How & why you should use games in your classroom


Anyone else out there who doesn't understand how it can possibly be the end of April?! I am currently recovering from an appendectomy/extra bonus surgery for a surprise post-surgery internal bleed, and won't actually even be back at work until the first of May. MAY! Two months left for me to fill my little munchkins' brains with as much as I possibly can! #cuepanicattack

This time of year is so bittersweet. Not quite the end, but so very close. I am never ready for my students to move on to grade one (Heck, last year I even followed some of them to grade one and taught them twice! And believe me, I've thought about doing it again next year haha). I spend all year getting them to this fabulous point where they basically run the show themselves and I can spend all my time actually TEACHING, rather than explaining routines and procedures, reminding them of my expectations, etc. etc. And then I have to send them on their way. I may be a bit biased, but I really think that Kindergarten is other grade levels quite understand just how far these kids come from their very first day of school EVER. I know that by the end of June, I will be beyond exhausted and ready for the break, but I am not quite there yet, and the fact that it will be MAY in a week and a bit is really freaking me out!

Anyways. I didn't mean to go off on that tangent. This blog post today is not about the bittersweet moments of teaching - it is about using games in your primary classroom.

Children learn through play, and need to be playing even in the classroom. But how to balance play with learning a second language? This blog post explains how to use games to help your students improve academically and practice key vocabulary and skills.

There is a lot of research to support the use of games and play with young students. I am sure that you are well aware that children learn through play, and that play is central to who they are and should be encouraged as much as possible. The younger the students, the more they should be playing. We all know that! However, we also have a lot of pressure to get these kids to perform academically...and we are maybe even sometimes expected to get them to do things that they aren't really developmentally ready for. So, if your students don't get as much time to play as you know they should, don't beat yourself up - we are all trying to find that balance! One way that I try and find that balance is by teaching my students to play games that have academic content and review important skills as well.

Help your second-language students assimilate new vocabulary

Hi guys!

I was evaluating my students last week on oral communication for their report cards - specifically about whether or not they use new vocabulary and expressions in both structured and spontaneous situations. I thought that sharing some of the strategies I use every day to help them assimilate new vocabulary may be useful to my fellow second-language teachers!

(Although technically I teach at a French first-language school...but let's be real, expectations are often far different from reality ;). Plus, even first-language students should be learning and using new words and expressions!)

So, without further ado, here are five ways to help your second-language students assimilate new vocabulary!

1. Teach new vocabulary and expressions explicitly.

Don't just expect your students to pick up on what you or others are saying, and what they read in books. If you want them to use new words and expressions, it is important that you specifically tell them your expectations and take time out of your day to TEACH these words and expressions. I have an oral communication block built into my day, and try to spend 20-30 minutes per day just on teaching and practicing new words, and giving my students time to practice them (see number 4). I start this on the first day of school when I teach my students how to answer the question "comment ça va?" Every morning we all answer that question (and listen to our classmates' answers!), and we build on our answers all year long.

How do I explicitly teach these words? Lots of ways! While I don't specifically teach curriculum via themes, I do often have themes that fit what is going on in the year woven throughout our day. For example, Easter was a few weeks ago. Easter is a big deal to kids - I want them to be able to talk about their excitement and experiences with their peers. So, our poem of the week was about Easter.