Fun activities for ~5 y.o. ESL kids: Writing and Speaking
February 2, 2009 3:52 PM   Subscribe

More Kindergarden/ESL questions: Fun activities with writing and teaching to kids with limited english capabilities

You guys were great with the last question (Here), so I figured I'd try two more at once!

1. My same kid (5 y.o. Korean girl, speaks English very well) has been helped tremendously by the Florida Center for Reading Research textbooks online, and now I'm looking for a bit of help with writing. She finds it terribly boring, and I need to help her fix up her handwriting somehow regardless. If I start her up on writing a letter correctly (she has her own sort of messy script) it turns into a 10 minute battle that leaves us both exhausted for the rest of the hour, and I haven't really accomplished much of anything to show for it. How can I trick her into thinking that writing is fun?

2. I have 2 new korean students tomorrow for the first time, ages 4 and 6. Their mother says that their English is a little shaky, and I would love some advice on activities to do with ESL kids who aren't quite on firm ground when it comes to speaking English. (My first student is prettymuch as fluent as any 5 year old American, so I've gotten to focus exclusively on reading and writing)
posted by sdis to Education (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How is her Korean writing? Little 5 year old hands can get tired easily and some just lack the stamina to keep gripping a pencil. If you think that might be it, try having her do it with a paintbrush or chalk since they're easier to grip. Or, if you're trying to drill into her what the letter looks like and not necessarily work on handwriting, maybe form letters out of blocks or collage them or make them with modeling clay.
posted by Marit at 5:04 PM on February 2, 2009

My 4 year old goes to a Montessori school with many non-native speakers.

Her teacher has a plastic shoebox that she's filled with small trinkets and laminated pieces of paper - each piece of paper features a letter. The teacher has printed the letter on the piece of paper exactly the way she expects the children to write it. The letters in the box spell will spell out the names of the trinkets when they're arranged properly. Each word is three letters.

Hotwheels Van = Van
Figurine of Clifford = Big Red Dog
Small plastic fan = Fan
Buddha figurine = Fat Man
Wind-up rabbit = Hop
Plastic Easter egg = Egg
Plastic spider web = Web

The children get out the shoebox. They arrange the trinkets on the table in front of them. They spend time sounding out the words phonetically and arranging the letters from the box to spell each word. Then they copy the words down onto their own piece of paper.

This is a big hit! It helps with phonics, reading, spelling and writing. And it's so simple and fun!

You could also play "I spy" with the same trinkets and just have the children write what they see.
posted by Ostara at 5:59 PM on February 2, 2009

Ask a zillion questions... are you, do you? what color is it? how many? with every picture or new vocabulary set.

If these are one on one classes... I would assume you'll probably have to go about it with introducing a set of ~7/8 words, (through say and repeat, say and point, they tell you etc).. .then do a bunch of activities with them...

For activities they might like things like drawing or connecting the dots to form the outline of the object, matching picture to the word, drawing lines to connect the word which may be split in half or something, word finds, spell the word or fill in the missing letters, answer questions about a picture... writing exercises where they increasingly have control "they have ____" "they _____" "_____"

If they can grasp the game memory, print doubles of pictures of the vocab words and each time they turn a box over they say the word.

These kids are really young so maybe the simplest games would be appropriate and fun. Bring in props, and play games like "guess which one I'm hiding behind my back".

If the mom is OK with it, do games where they are active! Run to the window, go to the door, touch your head, jump to the chair, etc... Hide this, find that, look for...
Incorporate this type of thing as much as possible and get THEM to say the vocab words as much as possible.

That's all I've got. Much luck!
posted by nzydarkxj at 7:03 PM on February 2, 2009

I don't know that it will help her handwriting, but I got a 6 year old student in my class from hating writing to loving writing with a roll of adding machine tape. After seeing how fascinated he was during a lesson by dictating to me a long sentence to write on the adding machine tape, I bought several rolls, and gave one to each of my 1st graders. I instituted a "daily sentence" and didn't push sentence structure/handwriting issues for a while with this particular exercise. He loved writing really long sentences, the longer the better, and has become a kid who will say "I love writing!" This might be a good way to get her into enjoying herself writing, and later you can push for clearer handwriting.
posted by booksherpa at 8:17 PM on February 2, 2009

From a fellow ESL kindergarten teacher in Korea - almost anything works! Memory has been fun, reading basic books (saying things aloud and having them repeat about me, asking 'what color?'. 'what is this?'), and many a Montessori game :) Coloring sheets are great - just use google to search 'esl coloring' and any other fun terms you can think of. My school has a set of dominoes that shows a country's flag on one side, and the nation's name in Korean and English on the other side. It's usually used as more of a game or a pronunciation game.

Oh, and I almost forgot - SIMON SAYS! Do the actions yourself so they can mime you for awhile, then try to ease away from that and see if they point to their own eyes, find the color red in the room, etc. - great for comprehension. Best of luck!
posted by chrisinseoul at 3:20 AM on February 3, 2009

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