I’ve been teaching preschoolers aged 4-5 years for a couple of years now and this experience has helped me to come up with some ideas that work really well with my pupils. And my lessons are about 90 minutes long, so believe me I had to be really creative to develop the activities to keep such young kids’ interest for such a long time. I’ve always wanted to teach this age group (not exclusively, I have other students too, most of them YL though), but I know that some people feel a bit uneasy in the beginning and don’t know what to do with such young kids, so I decided to share some of my ideas and I hope some of you find them helpful. And please let me know how you’re getting on.
Obviously learning has to be based on real things they can see and touch and has to be lots of fun. You can create flashcards on any number of topics, by just GOOGLEing the words and finding the pictures (I know it takes time, but it’s worth it) and you can also create simple games using flashcards. Another great idea is to play Bingo and you can download ready made Bingo cards on many topics from http://www.dltk-cards.com
Action songs are really great too and my favourite ones are:
- If you’re Happy and you know it
- Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
- Reach for the Sky
- The Finger band (musical instruments)
- Ten Little Fingers
- Where Is Thumbkin?
- Hockey Pockey
- Mulberry Bush (things we do in the morning + many other versions)
My pupils’ favourite games (that I created myself)
1. “Toys and numbers” (vocabulary: numbers + colours + animals or fruit and vegetables or whatever vocabulary item you’re teaching and can find toys for). Print numbers 1 to 10 on A5 or A4 sheets of paper, making each number a different colour. Ask children to arrange the numbers on the floor in the right order. Then ask (one child at a time or all of them at the same time, depending on ability) What colour is number 5? What colour is number 7? etc. Then ask one pupil at a time to come up to you and describe an animal (or just name an animal, again, depending on their level) and once the child guesses the animal, ask him or her to find it in the box with toys and put it on one of the numbers ex. Put the elephant on number 3. Put the horse on number 7, etc. Once each animal has been assigned a number, ask questions: What animal is on number 6? etc. You can also ask: What animal is between a cow and a pig, etc? My pupils love this game and are really good at it. You can obviously make any variations you want.
2. “2 chairs game” (vocabulary: actions + prepositions + animals). Put two chairs in front of the children (the chairs should preferably be of 2 different colours). Ask one child at a time to come up to you and first get him or her guess the animal and bring it to you as in the first game. Then tell the child where to put the animal: Put the penguin under the blue chair, etc. Then give him or her 5-10 commands using different actions and prepositions, be creative! Ex. Jump around the yellow chair! Stand between the chairs! Take the penguin and put it behind the blue chair! (you have to preteach this vocabulary, but this is a great way to practice it and kids love helping each other perform the actions).
3. “Body parts game” Ask two kids to come up to you and say “the nose for you Martina” and “the elbow for you Adelia” and the children are supposed to touch each other with the named body parts, there’re so many possible combinations and they have so much fun
4. “Guess your classmate” Ask a child to come up to you and describe one of the other children’s clothes and he or she has to guess who you’re talking about.
When I work with kindergarten kids who I need to start teaching reading, I use the Phonics method, which works really well and you can find lots of great worksheets on http://www.bogglesworldesl.com
website (there’re many other great worksheets on it too, not just phonics)
My final advice, if anyone is still reading, is to be enthusiastic and creative and try to have good relationship with kids, if they like you, they’ll be happy to do the activities you offer them.