As an elementary Spanish teacher, I am constantly on the lookout for new and novel ways to for teaching languages to kids while giving them practice and reinforcing vocabulary. However, there are those activities that stand the test of time. Ones I return to again and again for their versatility, effectiveness, and general fun! Here are three I find to be great workhorses in the classroom; tried and true classics that provide opportunity for practice at any age level.
Activities for Teaching Languages to Kids
With endless possibilities for vocabulary practice, Bingo is that all-time fantastic activity to reinforce listening comprehension! Kids are usually familiar with how to play it. Therefore, it is easy to incorporate bingo into a foreign language classroom without translating the instructions. One thing I like to do is play along with my students, thus allowing me to model additional game vocabulary. For example, ‘Yay!’, ‘One more!’, ‘Rats!’, ‘I have ___’, etc.
As with Bingo, Charades is a game that can be played with a wide range of vocabulary sets. I like the opportunity for my students to be able to get up and out of their seats in order to play. It provides both comprehension and speaking practice. Students must name the vocabulary item in order to guess what is being acted out. A support I like to provide to my students is a set of visuals that represent the vocabulary we are working on.
For example, if the Charades game we are playing is comprised of vocabulary related to the forest, I have all the words illustrated using cards so there is a reference point for those guessing. This also helps those kiddos who may have challenges with recall, as I also make sure all visuals are labeled.
Formulating questions can be a challenge for language learners, but 20 Questions allows practice of this skill within a fun format. For novice learners, be sure to keep the mystery items very concrete and provide scaffolding in terms of posted questions they can use as supports to be sure the game doesn’t stall.
As with Charades, I also like to have a visual word bank handy so that students have some idea what might be the mystery item. There are many ways you can set this game up. For example, by including having a mystery item in a bag, taped to a student’s back, or on slips of paper.
What activities are YOUR classroom favorites for teaching languages to kids? We would love to hear!
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