In the first part of our new Come Alive! storytelling and drama activities video series, teacher trainer Rachel Jeffries shows us how to quickly energise a group of children, making them more active and motivated. This gets students in the right mindset to participate in more creative tasks, or simply wakes them up when they’re feeling a bit tired! In this accompanying blog, Rachel talks about the ideas in more detail.
I´m sure most primary teachers are often asked by their students to play games, usually as soon as the lesson has begun. In my early years as a teacher this was something which I often used as the reward (or perhaps the bribe!) for completing work and behaving well, `We´ll play a game in the last ten minutes´. I was unwilling to take the risk of starting with activities that may mean that I lose control or that students would then be unwilling to complete the less exciting tasks of the lesson. However, as I got to know my primary learners better, I realised that starting lessons with a dynamic and collaborative task was often the best way to set the tone for the lesson. It created a sense of team spirit and energised the class as a whole. In contrary to my concerns, it put me directly at the centre of attention, with all their focus on me. After all, I was the one giving the instructions of the game, the person in control of it.
I would try to change the games as much as I could, to keep the challenge alive for the students. A simple variation of ‘Simon Says’ can incorporate many language points. Do the actions for present continuous and freeze for past simple, to give one example. A game of ‘Stop/Start’ (as seen in the video below) can incorporate more and more actions. As the game goes on the difficulty level increases as instructions are swapped, meaning students really have to think on their feet! I also recognised the value in giving learners the opportunity to take control of the game from time to time, giving the instructions or creating the movements – they take the responsibility very seriously! Starting with an energiser activity soon became part of my classroom routine, and if they behaved well, we would play a game at the end too!
Watch Rachel using the game ‘Stop/Start’ within the classroom:
For more creative drama activities for the classroom, download the Come Alive! book for free. It accompanies Storyfun, our popular and engaging story-based course for the revised young learner exams (Pre A1 Starters, A1 Movers & A2 Flyers) from Cambridge.