Roller Coasters & Rainstorms: fun in the language classroom

Don’t tell the other teachers your school our secret: language teachers have the most fun!

I mean, it doesn’t matter what we do in class, as long as we’re loading them up with Spanish or French or Latin or Japanese that they understand, we’re doing our jobs because they’re acquiring language!

Here are two such activities, that add fun and language to class. I consider them brain breaks, but some wouldn’t, since there’s a language element. For me, a brain break is like a commercial: it gives us a change of pace and a chance to switch gears, then we get back to previously scheduled programming. My brain breaks generally get them moving, but we still stay in our target language, because our time together is so limited and so precious! And like anything else in class (and life!) these are most fun when used sparingly! You’ll have the best results of you do it a few times a year… not a few times a week! And without further to do…

Roller Coaster

First ask them (in your target language, obvio) who likes roller coasters (you know, doing what we do- making language comprehensible by going slow and defining any “out of bounds” words by writing them in English and TL on the board) Ask who loves roller coasters and who is afraid of roller coasters. Ask which is the best/fastest/tallest/ scariest roller coaster. And do they want to ride a roller coaster right now?! I have them move their seats as I direct them (just to get them up and moving!) and open up a “POV roller coaster” video on YouTube. While we ride, I holler out commands: to the right! Lean back! Put your hands up! Scream! Now to the left! They scream and lean left and right and laugh (and a kid usually pretends to barf on the girl sitting in front of him!) Then we exit the roller coaster to the right, put our chairs back, then it’s back to business. Wanna watch? It’s just so much fun:

 

What a time to be a language teacher, guys! YouTube has everything: search POV Race car and POV bumper cars and POV anything! Imagine the possibilities!

Rainstorm:

Again,  start by writing and defining “Rainstorm” on the board and chatting a bit about it. Kiddos- who loves rainstorms? Do we get many rainstorms where we live? Is it raining now? We’re going to make a rainstorm in the classroom.

Since we’re happily deskless, before we begin, everyone has to get a binder or whiteboard for their lap. It’s hard to tell in the video, but I’ve got a clipboard on my lap to demonstrate what to do. My students sit in a horseshoe formation around me, and I give instructions in Spanish to groups of students at a time. So group A will keep doing what I told them to do, until they get another instruction.  I’ll give a few more instructions below, but this one is just sooooo cool. You’ve got to watch:

 

For you non-Spanish speakers, basically what I said was:

To group A: Now you guys, do this with just one finger (as I demonstrate tapping on my clipboard) Continue that.

To group B: Now you guys also tap with just one finger. Keep going.

To group C: You guys tap with one finger also….

To group A: Now we’re going to do the same thing, but with 2 fingers…

Then, group by group they tap with two fingers, then 5 fingers, then 10 fingers, then with their palms, then they stomp with their feet and make wind noises, then group by group we go backwards, cutting out the wind, then the stomping, then the palms, the 10 fingers, 5 fingers, 2 fingers, until the storm has nearly passed and there are just a few stray raindrops, and then it’s over.

This one is a a great activity if there’s a lot of energy in the room and you need to calm them down and focus them.  And it’s just so much fun, you’ve got to try it!

You know what else is fun?! SPRING BREAK! I’m in Miami enjoying my Spring Break, searching for manatees and eating cubano sandwiches.  (Fun Fact: I’ve been obsessed with Manatees since I was in elementary school and I even started a Save the Manatee Club when I was in the 4th grade and charged my friends dues who came to my Save the Manatee meetings, and you know what? IT WORKED! My club singlehandedly Saved the Manatees and now they’re not on The Endangered Species List anymore.) 

Oh, and speaking of Florida…I’ll be back in July for iFLT, the Summer Camp of CI Conferences in St Petersburg and I can’t wait! Who’s going?! (and if you’re going and haven’t  figured out your accommodations yet, I rented a cute Airbnb near the conference site because I’m tacaña and I wanted something cheaper than a hotel! But if I don’t find roommates, this is going to be an expensive mistake. I’ve got 2 bedrooms that I’m hoping to rent out- if you’re interested and want more details, send me an email from the “contact” page!) 

Who else is on break this week? What are you up to?! 

2 Comments

  1. Super fun ideas as always! I am going to be IFLT but my school made me get a hotel because of liability or some other odd reason seeing as it is SO much more expensive. I had also scoped out Airbnbs and found so many fun options! I was so disappointed when they nixed my idea. Oh well! Hope to meet you there in person! Chantal.

    Like

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