Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

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ESL Games for Preschoolers
By:Elizabeth Brown

For ESL (English as a second language) preschoolers, learning English can be daunting, Games must be simple and clearly explained orally and visually, step by step, to avoid frustration. ESL activities for preschool children should integrate talking, listening, looking and moving in a variety of of visually appealing games that are less competitive and more self-oriented or cooperative in nature.

Interactive Games
Sites such as http://www.pbs.org offer a variety of games to ESL preschoolers and the opportunity to learn at their own pace Games are displayed. The narrator is a child who speaks slowly and succinctly. Each game has a particular character. For example, one is narrated by a dancer who teaches sounds through rhyming: "Help me find the word that rhymes with 'og.' " The words log, sink and snake are displayed. If the correct word is clicked, the dancer spins and praises. If the wrong word is clicked, she will tell you, "Snake doesn't rhyme. Try again." A game called Sounds Bingo teaches the sounds of letters, which are so important for the ESL learner. Another, Princes Presto, prompts the player to listen for the sound and then click the letter that makes that sound. A printable coloring sheet is the prize.

Simon Says
Simon Says is an active game that encourages listening and teaches simple verbs such as touch, stand, sit or dance. Body parts are taught, too, when the children are asked to "touch your nose," "touch your elbow," "slap your knee" or "wave your hand." The game is simple with few instructions. Children stand in a group and listen for what Simon says to do. If the instruction is not prefaced with "Simon says," the child should not do it. Visuals can be used for additional help. More advanced learners can have a turn at being the leader. The pace can increase as the ESL learner improves.

Flash Cards
Flash card games are fun and effective. The Matching Game is a memory game. Cards can include any item such as animals, articles of clothes, verbs or numbers. The cards each have a pair and are spread out face down. Each child takes a turn flipping two cards in an attempt to find the pairs. For additional practice, include the name of the item on the card, and the player can read it each time he flips it. Go Fish is a fun way to practice word and number recognition, along with communication and listening skills. Each player is given four to five cards. One player asks another "Do you have any clowns juggling?" or for another card he needs to make a match. If so, the player being asked must give him the card. The player puts down his match. If the child asked does not have the card, he should say, "Go Fish." The first player with no cards wins the game. Charades is a game in which kids act out what's on the card. For added fun and enrichment, encourage kids to use props such as dress-up clothes. For ESL learners who need additional support, categories such as "Circus Fun" or "My Job" can provide clues.

Songs to Teach
Music cannot be undervalued in its effect on the young learner. "All About Me Songs" teach feelings and body parts and are sung to the tune of "Mulberry Bush." For example, "My Head, My Stomach, My Knees, My Toes" is the chorus and the children touch each part of their body as they sing it. A feeling song includes "When I am sad I feel like crying" and the preschooler rubs his eyes. Preschoolers can make puppets that sing along with them. Visuals such as a signs can be used as prompts with pictures of body parts or faces expressing the emotions.





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