Most of these activities involve the teacher in various roles. They are:
- Narrating the main story (often for the class to repeat)
- Providing additional explanations/embellishments to assure class
- Acting as a director/manager of individual students and whole
class activity in response to individual slides.
It'll make your life much easier if the class know when you've switched back from the second two roles to the first and are once again narrating the main story for them to repeat.
The easiest way to help them here is this: whenever you are about to move on to the next part of the story, you stand in the same spot (probably next to the computer) and hold up your finger in the same way, asking "Are you ready?" before displaying the next slide, narrating it and gesturing with an open hand for them to repeat.
If your gestures are always the same, this is clear signposting. If you are then going to provide further explanations or directions, move away from your 'narrator's' spot to do this.
Activity #1 Voice of the Melon!
Warmer and pre-language
As this activity involves the children passing something to each other, it might be a good idea to teach them:
- Here you are.
- Thank you.
before you even begin to tell the story. One effective way to do this is to have the children sit in one large circle. The teacher passes the first child an object. The teacher says "Here you are" and the child has to actually look at the teacher and then reply "Thank you". The first child then turns to the second in the circle and gives them the object saying "Here you are" and the object progresses round the circle till it gets back to the teacher again - with the teacher making sure that each child has articulated the target language properly. The same, or another, object goes round the other way, or various objects one after another. If the chosen object is an everyday one like a pen or a book, this will help not to get the class too excited early on. If the class need some excitement, use the melon which is used in the main activity itself and if you want to get the children's imagination fired early on, try passing round imaginary objects (if you're passing round an imaginary glass vase or sculpture, you could also introduce the extra language "Be careful!").
Main Activity (melon and thick permanent marker required)
Get a large yellow melon out of your bag. Why a melon? Because it's heavy, so the children will have to handle it carefully (not like a ball that they might be inclined to throw at each other) and because it's also not usually seen in the classroom, it's a bit unusual, a bit special.
- What is it? T
- It's a melon. Ss
- Good, now ask me the question. T
- What is it? Ss
Produce the marker. One child comes to the front and draws an eye on the melon where the teacher tells them to (only one eye!). A second child a second eye and a third child a mouth. This way you have 3 children involved instead of one. You could even have a child hold the melon firm throughout the drawing of the face - so that's four.
If they make a botch of it, turn the melon round and let them start again! Tell the children that we don't normally draw on fruit but the melon has thick skin which we cut off so we're not wasting it.
When the face is ready, introduce the melon as Lellow. Tell the class they're going to hear a story. The whole class will repeat what the teacher says for every page and after that then just the child who has the melon (Lellow) will repeat it on their own. If the teacher gives them the thumbs up, then that child then passes the melon/Lellow to another child (and that's where your "Here you are/Thank you" comes in. The teacher shows the next slide, models it, the class as a whole say it and then the new child with the melon says it. Continue till the story is told.
Options: Either the children pick who they are going to give the melon to, which works well with smaller classes but will take longer as deciding who goes next in a classroom activity is quite an important decision in the daily life of an infant (and probably the most responsibility they will be given all morning/afternoon) or the melon follows some sort of pre-determined route (in which case you have the classic problem of some children going to sleep at the other end).
More options: If the children are deciding who goes next, you may wish to instigate the 'nobody goes twice before everybody's had a turn rule' - although on occasions I like to waiver this rule to keep everybody on their toes.
Note: the interactive melon part of the activity will divert the group's attention away from the story, so they will need that redirecting back before changing each slide: Okay, everybody ready? Say "Ready". [next slide].
Activity #2 Balloon Actors for Speech/Thought Bubbles
Red and yellow balloons and marker pen required.
At various points in the stories, Reg speaks and Lellow thinks. Choose a story in which there is a reasonable amount of this and bring in a number of red and yellow balloons (you should only need one of each but it's best to have spares).
Once the students are familiar with the story, blow up a red and a yellow balloon and have the children draw two eyes and a mouth on each. The can also draw Reg's arm.
Two children stand at the front, one with the Reg balloon and one with the Lellow balloon.
On the slides where either Reg speaks or Lellow thinks, the teacher narrates the main story to the class for them to repeat as a whole and then turns to the respective character and says: Reg says:... or Lellow thinks...
The respective child the repeats whatever it is that the teacher has modelled. For example:
- Reg says: I want it! (T)
- I want it! (S)
Option: If there's not enough action and the two balloon actors are getting bored and fidgety, then the teacher can invent something, adapting it on the spot from the main narrative and turning to one of the actors with:
- Lellow says: ... (T)
After each actor has spoken twice, two new actors are chosen. Even though there are only ever two children up at the front, the whole class is participating in the central narrative and the teacher can still single out individuals from the rest of the class to repeat the main narrative whenever she/he wants to.
Note on balloons: Logic would dictate that all kids like balloons. But let's face it, not all adults like balloons so why should all kids? I once had a small group of 4 and 5 year olds who developed a sudden fear of the ballons I was trying to get them to take from me and collectively refused to hold them! If there's a kid in your class that's holding their ears and looks terrified that a balloon might pop, then that's probably because they are terrified. And given that it's fairly likely that a balloon will pop at some point, then it's better to allow that child to switch places with someone at the back, so that they are further away from the balloons. Likewise, best not to force any child to stand at the front with a balloon if they are scared.
Activity #3 BalloonLESS Actors for Speech/Thought Bubbles
Activity #4 Balloon Actors for Actions
This activity involves having a balloon for each character in the story and selected students performing the actions out front. For Story Four, for example, you would need a red (Reg), yellow (Lellow), purple (the purple balloon that Reg is trying to reach in the story itself) and white balloon (Smol - with eyes and legs and circle body drawn on).
If you go to the materials section, you'll find simplified stage directions for this activity with Story Four. It's a good idea to have in your mind the basic movements that the actors are going to have to perform before they begin.
If you want to get away from balloons completely, there will be some colourable character templates/cards appearing in the materials section soon and this activity could equally be done with those.
Activity #5 Quick Board Sketches
If you are working in a room without a projector, or you haven't time to boot up the computer, you can simply sketch out a simplified version of the story on the board, explaining and drilling the story as you go.
To show how easily the stories can be represented, I've included photos of the original concept drawings for Arms, Smol, Balloon, Friends and Get Off!, a forthcoming story, in the Extra Materials section. You could even print these off and use them as a guide. Before you begin, it's probably worth deciding on the number of pictures you're going to draw and what each one will contain - that will just make your boardwork that much faster, and help you keep the students' concentration.
Once the sketches are on the board, the teacher can rub some of them out and have students come and redraw the pictures. If you are working with a chalk board, and have coloured chalk, each student could come up and colour one of the characters in. If the students are that bit older, you could even add text.
Activity #6 Picture Dictation
Details and an example of this activity can be found in the Extra Materials section.
Step 1 – Hand out paper and show the students how to fold it 3 times, crease it (sit on it!) and then unfold it.
Step 2 – They will now have 8 boxes. They number the boxes as below.
Step 3 – You dictate to them what they should draw in each box (as simplified version of the story).
This is for ‘Friends’.
Before you begin, it's a good idea if you as teacher have already decided exactly what each of the 8 boxes will contain.
If your students are going to need a lot of support with this, you could even do Activity 5 above, first, and leave it on the board.