Working with themes is a go to teaching strategy that is popular with everyone involved in children’s education. Kids can have a fascination for dinosaurs, planets, ponies… and this can be a good source of inspiration when teaching them new concepts. This month is “Plastic Free July” (www.plasticfreejuly.org), which challenges us to refuse single use plastic for a month. Not an easy task, but I thought I’d use the theme in different ways. Here are a few ideas:
Recycle It! Is a fun game of observation in which kids sort items into different recycling bins. The bins include plastic, paper, compost, tin/metal, clothes and glass. The first obvious target of this game is to sort items into appropriate categories, a basic semantic skill. We can also teach new vocabulary related to the theme. When teaching vocabulary, it is easy to think of nouns (bin, glass, rubbish, compost) but it is just as important to target verbs (recycle, reuse, sort, select, waste), adjectives (clean, dirty, reusable, plastic-free, toxic), adverbs (cleanly, environmentally, safely) and less common words. How about “eco-friendly” as your Fancy Word of the Week? Other semantic targets include things that go together (e.g. magazine/newspaper – tin can/can opener), find the odd one out, category generation (i.e. name objects belonging to a category). Descriptions are also fun with this game (e.g. “I have an object made of metal, it contains food, you open it with a can opener, it’s a … tin can”). This can be done either as a receptive or expressive language task. Now You're Talking is a bilingual speech pathology service and the beauty of Recycle it is that it can be played in any language, something that schools and centres with children speaking English as a Second Language will like.
This theme can also be used for narrative purposes: after playing the Recycle It! game, you can do a retell of how to play the game. I like to use graphic organisers for that, using Popplet, an app that allows you to create mind maps (www.popplet.com). Of course, pen and paper will work just as well.
Looking for language tips, activities and ideas? This blog is for parents, speech pathologists, teachers, educators and anyone with an interest in speech and language.