English through origami: teacher-developed materials for the primary classroom

Written by: Maria Ivanova Ivanova, Plovdiv
mariaiviv@yahoo.com

The idea was to prove the statement: ”The more enjoyable and fun the teaching process is, the better the results are.” It had two parts. The first one was “Teaching the English alphabet (activities and games shared during the Summer school in Kiten 2003-mainly Elitsa Radeva’s ones). The second part was “English through origami”- presenting how origami and other materials can be used in the teaching process and make it enjoyable and fun.

I Teaching the English alphabet (activities and games)

(Shared ideas during the Summer school in Kiten 2003- mainly Elitsa Radeva’s ones)

1) Activities for practicing the recognition of the letters by sight and sound

  1. Point to “A” (on the wall)
  2. We put letter flashcards on the wall, on the door, on windows ( by using Bluetac). The teacher says a letter (for example “A”) and the students have to point to it. Later a student can say a letter and the other students have to point to it.

  3. Circle /Touch the letter first
  4. There are two teams, a start line and two sets of letters in a different order on the blackboard. The teacher says a letter and the students have to circle or touch the letter. The faster scores a point for his/her team.

  5. Stand up if you hear your letter
  6. The teacher gives every child a letter-flashcard. Then he/she says a letter and the pupil who has got the card with the same letter stands up and shows it to the class.

  7. Hop/ Fly/Swim to the letter (on the floor)
  8. Flashcards are put on the floor randomly. The teacher gives commands: “Swim to the letter “B!”; “Hop to the letter “G”!”;” Fly to “K”!”. The children  can be in a circle or  they can play individually. The aim of the game is the children to go to the letter by hopping/ flying/swimming etc.

  9. The alphabet by hands/ body
    Guess! What am I doing now?“A” sit on the chair, “b”- up, “c”-on the chair, “d”-up …. or

    “a”- arm horizontal position, “b”-up, “c” –horizontal, “d” –up,….

    The code is :If the letter is small and we write it  in the line, our hand/body is like this(horizontal position/sit on the chair). If the letter is a “tall” one, our hand/ body is up and if the letter has got a tail our arm is down or we crouch.

    This is an excellent way of using the space horizontally ;-)!

2) Activities for practicing the sequence of the letters in the alphabet

  1. Say the alphabet in a chain
  2. Children say the alphabet in a chain.

  3. Buzz game
  4. This game can be played both with letters and with numbers. The students start saying the alphabet in a chain  by saying buzz instead of every second letter. At the begging the alphabet poster can be used for help.

  5. Decoding words
  6. Can you guess what is written here? These are three separate words.

    2/1/7   2/15/24  13/15/15/14

    The numbers correspond to the number of the letter in the alphabet. Students can use the alphabet poster to find out which word is written by numbers. They have to decode the words.

  7. The Speaking computer
  8. Imagine that the alphabet poster is a computer keyboard. When the teacher presses a letter- the students have to pronounce it.

    What’s this?…….lunch box, apple,..

3) Activities for practicing the relationship between letters and sounds

Chants are excellet for practiting the relationship between letters and sounds. An example borrowed from Elitza Radeva is:

Big A, small a, /a/, /a/, /a/, apple, ant, alligator.

Big B, small b, /b/, /b/, /b/, backpack, bus, book.

Big C, small c, /c/, /c/, /c/, cat, conoe, castle

Chants from English Together-Starter, Longman

A-apple, B-ball, C-cat

Apple, ball, cat (2) Apple, ball(2) Apple ,ball, cat

A favourte chant of mine, practicing numbers:

The teacher gives students numbers and then (s)he starts chanting:

Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

A: Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? Was it you number 2?

B: Who me?

A: Yes you!

B: Couldn’t be!

A: Then who?

B: Number 4!

A: Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

4) Activities for practicing writing the letters

  1. Writing the letter in the air/on your partner’s back
  2. The teacher writes the letter in the air. The students have to recognize and pronounce it. It can be played as a  pair work as well- students write letters on their backs.

  3. Letter-colour dictation

Every child has to prepare some felt pens (coloured pencils)-red, yellow, green, blue,… The teacher says: “ Write down a blue..(there are two or three seconds here, so that the children can pick up the blue pencil) “A”/ei/. The children write the letter  “a” in blue colour. The letters can be small or capital.

5) Activities for practicing recognition and production orally

  1. Flashing the letter card
  2. The teacher flashes the letter card slowly and the children have to pronounce it. Gradually (s)he increases the speed. Later a student can flash the card.

  3. Guessing game
  4. The teacher hides a letter and the students have to guess which letter is hidden. The student who guesses correctly hides the next letter.

    Which letter is this? Guess?

    Is it “A”?

    No, guess again!

    Is it “C”?

    That’s right! You’re turn!

  5. Mosquito game
  6. There are letter-mosquitos on the board. A fly swatter is given to a child  and  (s)he is asked to swat the letter “C”. While the child is looking for the letter-mosquito, the teacher and the rest of the class are making furious mosquito buzzing noises until the letter-mosquito has been swatted.

II English trough origami

  1. Visual materials
  2. Using visual materials helps children a lot in remembering the correct way of spelling, writing or pronouncing a difficult grammar item. A fun way of teaching confusing prepositions is by using pictures.

    Drawings were shown:

    A lady waiting on the bus stop.  and  A  lady waiting at the bus stop.

    A book for animals.   and  A book about animals.

    (Pictures were borrowed from Elitza Radeva)

  3. Origami –the fortune teller
  4. Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. (Ori  means fold, kami-paper). The fascination of the art is in making something beautiful from something as ordinary as everyday paper. What more can be added to this fascination is to involve origami in teaching. A good start can be the fortune teller or the instruction machine. (A handout with instructions for the instruction machine were given; a big fortune teller, practicing the “going to” construction, was demonstrated).

  5. Flying birds
  6. Two big “flying” birds were demonstrated. The aim is the children to communicate by playing and  enjoying themselves. They can practice basic questions and make their animals friends.

    “Hello. What’s your name?

    Where do you come from?

    Do you like pizza?

    And later some more  informal questions like:

    “ Have you got a girlfriend/ boyfriend?”

    A rhyme can also be practiced:

    “Two little birds

    Sitting on a hill.

    One named Jack

    And one named Jill.

    Fly away Jack.

    Fly away Jill.

    Come back Jack.

    Come back Jill.

    This is a good way of improving speaking skills by creating cooperative and friendly atmosphere and making cross-curriculum links.

  7. Jumping frogs
  8. A jumping frog competition was shown.

    Two plastic cups and two small green jumping frogs . The aim is to try to put the frog in the cup by repeating something, saying the alphabet or counting. It can be used as a relaxing activity as well.

  9. Pocket books
  10. Reading can also be combined with origami. There are so called pocket books , which the children have to fold and cut in order to make a book and read it. (Samples were given) The next step is that they can make their own books from a blank sheet of paper.(Student-made books, describing experience from green schools, were shown and written)

    Finally, we can use origami as a reward. Samples of what I give as a reward were shown

  11. Flashcards
  12. An easy way of making flashcards is by cutting pictures and laminating them. An alphabet poster can also be cut, stick on cardboard or laminate. Examples of Old McDonald’s farm’s animals and other drawn  flashcards  were shown.

  13. Rubbers and other materials
  14. All that helps in teaching English can also be used- rubbers, toys and other materials.

    Fruit and vegetable rubbers were shown and put under coffee plastic cups.

    “What fruit is it? Guess?” The children have to guess what the fruit is.

    The Bulgarian version of this is “Tuka ima, tuka nema:;-).

    Eight intelligences were also mentioned.

    As everybody was very happy at the end of the workshop” The happy song” was sang:

    If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands .(2)

    If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it.

    If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.

    Slap your knees.

    Stamp your feet.

    Snap your fingers.

    Say OK.

    Do all five.

Children learn better when they enjoy themselves.

The more enjoyable the teaching process is the better the results are.

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