Monday, January 25, 2010

Teaching kids: In your pocket

When I took the TESOL course, we talked about having some conversation starters “in your pocket."

While I can improvise with adults, it’s harder to entertain children “on the fly,” especially without visual aids.

I realized lately that some of the challenges that I have with teaching both at church and in the orphanage come with capturing all the kids’ interest at the same time and starting the lesson with everyone together.

The “presentation” part of the lesson is often the most important since everything else builds off of it. If a few kids are late or don’t tune in right away, then the rest of the lesson probably won’t go very well either...

If you only have one attentive student at the beginning of the lesson, and you decide to wait, you may lose your one enthusiastic student. On the other hand, if you use up your introduction material right away, latecomers will be lost.

So I was thinking that I need to have some back-up activities on hand: something that is educational and serves to engage the kids as they gather. A few no-fail games that will always work. Any ideas?


  1. You are talking about having an "Anticipatory Set" - somebody's "teacher language" for what you are describing....getting all the students engaged in the topic of the lesson simultaneously.

    Here is what I have found works well in our religion classes.... I have some sort of written review activity ready for the kids who come early - so that they have something to do that helps get their mind ready for class. (This is usually "fun" more than a puzzle with the vocab words from the last lesson.) Then when all are present, the lesson will actually begin with some sort of "focus activity" (which is what I call it). That can be anything - a game, or just an opportunity to share on a topic...but the more interesting and engaging, the better. I'd be more than happy to share some of these if you throw me topics. I've got lots... e-mail me if you want!

  2. That sounds a bit more complicated. I was looking for something that wouldn't require print-outs, etc. Just pull out the cards or bouncy ball or whatever and start the game. It could be adjusted to different topics but I wouldn't have to spend hours preparing. I'll e-mail you when I get the chance.


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