A couple of weeks ago I was teaching a lesson on adjectives, in preparation for the children writing a poem later in the week. The plan I’d been given said “have a selection of different coloured items at the front of the classroom and get the children to describe them.”
First item up was a grapefruit. Now the children in this class are all EAL, and having just come back from a long summer holiday, none of them have been using English for several weeks, so this task was difficult. After pair talk and group discussion, they had come up with…… “yellow”! There the word sat, all alone in the middle of the board.
I managed to get them to add a few more to it by giving them choices: Does it feel rough or smooth? Is it heavy or light? Hard or soft? Warm or cold? “Yellow” was slightly less alone on the board, but we still weren’t awash with ideas.
In desperation I asked the TA if she could find a knife, and we cut the grapefruit into chunks and handed it round. Luckily it was a small class so everybody had a bit.
Suddenly the classroom was exploding with ideas. “Oooh, this is sour,” said one child screwing his face up.
“I like it – it’s juicy!” said another.
“It’s wet inside. I thought it would be dry.”
“My mouth feels funny – it’s all tingly.”
“Please can I wash my hands, Miss? They’re sticky.”
The board filled up really quickly – in fact I ran out of space – which just goes to prove that well-known rule. If you want to inspire children, bring food into your lessons.