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I'm helping out as a volunteer teaching underprivileged kids English, and I'm looking for some ideas to make it interesting for them. They are around 11 - 12 years old, they don't really want to be in the class and they don't really care whether they learn English or not. A bit of a challenge!
We did 'Head, shoulders knees and toes' last week which they loved and participated in, and I'm thinking of Old MacDonald for a lesson to learn animal names.
Anyone got any ideas of really fun, simple, interactive songs or lessons I could use? It needs to be very entertaining and proactive to get their attention!
 

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The Hokey Pokey perhaps?
All I can think of at the moment. Sorry, I will have a better think in the morning.
 

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I'm helping out as a volunteer teaching underprivileged kids English, and I'm looking for some ideas to make it interesting for them. They are around 11 - 12 years old, they don't really want to be in the class and they don't really care whether they learn English or not. A bit of a challenge!
We did 'Head, shoulders knees and toes' last week which they loved and participated in, and I'm thinking of Old MacDonald for a lesson to learn animal names.
Anyone got any ideas of really fun, simple, interactive songs or lessons I could use? It needs to be very entertaining and proactive to get their attention!
I did 'There was an old lady who swallowed a fly' with a group that age & they performed it for their parents - it was a full term project - just a part of each lesson every week

they made big pictures & models to illustrate it - it was the hit of the end of year show!
 

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I found "Simon says" was a good game for directions e.g. turn left, body parts e.g. touch your nose and general instructions e.g. sit down.
Bingo for numbers
Wordsearch for all sorts of vocab, which can be made more complicated by asking for use in spoken or written sentences and stories.
Hangman for filling a few minutes.
Sorry I can't help with songs as I was teaching French to classes similar to those you describe in the UK.
 

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At that age children love games. I don't know how big a group you have, what type of venue you're in or how much time you have, so it's hard to suggest anything. But assuming you're in a classroom they could use the board to play Pictionary or Cranium, or simply play charades (use basic words in English for the target expressions). Another quick and easy game is Simon Says - they can point to or touch anything in the area, or do action verbs. There's also picture bingo or even regular bingo - they each draw up their own 2x3 or 3x3 card choosing from a list of maybe 15-20 target words. You could buy some "sticky hands" from a Chinese bazaar
and have a throwing contest to hit the correct picture from a bunch that you've hung on the board or wall. Use your imagination to come up with more games. That's the fun of being a teacher!

Be careful not to treat them as preschoolers, even if their English is like a 2 year old's. Frankly I can't see a 12 year old enjoying making animal noises with Old MacDonald. At that age they are almost teens, after all.
 

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I did 'There was an old lady who swallowed a fly' with a group that age & they performed it for their parents - it was a full term project - just a part of each lesson every week

they made big pictures & models to illustrate it - it was the hit of the end of year show!
I absolutely adored that as a kid and was fascinated by the story! I just looked it up on YouTube and found the actual one I watched as a kid in school - over and over again. Great memories on this one. :)

 

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Be careful not to treat them as preschoolers, even if their English is like a 2 year old's. Frankly I can't see a 12 year old enjoying making animal noises with Old MacDonald. At that age they are almost teens, after all.
I was going to say that I'm amazed they enjoyed some of those songs!


One of the games my kids of all ages have really enjoyed lately is something that in Spanish they called "autobus." It works best in smaller groups (I'd say max 12 because you need to quickly correct the papers between rounds).


1. Pre-teach the alphabet. The alphabet song is the easiest way to do this. Since they're "big kids", have some fun with it. Just laugh at the absurdity that you're all singing a song for babies. I'd probably write the trickiest letters on the board:

A E I O U Y K Q

(1.5. If you want, do the alphabet race. Divide the class into two lines. Shout out two or three letters. The first person in each line has to rush to the board to write the letters you just said. If they're correct, their team gets a point. [The reason I say two or three letters is because you're a bit less likely to have "he copied me! I finished first!" fights.] This is also a good way to practice spelling vocab.)

2. You have them divide their paper into six columns:
NAMES - ANIMALS - FOODS - PLACES - OBJECTS
The last column is "Points" where you will put the points as you correct the papers.

3. You call out a letter. They must write down ONE item for each category that STARTS with the letter you called out. Once someone has written five items down, they call out "STOP!" and everyone must put their pens down and hand in their papers.

4. You quickly correct the papers. I'm pretty generous: If the kid wrote a correct answer phonetically, I give them 0.5 If the answer is totally correct, I give them a full point.

It's a good way to review vocabulary that they have already learned in school and to practice the alphabet. I wouldn't dedicate more than half an hour to the game since it can get drawn out and, if the kids are competitive, a bit rowdy. Pre-teaching the alphabet could take up the other half of the class.


=================

Another one of my favorite activities is called "Make a Monster." It's great for practicing numbers, body vocab, and basic adjectives. (If the kids have crayons or colored pencils, you can also work colors into the mix.)

Give each student a piece of paper. Tell them they've got to draw exactly what you say.

Describe a monster using the "I have got..." structure. Eg.

- I have got a BIG (RED) BODY.
- I have got NINE LONG (GREEN) ARMS.
- I have got EIGHTEEN (PURPLE) HANDS.
- I have got SIX (BLACK) FINGERS.
- I have got a SMALL (BLUE) HEAD.
- I have got ONE (YELLOW) EYE.
- I have got THREE BIG (ORANGE) NOSES.

etc.

Make sure they know not to get ahead of you. You will tell them exactly what to draw. (In my experience, kids draw the hands the moment you say arms, the feet the moment you say legs, etc.) I like to mix it up, using different numbers for hands and arms, etc. to practice more numbers.

At the end, have each kid name their monster and present them to the class. "I am Robertomonstruo. I am a monster!"

Even though your students are nearly teenagers, I've found that this project works quite well with that age group because they're still innocent enough to have fun with it. Also, it's a great way to review the most basic vocab: numbers, colors, body parts and very basic adjectives.


Good luck!
 

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If there's anyone here who is teaching young learners, you MUST check these songs out:
https://www.youtube.com/user/SuperSimpleSongs

They also have a ton of free worksheets available: Kids songs, ABCs, videos, & free flashcards from Super Simple Learning

NOTE: These are best for 2nd primary or younger.

I am totally in love with Super Simple Learning. The best part is that my first graders are too.
Their stuff is a staple in my very young learners classes. Totally agree that it's all great.
 
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