Three Classroom Activities You Can Do Using Only Index Cards and Crayons

As the title of this post states, here are three classroom activities you can do using only index cards and crayons.

First up is Jeopardy! What I love about this is that it is endlessly adaptable to all different subjects and grade levels. You can swap out categories or add to them to re-use the game while keeping it fresh. (Also, my students LOVE it!)

classroom jeapordy 1

For younger kids, I’ve focused on simple topics like colors, animals, and shapes. For older kids, I’ve used topics like actions, professions, past tense, telling time, and U.S. trivia. (I’m always interested to see if students know who America’s first president was or when our Independence day is.)

classroom jeapordy 2

The only difficulty with this game is that the cards are small, so I end up circling the classroom for all the students to see the clues. This problem would be eliminated if I had an overhead projector (but I don’t).

To play Jeopardy in the classroom, I divide students into groups and then tape the cards to the chalkboard. The groups go back and forth, choosing clues until they are all gone. Then, we tally the points to see who won.

Jeopardy classroom game
Rhyme, Missing Letter, Food and Places make good topics, too!

Next up is this easy-to-make ABC challenge. I cut index cards in half and wrote out sets of the alphabet in different colors. Students formed groups and had to put the letters in order.

classroom activity alphabet
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ABC classroom activity

For a further challenge, my teaching counterpart asked the students to see how many words they could make. Our students were clever enough to build on the words, crossword-puzzle style. (I wish I’d gotten a picture, but my phone died.)

Finally, here is an idea for a numbers challenge. Use index cards to write out the numbers 1-10. Divide students into different groups. Give one number to each student. Then, time each group to see who can line up in numerical order the fastest. (I let them do a practice run and then I time them.) 🙂

Here are some other activities, materials, and lesson plans I have used in my classroom:

 

Classroom Activity: Circle of Friendship Hands

This is an easy classroom activity I found on Pinterest (where else?). Students trace, color, and cut out their hands, and then write their name and an adjective that describes what makes them a good friend.

friendship circle of hands

Then, you gather all the hands and tape a “friendship circle” to a wall or door in the classroom.

Friendship circle of hands classroom activity

Here are some other activities, materials, and lesson plans I have used in my classroom:

 

Gobble Gobble (Thanksgiving Classroom Activity)

Last year, I bought a bunch of Popsicle sticks, thinking I would use them in my classroom. Then I had zero ideas for what to do. Recently, I was googling Thanksgiving classroom activities, and I came across this Pictionary-type game. Students choose a stick and have to draw the word on it while their teammates guess what it is. Yes! Finally, a way to use all those Popsicle sticks!

thanksgiving game classroom

I’ll also be playing Thanksgiving Bingo with my students and asking them to complete a “thankfulness” turkey worksheet.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are some other activities, materials, and lesson plans I have used in my classroom:

The Easiest Secondary Project Ever

Today Kosovo goes back to school! Since this is the newest cohort’s first day teaching in Kosovo, I thought I would write about a very easy secondary project I have undertaken at my school. (My aunt called me out — she said she knows I am struggling for blog ideas when I post about teaching. Haha. That’s partly true.)

Anyway … another English teacher at my school approached me and asked if I would compile a binder of different games and activities that we could all use. (There are three English teachers at my school + me.) It was such a brilliant and simple idea, I’m embarrassed I didn’t think of it myself.

activities book

I bought a binder and some plastic sheets for under 5 Euro total. I bought them at the bookstore in Peja, but they’re probably widely available.

workbook
It is getting thick …

Whenever I bring in a worksheet or a game for my class, I make sure to bring an extra copy to throw in the book. We keep it on a shelf in the teacher’s lounge, so that everyone has access to it.

informational sheet
Informational sheet (found on Pinterest)
handmade worksheet
Handmade worksheet
wordfind
Wordfinds for different sets of vocabulary
coloring page
Coloring pages for younger students
fake money
Teaching materials (yay for fake, Dollar Store money)
madlibs
Copied from workbooks my mom sends me from the U.S.
party worksheet
Worksheet I “created” by combining two similar workbook activities

What I like about this book is that other teachers can contribute to it, and it is sustainable. My school can continue to add to and use it after I am gone.

Also, I was at one of my schools last week and snapped some pictures, so you can see the inside. 🙂

teachers lounge kosovo
Teachers’ Lounge
hallway 1 kosovo school
Hallway 1
hallway 2 kosovo school
Hallway 2

Happy First Day of School, everyone! 🙂

Lesson Plan: Teaching Adjectives

I recently created this lesson plan to teach adjectives to my English Club (about 15 students, ranging from grades 6-9). It required very little in the way of materials, and my students enjoyed it, so I thought I would share it.

(You can download this lesson plan here: Lesson Plan Teaching Adjectives)

The Lesson

  1. Begin with a reminder/explanation of what adjectives are. Write an example on the board.
  2. Adjective Race: Give students a minute or two, and have them write all the adjectives they can think of on a piece of paper. Ask students to read from their lists, and write their words on the board.
  3. Expanding Sentences: Write simple sentences on the board. Have students copy the sentences into their notebooks, and “expand” them by adding adjectives.
    Example: The lamp is on the table. –> The metal lamp is on the small table.
    Have students read their sentences aloud.
  4. Explain Adjective Order: When using more than one adjective, list adjectives in the following order:
    1. Opinion
    2. Size
    3. Age
    4. Shape
    5. Color
    6. Origin
    7. Material
    8. (Noun)
  5. Activity: Create a list of adjectives and write each word on a set of index cards. (I made two sets of cards in anticipation of dividing my students into two groups. Make as many sets of cards as you think you’ll need.) Divide students into groups. Each group will receive an identical packet of cards and will race to put them in the correct adjective order. (You can do this several times, with several different sets of adjectives. Here is one of the sets I used):
    1. Beautiful
    2. Big
    3. Square
    4. Old
    5. Blue
    6. Turkish
    7. Metal
    8. Lamp (noun)
  6. Final Activity: Have students draw a card from a stack of cards with an adjective written on each one. Instruct them to find something in the classroom or school that the adjective could be used to describe.

The only materials I used for this entire lesson plan were index cards, a pen, a blackboard, and chalk.

Here are some other activities, materials, and lesson plans I have used in my classroom:

Teaching Activity: Telling Time

The other week, my counterpart asked me to think of ideas for ways to teach telling time. I did a Google search and found this fun activity using paper watches.

classroom activity telling time

Materials Needed:

Markers and paper
A copier (if you don’t have access to a copier, you could have students draw their own watches)
Tape

  1. Draw a watch (without a time) on a piece of paper and copy it.
  2. Give a watch to each student.
  3. Have students cut out their watch and draw a minute and hour hand for whatever time they choose.
  4. Tape the watch to the students’ wrists.
  5. Have the students take their notebook and walk around the room, asking their classmates, “What time is it?” In their notebook, they should record each person’s name and what time he/she says it is.
  6. (Optional) Ask for student volunteers to read their list of names and times aloud.
classroom game activity paper watches telling time
My counterpart took this photo.

Our students had a blast with this activity! It was easy to prep and a lot of fun. 🙂

You can see my other classroom ideas here:

Teaching: 15 Objects

The following is a simple exercise I created for my classes. I have named it “15 Objects” because it uses … 15 objects.

My teaching counterpart really liked this exercise. (I’m always proud when I come up with an idea she especially likes.) What I like about it is that it incorporates kinesthetic learning into the classroom, something I struggle to do. As a primarily visual learner myself, I tend to favor visual exercises.

I also like this exercise because it was easy to create, and free! I just used 15 things I found around the house and yard.

15-objects-classroom-game-kinesthetic-learning

You could use anything for this exercise. I used:

  • A piece of yarn
  • A tissue
  • A bottle cap
  • A post-it note
  • A candy wrapper
  • A Popsicle stick
  • A paper clip
  • A leaf
  • A stick
  • A rock
  • A plastic toothpick
  • A cotton ball
  • A craft googly eye
  • A button
  • A coin

I asked students to come up to the room 5 at a time and take one object from the bag I was holding. Then I asked the student to describe the object. Students answered questions like, What color is it? What shape is it? Is it big or small? Hard or soft? Thick or thin?

The kids had fun. 🙂

TEFL/ESL Activities Using Little or No Resources, V3

I typed the following into a PDF that you can download here: tefl-esl-activities-using-little-to-no-resources-v3

First/Last
Have students write instructions on how to do something, using “first, then, later, next, last …” etc. Examples: How to tie your shoe, how to bake a cake

Introductions
Pass around a roll of toilet paper. Tell students to take as many squares as they want, without telling them why. Once all students have at least one piece, go around the room and have each student tell something about themselves (one fact per each square).

Just a Minute
Write a list of topics, spread across the blackboard. Have students take turns throwing a paper ball at the board. Have them talk for 30 seconds – 1 minute on whatever topic they choose.

Simon Says
Classic. Either the teacher or a student leads, saying “Simon says …” followed by a command (example: touch your head). Students are “out” if they perform a task that wasn’t precluded by “Simon says.”

Take Off/Touchdown
Either the teacher or a student can lead this. Begin with students seated. Give a statement and have students stand if that statement applies to them. Example: “Stand up if you have a sister.” Have students sit back down between each statement.

Number Jump
Write the words and numbers for 1-10 separately on pieces of 8×10 paper. Also include a piece of paper with “start” written on it. Line the papers upon the floor. Have a “jumping contest” to see which student can jump to the highest number. Have students repeat the number each classmate jumps to.

number-jump-tefl-esl-gross-motor-classroom-activity-kids
Number Jump

Rainstorm
(Note: This doesn’t use language, but is a good way to “warm up” the classroom, so I am including it here.)
Have students stand up.
Silently, have them follow along to create a “rainstorm,” using the following actions.
(To begin: Getting louder)
-Rub hands together
-Snap fingers
-Clap hands
-Slap thighs
-Stomp feet
(Now, getting softer)
-Slap thighs
-Clap hands
-Snap fingers
-Rub hands together

You can see TEFL/ESL Activities Using Little to No Resources version 1 and version 2 by clicking on the links.

Lesson Plan: Teaching Emotions

I’ve posted a number of ESL/TEFL activities using little or no resources (you can find those here and here). Recently, I did the following lesson with my English club (which I host twice per week at a local NGO). I liked it so much I thought I would post my whole lesson plan.

I was inspired by something similar on Pinterest, and asked my awesome friend Katie to include some paint chips in a care package she was sending (she did). This lesson plan doesn’t require much else in the way of materials. Here is what I used:

  • Paint chips in yellow, blue, purple, green, red, and gray
  • iPhone + Jam speaker
  • Index Cards
  • Paper

(I used the paint chips to list a range of emotions in English. On one the side of the chip, I listed the main vocabulary word in Albanian.)

paint-chip-teaching-emotions-esl-tefl

Yellow:

  1. Contented
  2. Glad
  3. Delighted
  4. Joyful

Blue:

  1. Unhappy
  2. Blue
  3. Heartbroken
  4. Depressed

Purple:

  1. Uneasy
  2. Tense
  3. Agitated
  4. Anxious

Green:

  1. Envious
  2. Covetous
  3. Jealous
  4. Possessive

Red:

  1. Irritated
  2. Mad
  3. Upset
  4. Furious

Gray:

  1. Dread
  2. Afraid
  3. Frightened
  4. Horrified

The Lesson:

For a warm up, I played the song “Happy” by Pharrell twice, using my iPhone + speaker. First, I asked students just to listen to the song, in order to become familiar with it. After that, I asked students to listen to the song again, and count (using tick marks on a sheet of paper), how many times the word “happy” appeared in the song. (For the record, three of my students counted 28 times, while my other two students had different numbers. The point wasn’t to accurately discover how many times the word was used, but rather to have students practice listening for a specific English word.)

[As a variation to this, you could print the lyrics to the song but delete certain words, and have students listen for/fill in those words.]

Next, I had a discussion with my students about emotions and what they mean. I passed around the paint chips and asked them to copy down the new vocabulary words. ( I had a small group of students. I think this lesson plan could work with a larger group, but you would probably need more copies of the paint chips to pass around.)

Then, I wrote this sentence on the board: “Today I feel _____ because ____.” We went around the circle and each student stated how he/she was feeling, and why.

Next, I asked each student to draw three index cards from the pile I made. Each index card listed a different scenario. Here is what I wrote:

  • Your mom yells at you.
  • You are watching your favorite television show.
  • You got a stain on your favorite shirt.
  • You are playing outside with your friends.
  • You have a big test at school.
  • You broke your arm.
  • You are eating dinner with your family.
  • Your friend got a new iPhone.
  • You lost your dog.
  • Your little sister broke your favorite toy.
  • Your best friend gets a puppy.
  • Your best friend is moving away.
  • Two of your friends go to lunch and don’t invite you.
  • You are lost in Pristina.
  • You are walking alone in the dark.
  • You got into a fight with your best friend.

Students then had to read their scenarios aloud, and identify which emotion(s) they might feel in that situation.

Then, I asked students to write one sentence for each category of emotion, and read them aloud.

We were close to running out of time by this (the group runs for 1 hour), but in the last few minutes of class, I asked students to choose one of the sentences they wrote and draw a picture to illustrate it.

What I like about this lesson plan: 1) It doesn’t require much in the way of material. 2) It incorporates audio learning, visual learning, speaking aloud, critical thinking, creativity, and kinesthetic learning.

I did this lesson with a group of middle and high school students. I think it’s too advanced for younger kids, but there are probably ways to modify it and make it easier.

Creating Teaching Materials

As a visual learner myself, I am drawn to creating visual materials for my classes. (Although I do try to incorporate audio and kinesthetic learning, too.) I wanted to write a post and share some easy-to-make teaching aids, using just a few supplies (paper, scissors, markers/crayons, and tape).

teaching-body-parts
Labeling parts of the body

This summer, my teaching group and I did a lesson on animals, where we created these flashcards.

IMG_3166

A fun game to play is to have students create two lines. Then, students step to the front of the room two-by-two. The teacher holds up a flashcard and the first student to say the correct word wins a point. This game can be adapted to any subject.

For teaching time, I created these flashcards, where students have to match the time to the correct clock.

teaching-time

Some of my younger classes were struggling with learning professions. Using their workbook, I cut out drawings of different professions (since I hate to draw/am bad at it) and taped them to index cards. Then I wrote the names of the professions separately on another set of cards. Students then played a memory game where they had to find and match the correct word/picture. This can also be adapted to any subject.

tefl-flashcards

Last, I created a flashcard set of 30 different pieces of clothing (with each piece colored in three different colors). These can be used in two different ways: 1) Give each student a card, and then ask them to stand up when they hear their clothing piece/color called. For example, “If you are holding the purple hat, stand up.” Or, for smaller classes, you can spread all 30 flashcards on the table, and ask students to gather around. Then, call out a piece/color, and see who can find it the fastest. Example: “Who can find the purple hat?”

clothes-flash-cards

This summer, I worked with my friend and fellow volunteer Chelsea at a 6-day English camp. She created THE CUTEST bear paper dolls (Chelsea loves bears) with little outfits. Students had to dress the bears appropriately, according to the season/weather. (I am trying to convince Chelsea she needs to start a business where she creates a line of bear paper dolls .. we’ll see how that goes. 🙂 )

bear-paper-doll
Created by Chelsea Coombes
bear-paper-dolls
Created by Chelsea Coombes

There are probably countless ways to use flashcards in the classroom, but I wanted to share what I have used and seen used so far. If you are an ESL/TEFL teacher, I hope you found this helpful!