With the holiday season approaching, it’s good to add some fun into teaching to keep your students engaged and motivated. We’ve created 12 simple classroom activities and tips that you can carry out with your primary class to encourage them to be good.
3 activities to nurture creativity in the classroom
What keeps people from exercising their creative potential? From negative past experiences to the way we see ourselves, there are many things that can hold us back, no matter how old we are. As teachers, it’s our job to help each individual find out what their creative barriers are, whether internal, external or imagined.
Our classrooms, therefore, need to become places where we nourish emotional safety and welcome mistakes. As such, we should encourage a culture that promotes failing as part of learning.
Here are three activities to help nurture creativity in the primary classroom.
Activity one: My whole self
In this activity, students express themselves in words and images, using a life-sized drawing of their bodies. The aim of this is to help them share their feelings and ideas. With a little adaptation, it can work just as well with teens and young learners.
Before the lesson, ensure you have enough cardboard or paper for each student. Each piece will need to be approximately 2m long. If you’re using paper, roll it into tubes, so it’s easier to distribute to each student later.
In class, hand out the paper/cardboard to each student. Tell them to draw a life-size outline of themselves on the paper. Students working online can copy the outline you share onto a large piece of paper. They can do this in their notebooks if they don’t have any paper to hand.
In teen classes
Tell the students that they are free to use their creativity. They should draw, write, and express themselves however they want. If they are stuck for ideas, ask them:
- How do you feel?
- What are your ambitions?
- What are you worried about?
- What do you enjoy?
- What are you looking forward to?
Note that questions should be adapted to your students’ age and level of English.
During the activity, your students can use colors, stickers, magazines – and anything that will help them express what is in their minds and hearts.
A note on using this activity in elementary classes
Primary-aged students will need more support. Here are some example instructions:
- In your right hand, write what you do when you feel frustrated.
- In your right foot, write your favorite song.
- In your left leg, write the name of the person you get good advice from.
- In your right arm, write what makes you happy.
- In your left hand, write your greatest dream.
- In your left foot, write which cartoon character you would like to be.
- In your left leg, write what you like to do in your free time.
- In your left arm, write things you value the most.
- On your stomach write your favorite meal.
Afterwards, students should explain what they’ve included in their silhouettes to the rest of the class. Encourage students to ask each other respectful questions.
Activity two: Message in the box
The aim of this activity is to establish a routine where students can share their ideas, thoughts and feelings on a regular basis.
Have students bring an old box into class (of any type). Encourage them to personalize their boxes with decorative paper, markers, crayons, stickers, etc.
Instruct students to write an idea, feeling, thought or question down. The complexity of the task will depend on the grade you teach and their level of English. Topic ideas include:
- What are you grateful for today?
- How do you feel today?
- What do you wish for?
- What do you do when you’re angry?
- What do you like most about yourself?
Have your students write their answers and put them in the box. When everyone has finished, they should take turns to choose a piece of paper at random and read it out loud to the group.
Wrap up this activity by asking the class, “What things do we have in common as a group?”. This way students will see that everyone has similar worries and dreams and hopefully they’ll be more willing to talk about their feelings in future classes.
Keep the box in a safe place and review the notes after a month to see if peoples' thoughts and feelings have changed since they did the activity.
Activity three: Activity story board
The ideal class environment is one where students feel challenged, but not overwhelmed. The aim of this activity is to have students reflect on the challenges they have faced in their day-to-day learning and think about what they need to do to improve.
On a blank piece of paper, ask students to draw two vertical lines and one horizontal line to form six boxes. They should number each box from 1 to 6. Students should then write a challenge or objective in box number six. It should be something that they would like to improve, for example, studying habits, reading skills, doing homework, getting better at exam results, etc. Then encourage them to think of five things they can do to help them reach their objective and write them in boxes 1-5.
- Read at least two paragraphs every day
- Draw what I think is the main idea on paper.
- Look up the meaning of words I don´t understand.
- Try to increase the number of paragraphs I read each week.
- Make a monthly progress chart to see if I have improved. If not, I need to work on another strategy.
- My objective: Ex. Get better at reading comprehension quizzes.
Provide students with your support and constructive feedback. Have them share their objectives with the rest of the class and every couple of weeks check how they are doing.
Remember to praise their ideas and efforts to improve. Students are more motivated when they feel their teachers are invested in their success.
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Sometimes, it’s nice to share cultural insights with our students so they can get a deeper understanding of the context of the language they are learning. However, without lots of time and money, it can be tough to travel to an English-speaking country yourself and experience what life is like first-hand.
But what if you could learn about British history, customs and culture from the comfort of your sofa?
That’s right - in an instant you could be transported back to the dark cobbled streets of 19th century London, to an industrial town in northern England or a rural village in Surrey.
Today, we want to share six English stories set in Britain that provide cultural, historical and social aspects of British life, both past and present.
So sit back, relax and let us take you on an adventure.
Written by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
This story about the intelligent and beautiful Emma was first published at the end of 1815. The book, which takes place in a fictional village called Highbury (located in the charming county of Surrey), covers themes such as romance, social class and female empowerment.
Emma is a social person who enjoys seeing people happy and contented. She spends her time arranging marriages between her friends but sometimes makes mistakes. Will the problems she causes upset people? And can she find love herself?
2. The Picture of Dorian Gray
Written by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
This philosophical yet supernatural thriller, first published in 1890, is full of lies, secrets and mystery. The tale revolves around the main character, Dorian Gray, who after inheriting a property from his grandfather, travels to London and soon makes new friends. One of his new acquaintances paints a portrait of Dorian, who makes a dangerous wish that he would give anything - even his soul - to stay as young and good-looking as he appears in the painting.
Soon, things start to go wrong and his life gets out of control. But he doesn’t seem to get older. Why? The terrible secret he’s hiding in his attic is the answer. What could it be? Allow yourself to travel back to Victorian times and see London through the eyes of this handsome and hedonistic young man.
Written by Mary Anne Evans (1819-1880)
Written under Mary’s pen name,George Elliott, this work of realism was first published in eight installments during 1871 and 1872. The story, set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch from 1829-1832, tells a tale of science and discovery. It follows Dorothea, a young woman determined to change the world and Dr. Lydgate, an ambitious man who wants to be a leader in science. Dorothea and Dr. Lydgate are both married, but soon their marriages go wrong.
Can they ever be happy? Will they achieve their dreams? Although the central theme of the book revolves around the marriage of the two main characters, with many historical references such as the 1832 Reform Act, the beginnings of the railways and the death of King George IV, Middlemarch is great for those who are interested in history as well as provincial life.
4. Four Weddings and a Funeral
Written by Richard Curtis (born 1956)
Those looking for a more modern look at British life can learn plenty about customs and cultures in this contemporary book, which has been adapted from one of Britain’s funniest and most popular films. Released in 1994, Four Weddings and a Funeral is about Charles (played by Hugh Grant in the film), a charming man who is very unlucky in love.
One day, during his friend’s wedding, he meets a beautiful girl called Carrie. Unfortunately, she does not plan to stay in England, and travels back to the United States. But they keep meeting each other, so maybe things can work out for the couple. Laugh while discovering the ins and outs of the British social scene in this romantic comedy.
5. North and South
Written by Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)
North and South, published in 1855, is about a young woman named Margaret Hale who moves with her parents from rural southern England to an industrial town called Milton in the north. There, she meets a wealthy mill owner named Mr. Thornton, and though she dislikes him, he immediately falls in love with her.
During her time in Milton, she witnesses what it’s like to work in the mills where employers and workers constantly clash. As his workers go on strike, will Mr. Thornton be able to charm Margaret? This complex and provoking story follows the working class struggle during the Industrial Revolution.
6. Oliver Twist
Written by Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
Published in 1832, Oliver Twist was Dickens’ second novel. The story tells the tale of a young orphan we can all feel for. Oliver is brought up in a workhouse where he is beaten, starved and poorly treated. With no parents to look after him, he decides to run away to London, where he joins a gang of thieves.
His new friends look out for him, but can they protect him from a life of danger and crime? An interesting look at the darker side of Britain’s capital, Oliver Twist is still popular today with film, musical and TV adaptations.
Want some more reading inspiration for your English lessons?
Discover graded Readers featuring some of the world’s best-loved authors.
Pearson has Readers adapted from classic English novels with audio files and a comprehensive teacher resources section, meaning you can use them in class with your students too.
In the fast-paced world of business, there is one undeniable fact that holds true: employees are the key to success. Their commitment and expertise propel organizations towards their objectives, which is why investing in a learning culture is essential. The advantages are numerous and include improved staff retention, increased productivity and the goal of higher employee engagement.