Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Autumn activities

Over the last two years and at this particular time of year, I have written blog posts to celebrate Autumn.I  have brought them altogether here to help those who want to teach a series of lessons based on Autumn.

Simple activities that all your staff can use to practise numbers , colours,simple language with an Autumn style theme, based around leaves, counting and the colour of leaves.

Being creative with the theme of autumn from creating imaginary fantatsical fruits to creating our own German Eulen and reading a Spanish Autumn poem

Taking an Autumn walk, making 3D maps of parks and places in town

Exploring a beautiful French poem with UKS2 - les feuilles mortes.

Writing ,and a review of this half term's language learning, using Autumn leaves to be gathered in amd shared out again at the start of next half term!

Autumn markets and simple language links with Maths.

Using drama,poetry,music and performance to go on an autumn walk with a French poem

Looking for nouns, adjectives and verbs

Autumn sentence trees.Writing complex sentences (noun,verb, adjective, conjunction and intensifier)

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Superhero language skills,messages and an AfL postbox

With Year 3,some of our network using our SOW will be looking at "superheroes" and how to introduce ourselves as "superheroes".
Joanne Hornby did some fabulous work on this last year in Spanish with her beginner language leaners. 
Not long ago I put together People Pillar Portrait Poems as an opportunity to describe superheores etc
Look what I found yesterday in Dunelm Mill- whilst actually looking for new pillows!
 It gave me an idea! Why not create Superhero AfL boxes! A really simple idea but could be very effective and an idea that could run through the year. 

Superhero communication powers
  • Discuss superhero "powers " with the class
  • Talk about how some superheroes can have super powers of communication 
  • Suggest that the language learning taking place in your class is allowing your young learners to develop the superhero power of communication.Some of your class may already have these super powers! (Think about your learners working with EAL)
  • Talk about the powers of memory , recognition , listening and reading comprehension, pronunciation, writing in a target language.

  • Share with the class your super hero powers' box.This is a blank box and it needs decorating.It needs a postbox opening on it and a lid that can lift off - or you can use one like the box I found in Dunelm Mill!  The children are going to help you decorate the box.They need to take one of the superhero communication powers and make a symbol for this super power.All they need to do is to glue their symbol to the box!
Creating the AfL superhero ,message strips 
  • Create with the class superhero pictures - small drawn pictures of the face or figure of their favourite superheroes -one per child with their favourite superhero on the photo and a target language greeting written in a speech bubble next to the character.
  • They need to add the target language name phrase for themselves under the picture.You could let the  children to add a superhero surname too e.g je m'appelle Madie Smith Catwoman"

  • Collect in  the drawings. Glue each drawing to the left hand side of A4 paper.One picture below another. You will now have a left hand side list of pictures.
  • Now you can now keep these sheets to  create superhero message strips when needed.One per child when you want the children to think about which "super powers of communication that they are getting better at and which super power they feel they still need to improve.
  • Each child is given a strip of paper with their own picture and phrase on it.They are going bto write their message back to you on this strip of paper and post it in the super power box.
  • Discuss with the children what types of language super powers you are developing with the class at the moment - remembering(memory), saying  accurately (pronunciation),reading carefully (recognising),etc
  • Can the children on their individual strips of paper write a super power message to you about what a language learning skill(super power) they think they are developing well and a language learning skill (super power) from your list that they want to get better at.
  • All they have to do is date the strip of paper and post it in your super hero box when they have finished.
  • You can look at the strips of paper as a class and ask a child to share what helps them have a  "good" super power in a skill or you can look at the strips away from the class and see what your next steps as the teacher should be.
  • The super power message strips can be glued in individual record books at a later date too as an informal skills progress record  

Monday, 21 September 2015

Autumn sentence trees

It's just a pile of Autumn leaves - or is it?
In this pile are many spoken and wrtten Autumn messages.Just how many can your children create?

Let's make an Autumn sentence tree

You may find my previous two blog posts help too!
Autumn word sorts and game

Autumn descriptive sentences with the verb "to be"

In this activity the learners will create spoken and written interesting sentences about Autumn using nouns,adjectives, common verbs, a conjunction and possibly an intensifier.

Your learners will need to have access to bilingual dictionaries and will need to be moving on or advanced primary language learners.They will be  at a stage where as a class you are exploring adjectives and agreement and  parts of verbs to be and to have.You could take this further and explore common regular verbs in the present tense associated with Autumn too.

Each type of leaf represents in this activity part of a sentence: 

Nouns associated with Autumn or Harvest time

The verbs "to be" and "to have" and /or verbs about harvest time

Adjectives to describe Autumn

Intensifiers and conjunctions to make our sentences more interesting

  • Discuss with the children what each leaf shape represents.
  • Write on the whiteboard clearly a sentence in the target language about Autumn which uses the following:

noun,verb,adjective,conjunction, noun, verb intensifier ,adjective
(e.g. the apples are red and the apples are very sweet)
(e.g.the birds fly fast,but the hedgehogs are very tired)

  • Read the sentence aloud for the chldren .Can the children identify what type of sentence you have written- does it compare two Autumn objects or does it give more than one descriptive detail about a Autumn object?
  • Can the children help you to read aloud the sentence and then identify which leaf shape represents each of the part of the sentence.Place each leaf shape above the correct part of each part of the sentence.
  • Give the children time to re-read the sentence and to try to remmeber it.Cover spme of the parts of the sentence with the leaf shapes.
  • Can the children say the sentence to a partner and remmebr what is behind the leaf shapes?
  • Can the children write out the sentence?
  • Share with the children a leaf shape sentence like below:

  • Can the children create their own interesing Autumn sentences which follow the leaf shape sentence structure ?
  • Ask partners to check each others sentences
  • Now ask the children to draw and write out their sentences ,placing the words in the correct leaf shapes they draw. 
  • Now you have your Autumn sentence tree drawings ready to go up on an Autumn sentence tree display.


Autumn descriptive sentences with the verb" to be ".

It's just a pile of Autumn leaves- or is it? In this pile are many messages both spoken and written.Let's explore!

Take a variety of Autumn leaves and create explorations of sentence structure and creative comparisons! Here is the second blog post....Take a look here at the first blog post Autumn word sort and game
 My Autumn leaves pile allows us to explore sentences and to say and write sentences of our own and create a decriptive comparison of Autumn.

Each leaf shape represent a structure within a sentence.
In this activity the leaf shapes represent the following:

An Autumn noun: a leaf,fruit (s), vegetable(s), animal connected with Autumn (e.g squirrel,hedgehog,bird)

Part of the present tense of  the verb "to be "  in the target language

An adjective to describe our Autumn noun

You may at this point want to play the gathering game from the previous blog post Autumn word sort just  to gather nouns and adjectives and as a class to identify parts of the verb "to be" and the verb "to have".

Autumn twig sentences 
Can the children on mini whiteboards write their own Autumn sentences: a sentence using the verb "to be"  (noun,verb,adjective)
The sentence can be checked orally with a partner or the class and then the children can transfer their spoken sentences to their own visual display sentences.These are twig sentences to go on our class display of the verb "to be " Autumn tree.Take a look here:

Autumn word sorts and game

It's just a pile of Autumn leaves- or is it? In this pile are many messages both spoken and written.Let's explore!

Take a variety of Autumn leaves and create explorations of sentence structure and creative comparisons! Here is the first blog post... the rest are to follow!

My Autumn leaves pile

Each leaf shape represents a structure within a sentence that our primary language learners are exploring as they develop their ability to speak and write sentences in the target language.

Take a look at what I mean:

My "noun" leaf

My verb leaf:

My adjective leaf:

and for the learners that are now moving on in their ability to form target language sentences here are:

my conjunction and intensifier leaves 
 Now let's go on our first  Autumn Exploration!

Step One 

  • Can the children help you collect words: nouns or adjectives or verbs linked to Autumn and colours or animals associated with Autumn, going for an Autumn walk or harvesting fruit and vegetables?
  • Can the children make the decision as to whether the word they have thought of, remembered or accessed in the bilingual dictionary is a noun, adjective or verb?
  • Ask the children to write out clearly on pieces of paper or card their favourite Autumn words that they have remembred or investigated.
  • Attach the leaf symbols too the top of the class board.Now ask the children to help you place the nouns under the noun leaf on the white board, the adjectves under the adjective leaf and the verbs under the  verb leaf.

Step Two 

  • Collect together the cards or write out the words onto cardsthat the class has found -you could ask the children to do this for you.
  • Place the written word cards in a pile on the floor or the table. 
  • Play a sorting game .
  • Can the children help you sort the nouns, adjectives and verbs in to three piles?
  • Now you are ready as a class to play the Autumn Word Game (see below)

A Possible Step Three

With more advanced learners you coud take the activity one step further and add conjunctions and adverbs too!

The Autumn Word table game 
  • Children to play the game as a table game.
  • Object of the game to win as many Autumn words as possible.
  • Ask tables of  four to six children to write out as many of the words as the class has collected on to cards.Give the children a time limit for this.
  • Now give each table a set of Autumn leaves.Each group needs two of each of the noun, adjective , verb autumn leaf cards. 
  • Ask the children to put all the written Autumn word cards face up on the table in a jumbled up order - so not categorised as nouns etc.
  • Autumn leaves cards face down in a pile on the table.
  • Set a time limit for the game!
  • Each player takes it in turns to select an autumn leaf card and then to select a written word card that matches the leaf e.g a noun, adjective or verb.As the game progresses a player may not be able to find a noun or an adjective or a verb written card and will have to pass on his or her go.
  • With more advanced learners challenge the children to see if they can create an Autumn sentence with one of the nouns,verbs and adjectives that they have collected.... 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Magic Roundabout,practising French language and culture

Recently I was inspired by the title of a whole school focus "The Secret World of Toys" posted on a Facebook page I subscribe to.
What a brilliant idea!
I am busy creating Cross Curricular and Creative Units for our VLE .More details here should you be interested Primary Languages Network Limited

A few years ago Emilie and I took a look at the "Magic Roundabout" with a class here in Warrington, as part of her work on a 1960s project.A gift really as it is a French cartoon and story!

We met the characters in French and built simple personalities for the characters.Then just as luck would have it on a holiday in France I came across meringue Dougal cakes for sale in the market! Here was Polux authentic French cake and an authentic French character from a children's TV programme!!

Then I came across this wonderful song!

So now I have a sequence of lessons- from joining in with a song,to simple conversations to more challenging spoken and written activities and a bit of cake making and culture in there too!

  • Practising the song for the magic roundabout for a class assembly- maybe adding actions and puppets! 
  • Creating a display in English and French about the magic roundabout
  • Designing Magic Roundabout paper puppets using my paper puppet design and holding simple conversations.Take a look at my blog post Paper puppets with a purpose ...but obviously creating Magic Roundabout characters!
  • Creating character descriptions or profiles of each of the characters in French
  • Creating a new character for the Magic Roundabout - name, age , physical description and personality, likes and dislikes
  • And don't forget creating French meringues in the shape of the characters! Here is the photo I took of Polux!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Let's build on it! Autumn One

So the year has started and we are off again! 
Last year I wrote "Beginners" blog posts Beginning with Languages to help colleagues new to primary languages engage and support staff across the school and plan some effective primary language learning opportunties.As part of the Language Learning for Everyone DFE funded project with  WTSA/JLN we will be continuing this year to support local North West schools to develop their primary                                                                               language learning.

The series of blogposts this year will be called "Let's build on it!" In each blogpost I will endeavour to share what I have seen my local colleagues doing to recall, revisit and further develop prior learning effectively , to explore current and topical events and build in language learning opportunities,to plan for next steps in the academic year and to track and monitor progress.

So here we go!

At this time of the school year:

We like to set out our learning for the year with all our classes:

We discuss the rights of the language learner.You can buy the A3 poster here from Little Linguists Rights of the Language Learner

We create our learning journals and record keepers.

Here is one way of creating learning journals with the children to collect and collate their listening,speaking,reading,writing and cultural successes!
And here is the blog post A journey worth the taking

And we unpack our virtual suitcases from the previous year.Here is Emilie's blog post from september 2014 about this.

Developing prior language learning effectively:  
We have started this new academic year with "Start Up " activities.Here are some of the activities my associate teachers are incorporating in their lessons during the first few weeks of term.

  • A simple "What can you remember" round the working table competition to share with the class
  • Vuelta al cole (back to school) posters to remind us about how we learn languages and to practise language we know already.Make great table prompt mats too!
  • Physical number revision.Here is the blog post Revisiting numbers and physcial listening and responding
  • Give me five game, a wonderful idea from a local colleague found on her "Samamusant" blog Gimme5  
  • Extending listening with the more advanced learners using our podcasts from the JLN VLE SOW materials and resources
  • Practising and extending greetings,farewells and praise words to the well known refrain from Frozen and adding actions to help us to remember throughout the year.
  • Using authentic rhymes and songs  to revisit familar language .
  • Try lolliopop sticks as a way of letting the children select a stick and then remember and or use language from the stick in the target language.Points for good pronunciation and accuracy etc!
  • Singing songs that introduce language from all over the world to set the scene
  • Revisiting , discussing language learning strategies and moving on using Stepping Stones activities
  • Recall games such as Touch Base AfL
  • For motivation something one of our colleagues Joanne started using last year and we all think would be really useful this year is this certificate.She nominates a star of the week and the certificate hangs in the classroom for the rest of the week before being taken home! 

Exploring current and topical events:
Every half term there is an event or a key national focus that we can use to our advantage in language learning.I think it is both an opportunity to explore culture and an opportunity to continue practising rudimentary skills but linking them to a topical context which adds a new sparkle to the learning.So this half term we will:

Next Steps.Getting ready for next half term:

  • Share with your colleagues in a staff meeting these two simple ideas that they could all help to deliver or create class performances and target language displays next half term for Bonfire Night , based on practising sounds of the language and basic language KS1 Rockets and Fireworks poem Fireworks poem
  • Some of your colleagues may also like to consider how they can link the target language learning with Remembrance on 11 Novemeber.Here are a few ideas from last year that we used les coquelicots et les bleuets
  • It's soon time to start planning for Christmas performances.Time now to consider simple ways that the children across the whole school could particpate in a target language Christmas carol in the school assembly or service.

Tracking and monitoring progress:

  • Informal monitoring of progress in content acquisition and listening and responding skills with this simple activcity could take place throughoputb the year :Recall game Touch Base AfL
  • An Autumn themed AfL writing and progress in writing activity that you can then use next half term as a revisiting and reading activity Gathering Autumn leaves

Friday, 11 September 2015

Verb to have and verb to be.World Rugby Chants

Last year we talked alot about paradigms of verbs - well here is a topical and current way to introduce or practise the verbs "to have" and "to be in the target language.
Julie Prince visited us here in Warrington and we created a song version of the paradigm of the verb "to be"!  

Show the children the Haka performance from the All blacks team 
The children need bilingual dictionaries so that they can look up key vocabulary (kit, equipment and personality characteristics)

Divide the class into groups with sufficent children spo that they can perform the paradigm of the verbs.
Ask the children to think of items of kit and equipment that a rugby player will need ( boots, socks, shirt, shorts, gum shield, rugby ball etc)
Now the children can create their paradigm chant of the verb to have - with rugby kit 

Repeat the activity with the verb to be and the characteristics of a rugby player (strong, fast, brave, quick,tactical, powerful, etc)

It's a conversion! Rugby World Cup Grammar Challenge

Just a simple game but one I think that some classes will really enjoy! 
How many conversions can a team of children successfully achieve during a focus on grammar in the target language.
Each successful conversion is worth 2 points!

Pick your realistic and stage appropriate grammar focus - nouns, adjectives or present tense verbs!

Now the game is on!

The Rules of Rugby Conversion Grammar

  • Each team should have four players (differentiated ability)
  • Each player must particpate fully and be involved in the structural change to the noun, verb or adjective.
  • Each player needs a small whiteboard and pen or pieces of paper.
  • The teacher must set each team a similar challenge with a different item of vocabulary (see below)."The conversion challenge"
  • Ask each team to convert the piece of vocabulary in front of them so that it can be used in a different way ( see below).
  • Each team player must use their whiteboard or a piece of paper to write or demonstrate pictorially part of the change  to the piece of vocabulary"the conversion "so that it completes your conversion challenge
Possible Conversion Challenges 

With nouns (select an appropriate challenge for the level of your learners)
  • Change a noun  and its article from definite to indefinite article and noun
  • Change a singular noun to a plural noun
  • Find out in the bilingual dicytionary if a noun is masculine or feminine and write it out with a definite artilce and an indefinite article

With adjectives (select an appropriate challenge for the level of your learners)
  • Place a correctly written adjective in the correct place in a sentence with a noun
  • Write accurately an adjective with a noun that is a feminine noun- expect agreement
  • Show the different spellings of one adjective if it is used with a masculine singular , masculine plural , feminine singular, feminine plural noun. 

With verbs (select an appropriate challenge for the level of your learners)
  • Spot a verb in a written sentence
  • spot an unfamiloar verb in a written sentence and then find its meaning in a bilingual dictionary and write out the infinitive 
  • Take an infinitive and write out the first person singular (etcetra) 
  • Change an answer using a verb to a second person singular question
  • Write a correct sentence using a modal verb and the infinitive of another verb

Spooky goings on at Evermoor! Familiar target language use in a new context!

What a gift for local teachers near to the town where I work and potentially a gift for lots of the UKS2 language teachers out there! 
Take a look at the clip here embedded in the Newsround website about  Evermoor Disney Series Warrington
Disney has come to Warrington!
We can use this link in lots of ways in our work in languages this term .......

The launch of this series could allow us to set up learning opportunoties where our young language learners to explore their ability  to use familiar language in a new context. 

Getting to know you: actor profiles of these young actors above, especially as one of the lead actors comes from Worsley in Manchester!

A tour of Arley Hall - as this is in Warrington and is being used as the setting for the Evermore series!

  • Lets' set up a fact guide about the history of the hall .
  • A family tree about the family that has lived here.
  • A floor plan guide of the hall .
  • A spooky haunted house guide to fit in with our Year 6 Autumn 2 focus
  • A voice over using Tiny Tap APP to hover over different windows and explain which room is insoide and what you will find in the room.
Describing an imaginary spooky village: In the Newsround article we find out that Arley Hall sits in an imaginary "spooky" English village ..... so now we can take simple language about describing a town and add a spooky twist .
This will fit so well with our Y4 and Y5 autumn 2 focuses and fits in nicely too with Halloween and all things spooky!
For me it's an opportunity to act out spooky roleplays between shop keepers and residents of the village.
For others it will be an opportunity to design the map of a spooky town or to hunt the magical owl from the series with treasure map instructions and clues around the town.

A spooky owl ! This owl can change in to a human and can speak! We could create other spooky animals witgh mystical powers too!  

Great to use a current topical TV programme to allow our young language learners to explore their ability  to use familiar language in a new context. 

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Touch Down Languages

International sporting events provide us all with great opportunities to explore the wider World of languages and culture.
Here is a simple idea that I think UKS2 will enjoy qith the sounds and scripts of languages spoken by some of the players from the different teams!

Give out to the children cards.One card per child with the name of a country participating in the Rugby World Cup 2015.

There are 20 particpating countries and all the team information is here on the offical website:

Rugby World Cup Teams 2015

The "Touch Down "Game allows you to investigate with the children the culture and the language of the countries particpating.

  • All the children play at one time and it is just a case of the children holding their cards in the air, listening or observing and if they think that the item or the sound file is from the country and/or its culture just "touching down" with their card andlowering the card and placing it on the table.
  • Ask all the children to lower their cards and then ask those who "touched down" to offer the name of the country on the card they touched down with .Which chidlren guessed the country correctly? 
  • Now you are ready for the next "touch down"
Here are some useful sound files for the game:

Afrikaans phrases and sound files

Here is the sound recording of the tale of Peter Rabbit in  Scottish Peter O Kinnen

What about this Italian You Tube clip of a childrens song?

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Let the Maori Masks Speak!

The Rugby World Cup starts on 18 September and as Warrington is just down the road from Manchester, one of the cities hosting matches for the competition, it is a brilliant opportunity to celebrate the sport and languages. 
For European Day of Languages (the week after the start of the Rugby World Cup) this year our theme is "Faces tell a story" and that's why I have specifically singled out "Maori Masks"as a starting point.

Take a look at the mask - just what is the mask telling us?

I selected this mask because of the markings and the shape. I wanted a mask that was long and almost oval like a rugby ball and I wanted a mask that had markings which could be seen as pencil or pen marks or brush strokes.

We can explore commands linked to physical and sporting actions and create Maori masks that speak for us.

Before you start:Set the scene
Discuss with the children the game of rugby and the physical actions that take place on the pitch (throwing a ball, catching a ball, sliding across the ground, tackling,lifting up players, jumping over ,scoring a try).
Note down the verbs as you discuss or share these .Can the children identify these words as parts of verbs? Can the children help you to make commands of these words in English?

Step One 
In the target language explore using physical actions and the key commands,the sound of the words, the action associated to commands and the shape you may make to complete the action,using commands such as:


Step Two
  1. Working with a partner,ask the children to create one flowing physical sequence of movements, using ansd saying the target language commands you have practised.
  2. The children could add the use of percussion instruments to represent the physical movements too. (I can think of colleagues I work with , who would develop this activity further and create dance sequences using the target language, the movements and percussion instruments).
  3. There is an opportunity here for volunteers to share their sequences with the class.  

Step Three
  1. Share with the children the Maori Mask picture.
  2. Explain that the masks tell a story and pass on a message.
  3. Share with the children some simple pencil or felt tip markings on a paper oval face shape of your own.These markings must represnet two or three of the commands you have practised with the children .Can the children guess which command each marking represents? 
  4. For example you may have a swirly marking with an arrow upwards to represent "lift"  or an exclamation mark to represenet "score " etc.

Step Four
  1. Give out pencils or felt tips and A4 card.
  2. Ask the children to draw a large oval shape on the card.
  3. Can the children design their own Maori masks with markings in pencil of felt tip that convey the sound of the words, the action associated to commands and the shape you may make to complete the action that you have been exploring.

Before the children add the actual written word, can another child in the class look at the mask and from the pencil markings identify which command each marking represents?

Now ask the children to add the letters of each command in a different coloured pen along the marking they have selected for the actual command.

One more possible step :A Group Command Haka Performance

  • Create simple masks of the card oval Maori mask drawings.
  • Can the children in groups of six create a sequence of movements using spoken target language words,where each child individually says and acts out their commands as they have explored and drawn them?
  • The children can decide whether one group member is in charge of percussion instruments too!
  • Children can perform these "command hakas" for the class or for a class assembly. 


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Chocolate Bar Chats

Thanks to Sylvie Bartlett Rawlings I have been thinking about chocolate a lot today .Sylvie is hoping to create a language learning unit on chocolate in KS2 Primary Languages.....
This got me thinking about why not make the chocolate bar work for the language learner? !!

Here are my ideas for "chocolate bar chats"!

Create simple card chocolate bar shapes.
Here my shape is 3 x 3
Each  chocolate bar  is in its own wrappper.A piece of wrapping paper with a title on it or a re-usable envelope with a title on it - this is the theme  of the chocolate bar chat e.g. clothes/ food/ party/ etc
Each square in the block contains a word.
Each word needs to be able to be used in the  questions and answers determined by the title on the wrapping of the chocolate bar.
This is an opportunity for teacher AfL too - just how do different children use the key word prompts in their sentence construction etc?

Working with a partner can the children hold a "chocolate bar chat" based upon the wrapper theme and using up all the chunks of chocolate  in the chocolate bar questions and answers  to hold their own chocolate bar chat.
I would suggest that you have a maximum of four types of chocolate bars so that children in the class can be working on the same "chocolate bar" and the same words in the squares, but each convesation will be unique to  each pair of children

Show the four different wrappers to the class.
Ask the children to perform their chocolate bar chats for the class!
Can the class spot  which wrapper the chocolate bar has come from (i.e the theme)?
Can the class spot the the similarites and differences between the conversations?

Delighted that Sylvie loves the blog post and here are Sylvie's chocolate bars that she made following the instructions of the blog post.What a star!