Posted on July 10, 2019 | By Alexa Randell
10th Apr 2019
Teaching young learners can sometimes feel like being a TV presenter – you need to be full of energy, enthusiasm and constantly on your toes! Little ones can need constant entertainment to stay engaged so a few toys, tools and props are key to any lesson! Here’s a few pieces we recommend investing for your classes with young learners.
#1 The fly swatter
The fly swatter is an essential for your TEFL classroom. In fact, you don’t just need one, you need two! Why? Because there are all sorts of competitive activities you can do with a couple of these unusual tools.
For example, you can divide the class into two teams, stick a number of flashcards on the board and call out a word on one of the flashcards. Then, a learner from each team must run to the board and hit the correct flashcard with the fly swatter. The first learner to hit the correct flashcard gets a point for their team.
Another activity you can try with this tool is the ‘Song Swatter’ game. To play this game, write all the key words from a song on the board, split the class into two teams and have a learner from each team stand by the board. The students must slap the word on the board with the fly swatter whenever they hear it and the fastest student gets a point for each word they get.
#2 The ball
There are many activities you can do with a ball. A simple one is asking a question and throwing it to a student to answer and so on. This is normally used for ice breakers when you’re getting to know your learners or as part of the class routine at the beginning of each class.
Another activity is the spelling game. Give the learners a word to spell and give a learner the ball. They say the first letter and pass it on to the next learner to say the second letter and so on until they have spelt the word correctly.
The bomb or hot potato is a game where you give the learners a topic and ask them to say a word related to that topic and then pass the ball on to the next person. The challenge is that there is a timer set, so they must get rid of the ball as fast as they can. If the timer goes off when a learner has the ball, they are out of the game!
#3 Mini basketball
Students love games with a mini basketball to review the target language at the end of the class. To do this, stick a mini basketball net on the board and ask the learners a question in turn. If they get the question right, they can try to score a goal. If they score a goal, they get a point for their team.
Top Tip: If you don’t have a mini basketball net, then use a bin instead.
#4 The puppet
The puppet allows you to bring another personality into the classroom, a character that can only speak English! As the teacher, you can use your imagination to give your puppet a silly voice or a mischievous personality to talk to your students. The puppet engages students to listen and provides students with more confidence to speak, as young learners sometimes feel more comfortable talking to a puppet than to you.
#5 Mini whiteboards
Young learners love drawing or writing on mini whiteboards. An example activity you can do with mini whiteboards is to divide the class into teams, give each team a mini whiteboard, describe a word and get the learners to either draw or write the word you are describing. When they have finished drawing or writing, they should hold up their mini whiteboard. The first team to hold it up with the correct word or drawing wins a point. This kind of activity can also be done in pairs with one of the learners describing a word for their partner to write, making it more learner focused.
Music in the classroom gives you plenty of options for games and classroom management. For games, you can play musical statues or musical chairs to practice vocabulary or grammar points. For classroom management, you can play music when the learners are having quiet time, for example, whilst completing a worksheet.
In addition, you can use songs for listening activities to practice previously learnt vocabulary. Or you can use songs as part of your class routines, such as hello and goodbye songs at the beginning and end of lessons.
#7 Suction balls
In the same way that you can use fly swatters for activities, you can use a suction ball instead. If you’re wondering what an earth a ‘suction ball’ is, it’s a a ball made up of tiny suction cups. You’ll be able to throw them at flat surfaces, like walls and boards, and they should stick. They might also be called ‘sticky balls’ and if you’re going to teach young learners, you’ll soon be surrounded by them!
Try splitting the class into two teams, put flashcards on the board, shout out one of the words on the board and let a student from each team throw the ball at the word they hear. If the students are successful, they get a point for their team.
Another game is to draw a big grid on the board with different vocabulary in each square. Have your young learners line up and throw the sticky ball into the grid. Each student must then use the word they get in a simple sentence. If they use it correctly, they get a point for their team.
If you enjoyed reading about top toys and games for teaching, you might like reading: 5 popular activities for young learners.