. It was great to see them interacting with each other (albeit with only one word!) in the foreign language so early on.
2. Calm Down Bottles
These can also be used for so many different actives but I love them at the start of the year to put in my Calm Corner. Yes, that’s right! I like to create a cosy cubby in a corner of the room for when children feel they need a quiet time. The video below is also from one of my classes. You’ll find this and many other ideas on my Instagram.
3. Magic Wand
Every teacher needs a little magic from time to time and this particular wand design has the added bonus of doubling as a bubble wand….whaaaat?! How awesome is that?!
The tutorial for the magical wands in the photos below can be found at www.artfulparent.com
4. Mystery Box
This is a pre and primary school classic! It’s used as a way of generating interest and getting them to make predictions about the topic that you will be working on in the lesson. It should be big enough to have at least a few small items related to the topic inside. You can put holes in the sides to allow them to put their hands in to feel what’s there.
5. Dancing Rings
Great for moments of music and movement, you’ll be able to incorporate these into many games and songs to add an extra fun factor and get kids crossing that mid-line and working on their gross motor skills. They are easy-peasy to make but seem to be all over Etsy.com as well. The beautiful ones in the photo are from IndieBambinoToys.
Now Here Are Some Ideas For How To Use Them
Bean Bag Toss
Show them a bean-bag (or other soft object that can be thrown and caught). Show them how you throw and catch it. Throw it in the air and say ‘throw!’ and ‘catch’ as it falls back into your hands. Then look dramatically around the room as if looking for someone. Ask ‘Where’s, (Ana)?’. Continue to look and repeat the question. When Ana or the others respond, emphasize in English “She’s here!”. Very gently and slowly throw the bean-bag for that child to catch. Repeat ‘throw’ as you throw it and ‘catch’ as it lands in that child’s hands. Encourage her to say hello back to you. Make a point of looking into the child’s eyes and smiling as you do so. Then that child gently throws it back to you. You can continue like this with all the children. If you have more bean-bags or balls, put them in pairs to throw it back and forth, greeting each other with smiles and eye contact. Encourage them to say ‘hello’ as they throw.
Here is a game I use after reading the story Winnie The Witch by Valerie Thomas or (my current favorite) The Magic Hat by Mem Fox. You can also use this at any moment in the lesson when you think the kids need a brain break with some physical movement.
Everybody listen and look at me,
You are a rabbit,
When I count to 3…
I learned this chant originally from Carol Read many many years ago. I just added the wand and the magic word at the end! I love it because the wait time you give children by counting to three is so beneficial.
Move students to a place in the room where there is space for everyone to sit in a circle. Bring out the Mystery Box that has a mirror lying flat on the bottom of the box. Sing the “What’s in The Box?” song and have everyone slap their knees as they sing along.
(Sung to the tune of The Farmer In The Dell)
What’s in box?
Oh what’s in the box?
Oh What’s in the box?
Encourage the learners to guess what is in the box. Open it, look inside and quickly look surprised. Tell them there is something very very special in the box. Pass the box around the circle and let each child have a turn at opening the box and looking at their reflection in the mirror. Encourage them to say who they see looking back at them. Everyone is special!
Add an extra sensory factor when you are talking about the weather. Add different objects to your sensory bottles so each one represents a different weather condition: yellow pompoms in blue water for sunny, blue water beads for rainy, small leaves for windy, etc. Ask the class what the weather is like today and have the helper shake up the bottle that corresponds to their answer.
The last day of a school week is always tough. Everyone is tired and just that bit harder to engage in any cognately challenging work. I would always save time at the end of a Friday lesson for Free Dancing! The kids get to choose any song they want to listen to and we’d get out the Ribbon Rings and dance around like only young, uninhibited children can. It’s the perfect way to end the week on a high note and have them coming back, eager for more English on Monday.
You can follow me on Pinterest to get more of my ideas for your Teacher Toolkit.
If you live in Sao Paulo and want to get ready for 2019, come to the workshop on the 7th December and put together your own Teacher-Tool Kit with me and the Active English teaching community. BTW Active English teachers get a HUGE discount to this event so subscribe and you’ll receive the link to the discount.