Have you ever wondered how best to get kids engaged in a book you’re studying in class? Activities!!! Students generally enjoy walking around, talking, moving parts of their body, anything at all but sit and read long, long passages. As the school year is coming to an end, I’m reflecting on some of my successful practices as a teacher of Language Arts which my students testified to have worked for them:

  1. Vocabulary Charades: Students find a list of new words from our study text, look up their meaning and think up the best way to demonstrate these words using their bodies. Being able to associate words with their own actions stamps the meaning to their minds.
  2. Pictionary: This is similar to charade; the difference is that students provide a pictorial representation of what each vocabulary word means instead of acting it out. Dividing the class into groups for this activity encourages collaboration so that while those good with drawing are creating the images, the ‘researchers’ are looking up the words in a dictionary or on a computer and others are interpreting the meanings in their own words. At the end, papers containing images and meanings of words are posted on the wall of the classroom for display and constant revision.
  3. Hot Potato Game: Why not turn your students’ favorite game into a teaching style? That’s what we did with the hot potato game in my grades 5 and 6 class! We pass about an imaginary hot potato (usually an empty pencil case), with students sitting on the floor (or standing, depending on space. PS: you can try this outside too!), in a circle, and whoever catches the ‘potato’ last immediately the song ends has to answer a question on what we’re learning else they’re kicked out of the game. You do this on and on while singing the hot potato song until only two students are left, one of whom emerges winner. You should see the frenzy this builds. The game also helped my students prepare for their third quarter exams because even learning can be playful. You could also use this game to revise their vocabulary words.
A Hot Potato Game with students of LEA Primary School, Gwarimpa coordinated by grade 7 students of CTL Academy – Abuja, Nigeria

Here is the lyrics to the hot potato song:

Hot potato, hot potato,

Who has the hot potato?

If you have the hot potato

You’re out!

Check Google for more variations of the song.

  1. Read Alouds: Never underestimate the importance of a great read aloud. I have helped my students discover the joy of what I call ‘emotive reading’ because why read out a line in a tone that suggests you’re dying when in fact, your character is ALIVE and excited? Why read paragraphs and paragraphs alone as the teacher when you can share the characters among your students and allow them bring the text to life? It doesn’t have to be a play to be dramatic. Prose or poetry, any piece of writing has characters. Allow your class do the magic by assigning your students to different characters. My big win for this method is that my students adapted my teaching style for their independent reading. I walked into class one morning and found one of my students reading aloud to the whole class, in a variety of tones, like a typical storyteller! On one of our Drop Everything and Read moments, three students, who were reading same book, sat by a corner, divided the characters among themselves and took turns reading out lines as they would do in my class. It was a great sight to behold!

There is still a lot to share and perhaps I should do this every other week until the end of the school year. For now, do let me know which of these activities will work for your students and which wouldn’t and why. See you around. 💕

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