This week, I started the rotation with my fourth LET (Local English Teacher), Teacher Christina, at Huludun Elementary School. I was tasked with creating a lesson plan for first graders about Lois Ehlert's picture book, The Color Zoo. The book teaches children the names of different animals and shapes.
My LET and I chose to solely focus on teaching the names of various shapes to the students this time to avoid overwhelming them with new vocabulary: circle, square, triangle, rectangle, oval, heart, hexagon, octagon, and diamond. So altogether, nine vocabulary words.
The literature on vocabulary acquisition for ESL (English as a Second Language) learners indicates that teachers should avoid introducing more than seven new vocabulary words per lesson. Because we knew that many students were already familiar with a few of the shapes (i.e. circle, heart, and square), we felt comfortable introducing all of the shapes in one lesson.
I started off with a PPT introducing the title of the book and the different shapes. We used TPR (Total Physical Response, a teaching method that involves the coordination of physical movement and language learning) to model the different types of shapes with our hands and arms.
Then, we watched a video with an audio recording of the book (see here), which makes it fun for the students by turning the text into a song and adding the sounds of different animals (such as a lion roaring, snake hissing, and mouse squeaking). I stood next to the projector and modeled the different hand/arm movements for the shapes for reinforcement.
Before the students arrived, I placed felt pieces cut into different shapes and a piece of paper on top of every desk. Once the students walked in, the LET urged them to not play with the felt pieces during our lesson and leave them be until Teacher Abby said they could touch them. I was actually very surprised at how well-behaved the first graders were, because we didn't have any issues with students following directions for all four of our first grade classes!
A photo of the felt pieces and paper on the students' desks before they entered the classroom.
I made an example for the students (far right) before class!
In the last 15 minutes of class, I finally revealed what we were going to do with the felt pieces. I showed the following PPT slide, which broke down the different shapes used to make the fox in The Color Zoo (complete with animation!). I asked the students to count the number of shapes individually on their desks before revealing the answers.
Finally, I told the students to begin glueing the shapes onto their papers! There were a few glue emergencies -- some students squirted out practically half the bottle of glue onto their desks -- but all in all, it was a huge success! If I were to do this activity over again - and had more time to prepare additional shapes - I would've allowed the students to create their own animals using their imagination.
The students loved working with their hands to make their own little fox, which they were allowed to take home with them. I enjoy engaging tactile learners in my schools because I feel like students don't get enough of it in English class. I try to find ways to accommodate as many different learning styles in my classes as possible (visual, tactile, aural, verbal, logical, social, and solitary). It's a work in progress, but I'm continuously discovering new ways to do so as the semester progresses!
Students hard at work making their foxes come to life!
The finished product - so adorable!
So proud of their masterpieces. Seeing how happy the students were made the hours of meticulous cutting of the shapes worthwhile! (Altogether, I cut out 448 triangles and 224 circles for four classes).
All in all, I had so much fun with this lesson. It gives me encouragement to incorporate more arts & crafts activities in my English classes at both schools. Felt in Taiwan is relatively cheap and sold at many bookstores/stationary stores, and there are all sorts of colors to choose from. So it's both cost-effective and exciting for the students!