children learning english

Bear and very young learners

I use different approaches when Bear works with different age groups. While last term’s  older children enjoyed Bear when he’s informed and alert to their interests by contrast very young learners want to enter into his world and learn about him!!

Over the last few months I’ve been having some interesting discussions with teachers of English to this younger age group. The following three themes dominated.

Preparing for Bear: About a week before Bear arrives he could send a photo or a card. The children are usually very excited when they see a photo of Bear and they are keen to prepare for his arrival and they help by finding a place to put his room/box and where to keep his things. They have lots of suggestions!  Children could also send Bear a drawing with their name.   When he arrives Bear can then play a little game trying to match the children to the drawings – a nice way to make introductions! And all this is helping children realise the very important fact that their new friend only understands English!

Playing with Bear in class: The younger the children the simpler the solution has to be! Basically Bear gets scared if there’s any grabbing or pulling!  If this should happen he goes into his room for a rest!  Bear can play a game, help children to do things when he remains “alive” in our lesson and to do that he always stays with me! Because very young children will always want to touch Bear he often goes around greeting them or they can come up to say goodbye and pat him or hug him when we finish. Bear’s possessions are very useful – children love playing with everything that Bear brings in or leaves in the classroom.

Taking Bear home: Some teachers I know allow their very young learners to take a puppet home.  I don’t do this with Bear. Because he is a major part of English lessons I like to keep Bear active and involved with the children as much as possible. This helps keep them very interested – looking at what he does and what he brings into class in his bag!!  Sending him home could take from this mystery and expectation and make him seem more like a regular toy. But of course Bear loves to lend his photo books to children so they can show their parents and families  what Bear does when he’s at home !

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