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How to use Primary iDictionary CD ROM in class

Ideas on how to use multimedia content with the under 11s

Like much of the multimedia content produced by publishers nowadays, Primary iDictionary from Cambridge University Press seems to have had a lot more thought, time and money put into producing a fine piece of technology than into thinking about how teachers can actually use it in class. That doesn’t mean there is any lack of ways, but it can take some thought and time to come up with them. Luckily for you, I had to look at this CD ROM in real detail and use it as often as I could in my classes so that I could write a review of it, so I’ve done all that hard work for you! I also hope this will serve as a guide to how you can use other CD ROMs and online multimedia content. Please note that many of the ideas below will depend on class size, technology available, language level, ages, the amount of English students are used to in class etc to work well. Therefore some time spent thinking about their suitability for your students and how they might need adapting will still be needed.

How to use the Primary iDictionary Words section in class

Some ideas:

• Ask them what the next word means and then click on it to check

• Ask them to choose one of the words they know the meaning of and then click on it to check

• Do the action or draw the meaning and ask them which word it is from the list and then click on it to check

• Brainstorm words in the category you are going to look at, then open the Words section to see if there are any they didn’t come up with

• Ask them all to draw pictures representing one of the words on the list, then see whose picture is most similar to or better than the one used in the program when you click on it

• Turn off the projector or screen or press the a-b-c button so that it spells out the word. Ask students what word has been spelt (and to say, draw or mime it) and then turn the screen back on to check. Ask them for the spelling and then press the a-b-c button one more time to check that.

How to use the Primary iDictionary Songs section in class

Here are some ideas that can be used with almost all the songs:

• Brainstorm all the lyrics they can remember from the first time they heard it and then play again to check and add more

• Ask half the class to listen (and maybe watch) and write down the nouns (= things) and half the class to listen and write down the verbs (= actions) and then get them to reconstruct as much of the song as they can from those words, then listen again to check and see add to what they have got so far

• Give them a gapfill task where they try to guess the missing words from meaning and/ or rhyme and then listen to check (maybe with the screen off the first time so that they can’t see the lyrics)

• Get them to try and remember the previous line and then correct them (unfortunately, it isn’t possible to skip back while the song is playing)

• Stop the song and discuss it (e.g. What are they doing in the picture?) or ask them to predict what will come next

• Discuss the song before it starts, e.g. ask them to predict if it will be fast/ slow/ happy/ sad from the title and/ or some pictures, ask them to predict which objects will be included

• Pause the song and turn off the screen and ask “What could you see?” and/ or “What was the line of the song on the screen?”

• As you listen and watch a second time, ask students to mime the actions. Then listen without watching and ask them to mime again. Then try eliciting the words of the song by doing the actions (perhaps in a later class)

And here are some ideas for the use of each individual song:

Ten Yellow Chickens (animals)

Possible language and topic connections: Counting down from ten to one, Present Continuous (sitting on the wall and other things they are doing such as covering their eyes and falling)

Ways of using it in class: Ask them to predict what is going to happen if ten chickens are sitting on a wall. Ask students to mime the chickens with their ten fingers, including one of them falling. It is also possible to put a bit of tissue paper on the end of each finger and make it disappear as in the traditional song Two Little Dickie Birds Sitting On a Wall (which this seems to be based on), but it takes some practice! Pause the video and ask how many chickens are now sitting on the wall and what they are doing (blinking etc).

Possible lead-ins and extensions:

• Set a student a challenge to do in ten seconds and have the rest of the class count down from 10 to time them

• To add fun and practice large numbers, sing the same song with different numbers, e.g. “One million chickens sitting on the wall” or “Six thousand and twenty four chickens sitting on the wall”

• One student with their eyes closed has to guess how many students in the class are jumping, coughing etc.

• Play Kim’s game (taking away things while people aren’t looking) with multiple objects.

• Make chicken puppets and guess what the person holding it is making it do (“It is flying” etc)

Colours

Possible language and topic connections: Colours, nature vocabulary (sky, grass, sun, cloud), things outside (bike, kite, plus nature vocabulary), animals (sheep, horse, mouse, fox, fish)

Ways of using it in class: Pause the song before it is clearly revealed what the picture is and ask the students to guess, maybe asking them to read that line when it comes up before the line from the song is sung.

Possible lead-ins and extensions:

• Sing the song again, but mixing the colours up and seeing if they can remember each one.

• Sing the song again, with students taking turns singing things in the class that are that colour rather than the objects on the CD ROM.

• Do the same song with different adjectives, e.g. “What is big?”, with students answering from what is in the classroom or anything they can think of that matches.

• Brainstorm “What is red in this class?”, maybe with their eyes closed.

• Do the same with Kim’s Game, in a detailed picture like Where’s Wally (= Where’s Waldo), or by finding things in the textbook as quickly as possible.

• Pretend to colour things in the class different colours and ask students to remember their “new colours”.

• Tell them what the picture you are holding shows (e.g. a farm or a football match) and ask them to guess what things are each colour without looking.

• With a colouring worksheet get them to guess “What is dark blue?” etc (maybe singing the line) before you tell them what it should be and they colour it in

My Dress is Red (clothes)

Possible language and topic connections: Colours, clothes

Ways of using it in class: Students listen to the song without looking at the screen and colour in the clothes on the pictures you have given them, then listen and watch and check. Students listen and number the pictures being described. Students listen and try and identify one outfit as the strangest, prettiest, coolest etc and then listen and watch and check.

Possible lead-ins and extensions:

• Students try to find things in common by making statements about themselves (maybe starting with clothes or colours and then other things) and asking “What about you?”

• Sing the song again, this time with true things about your clothes.

• Sing the song again, this time with a mixture of true and false things about your clothes, with the people listening trying to spot the false ones. You can then do the same with your hair, eyes, possessions etc.

Hugs and kisses (family)

Possible language and topic connections: Family words

Ways of using it in class: Show the different pictures of the children hugging and kissing their relatives and ask the students to guess what the relationships are and what they are doing

Possible lead-ins and extensions:

• Discuss hugs and kisses in different countries (perhaps as Call My Bluff- “Male friends kiss each other on the cheeks in Russia, true or false?”)

• Sing the song again, this time putting in people who you would and wouldn’t give hugs and kisses to (the postman etc), and the people listening try to spot who you wouldn’t really do so with

Can I have…? (food and drink)

Possible language and topic connections: Food and drink, countable and uncountable, this and that, requests

Ways of using it in class: Students look at a menu and predict what foods the character will eat and/ or what order it will eat them in

Possible lead-ins and extensions:

• Discuss which of those things you can’t really buy in a restaurant

• Students ask for possible and impossible things from the class to be given them or be told “I’m sorry, I can’t carry some chairs” etc

• Students design a huge menu containing all kinds of odd foods, and then other students compete to try and ask for things that aren’t on that menu (either while looking at it, after looking at it and trying to remember what is there, or without looking at it)

Hello! Come in! (the home)

Possible language and topic connections: Rooms, furniture, imperatives for offers, here and there,

Ways of using it in class:

• Start the song after the dream has already started (i.e. not showing them the beginning of the song). Towards the end of the song, ask them if they think that house is truly where that girl lives, and if not why

• Pause before they enter the house and ask them to predict what will be inside and what they will do in there

• After the first line of each rhyming pair and before the next one appears on the screen, say the next line except for the last word and see if they can guess it from meaning and pronunciation, then listen and watch and check. Alternatively, they could fill these last words on a worksheet before starting to listen.

Possible lead-ins and extensions:

• The students work together to take a teddy bear on a tour of the classroom or school

• The students pretend they are taking each other on tours of their homes, and the person listening has to work out which details are not true

• Students design dream homes and then take students from other groups on a tour

English Classroom (school)

Possible language and topic connections: Sea vocabulary, classroom actions and collocations, classroom objects (only in the pictures, not the lyrics)

Ways of using it in class:

• Students try to put the verbs and nouns together (read + a book, tick + a picture etc) and then watch and listen and check

• Students listen without being able to see the screen and do the actions as they hear them, then listen and watch and check

• Look at pictures of one sea creature doing each of the actions in the song and guess what they are doing, then watch and listen and check.

• Brainstorm all the things you can do in class and then listen (and maybe watch) to check if they are all included

Possible lead-ins and extensions:

• Do actions in the right way and the wrong way (e.g. Sing a song very quietly and play a game by pushing and shoving) and ask “Is this the way we…?”

• Brainstorm as many possible actions (maybe just in the classroom) with one thing or in different places, or as many possible nouns as possible for one action

Boogie Woogie (sports and leisure)

Possible language and topic connections: Actions (stand up, stretch your arms), body parts (elbow, knee, arms etc)

Ways of using it in class: Watch without the sound and with the lyrics blocked off (or look at pictures) and try to say what they are doing, then watch and listen to check

Possible lead-ins and extensions:

• Sing again, with the teacher or students giving other actions for people to do

• Brainstorm other things that you can stretch, touch with your elbow etc.

Let’s Go to School (transport)

Possible language and topic connections: transport, Let’s…,

Ways of using it in class: Brainstorm different ways of going to school and then listen and watch to check whether they are the same as the ones we thought of

Possible lead-ins and extensions: Sing the song again, but using different places instead of school

Head and shoulders (the body and face)

Possible language and topic connections: Body parts, I’ve got…,

Ways of using it in class: Touch or show the body parts they mention as you listen (maybe without seeing the images the first time)

Possible lead-ins and extensions:

• Shout out “I’ve got 13 fingers” etc and students rush to show that many things in their team

• Sing the song again, but using different numbers of body parts. The students have to draw an alien with that many as they listen

• Sing the song again, but singing the number of body parts of the picture the teacher shows or draws (an octopus, monster etc)

• Sing again and guess which animal the teacher or student is describing in the verses

Scary Fellow (adjectives)

Possible language and topic connections: Adjectives (round, yellow, big, small, famous, scary), Halloween, vegetables

Ways of using it in class: Listen without looking at the images and guess who is being described, then look and listen and check

Possible lead-ins and extensions: Students prepare spoken or written descriptions of other things (maybe things connected to Halloween, other scary things or different vegetables), and other listen and guess what is being talked about

What Is This? (The world around you)

Possible language and topic connections: This, that, these and those

Ways of using it in class:

• Guess the next line up before listening by the rhyme (but note that some don’t rhyme and so should be just played without pausing at that point)

• After each question in the song, draw the things that will be in the answer and get students to guess (in a full sentence) then listen (and maybe watch) and check

Possible lead-ins and extensions:

• Continue with more drawings (perhaps very small things for That and Those to show distance and very big things for This and These to show closeness)

• With a picture with things in the foreground and background, cover objects and ask what is being covered

• Student race to label everything in the classroom or a picture like that described above, asking you what things are that they don’t know

Who Is It? (prepositions)

Possible language and topic connections: Prepositions of movement and position, animals, adjectives (good, friendly, little, big, funny), nature (tree, hill)

Ways of using it in class:

• Pause after each question for the students to guess the answer (from the rhyme)

• Ask what they are doing (holding hands, flying) in each picture when you pause

Possible lead-ins and extensions:

• Ask students to hide around the class while their classmates have their eyes closed and ask the remaining students to test each other on “Who is hiding under the desk?” etc.

• Do something similar, but with students taking photos of each other (or drawing each other) hiding in the classroom and then showing them to the class to guess who they show where

• Read the classic popup storybook Where’s Spot?

I Have a Shower (verbs)

Possible language and topic connections: Time, Present Simple for routines, verb plus noun collocations

Ways of using it in class: Students guess which action matches which time (or which time plus verb matches which noun) and then listen (and maybe watch) and check

Possible lead-ins and extensions: Students try to guess when the teacher or their classmates usually do certain things

Note: Some of the actions here aren’t very good for Present Simple as “Help my daddy” etc is unlikely to be a routine

How to use the Primary iDictionary Stories section in class

Ideas that will work with most stories

• Pause and ask students to predict what is going to be said next

• Ask students to write a similar story, e.g. with different characters

• Ask students to act out the story, in groups and then maybe in front of the class

• Ask students to continue the story (if it doesn’t have a clear ending) or write an alternative ending

• Give pictures from the story, ask students to predict the order and then listen (and maybe watch) and check

• Give students pictures for them to retell the story with

• Discuss if they liked the story or not and why, and what adjectives they could use to describe the story, their feelings listeni

Written by Alex Case for TEFL.net October 2009
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic.

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TEFL.net : ESL Lesson Plans : Classroom Ideas : Young Learners : How to use Primary iDictionary CD ROM in class