Prof Krishna Kant's Activities for Language Learning part 2
These are just some of the dozens of activities any teacher can organize in any ordinary classroom. Each time an activity is repeated with some little change, it will be received with even greater enthusiasm by the children than it got last time. So do each activity any number of times, adding something new each time. Keep a record of the variations so that you can introduce your innovations to a new colleague. Nearly each activity described here can become the starting point of a dozen variations.
All the activities described here are aimed at enhancing the child's ability to use language to deal with the world. So while our focus is talk, we are in fact working on a much wider area of the child's development. This wider area includes the ability to use questioning as a way to find new information, making intelligent guesses on the basis of limited information, relating to things at more than one level of acquaintance, and making creative interpretations. Some of the activities provide to the child the opportunity to work in two media, i.e. words and picture. Such an opportunity builds the base for the ability to connect abstract and vivid symbols. It will make an immense contribution to the child's development as a reader.
These activities, and the ones you will design along these lines on your own, will offer many connecting points with the activities described in the next two chapters on reading and writing.
These more complex skills undoubtedly widen the child's repertoire of language, but talk remains a primary means of dealing with the world throughout life. So even when children can read and write, talk-based activities must continue.
Continuing from the part 1 of the series
6 How Did You Make That?
Teach children how to make things with paper, cloth, or any other available material. Making a paper boat, a hand puppet, or cat-cradles would be fine. Make elaborate comments on what you are doing as you demonstrate while the children are following you with the appropriate material in their hands. For example, if you are demonstrating how to make a paper boat, describe each step:
'Fold the paper in half. Now turn the corners inwards. Lift the remaining strip...'
When children have learnt how to make the thing, ask them to describe the process. Next time, assign different things to different groups, and let one group explain to the other how it made its thing.
7 Acting Out
Stage1: Choose ten or fifteen different kinds of common actions that children are likely to be seeing every day.
Examples: Sweeping the floor, peeling a banana, washing dishes, cutting vegetables, walking with two full buckets. Whisper to each child which action you have chosen for him or her. Then every child comes forward and performs the action. Others must guess what the action was.
Stage 2: Make the activity more complicated by choosing action that involve four or five people.
Form groups, and ask each group to perform a collective action. With older children who can read, use slips of paper to tell them what to do.
8 Analysing a Picture
Form groups of five and give a picture to each group. The teacher must examine each picture carefully before the activity starts and must prepare questions according to the levels of response given earlier. So the teacher will have five questions for each group. Allow at least five minutes for children to examine the picture and discuss it among themselves. Number the children from 1 to 5, and ask the five questions you have.
The questions can be used for informal individual talk as well. When you have organized this activity a few times, you will find it a lot easier to make up questions, but in the beginning it is best to prepare in advance.
9 Guessing the Right Picture
This activity can be organized only if you have a number of books of children's literature, particularly several picture-story books.
Pair all children. As they sit face to face, one line looks at books and selects one picture out of all the pictures given. Now every child sitting in this line describes the picture she has selected to the child sitting in front without showing him the picture. When the description is over, the book is handed over to the child who was listening, and he is asked to find the picture that fits the description.
The two lines exchange books and activity carries on. This activity can be organized slightly differently with the help of pictures on the wall.
10 Making a Story
Collect odd things like lids, torn pieces of cloth, broken bangles, empty toothpaste tubes, little stones, leaves, nibs, etc. Make piles of five or six of these items, and distribute the piles among groups of five or six children. Each group finds a suitable place to sit down and talk about the things in the pile. The aim is to prepare a story in fifteen or twenty minutes. When all groups return to the classroom, one narrator in each group tells the story. Allow variations if other group members insist that the story has not been told correctly.
Success of this activity depends on how much experience your children have of listening to stories. Also, are they used to making up stories? Just about any common experience can be narrated as a nice, little story. Similarly, any common object can become the starting point of a narration. If you show this kind of imagination as a teacher, your children will soon acquire it.
11 Where Do You Live?
Children sit in two lines facing each other; one line has 'tellers', the other 'listeners'. Each teller has to explain to the listener the way to reach her home. Listeners can ask any number of questions to understand better.
Teller: 'Go straight and turn.'
Listener: 'How far should I go straight?'
Teller: 'Go till you find a garbage dump, then turn.'
Listener: Turn right or left?'
Teller: 'Right... No, no. let me see...'
When all tellers have had a chance, the listeners become tellers, and we start again.