On my very first visit to the English Book Club this Fall, I brought along a book I borrowed from the US Embassy. It is called Mix and Match Villains by Eric and Susan Goldberg. Little did I know, this book created a tutoring breakthrough.
A little background first. Parents at the Zagreb French and German School want their kids to practice their English beyond the two hours a week in school. An English Book Club was then created as an after-school activity, and I, a native English speaker, got on board. I work with kids who are 6-9 years old and are beginners.
In each class we spend an hour reading a book, reviewing it then going over vocabulary through games and activities. The goal is to have the kids practice English without FEELING like they are still in school.
When I took Mix and Match Villains, I was skeptical. Would the kids understand the story? The characters?
After flipping the first page, the kids were laughing. See, when you flip parts of the pages, the pictures become silly: a gargoyle head on a mermaid's body, etc. The kids loved it. Even if they did not understand the words, they enjoyed the experience.
Other books I brought in were silly but not nearly as fun for the kids to read. I kept trying to find that initial enjoyment. Finally, I realized I should just recreate it myself.
Although I do love art, I was not ready to make a whole book. Instead, I recreated a silly mix-and-match story. Quickly, I pulled together supplies I had on hand (and that you can easily get) to make mix-and-match sentences. I created four decks of cards: adjective, subject, verb, prepositional phrase. Flip a card, and the sentence changes.
But how to decide how to flip the cards? I love dice, my nieces and nephews love dice... I decided to add dice to the mix. I made six cards in each deck, and each student gets to roll the dice to figure out which card would be face up. After the fourth kid, the sentence was complete.
At first, the kids were interested. By the end of round one, they were all bought in. In fact, on the next visit when I pulled the cards out of my bag, they cheered. The kids CHEERED! After two weeks, I replaced the adjective deck to change it up. I drew pictures of the words on the back. I will continue to play with the concept because it WORKS!
In the next couple of months, I hope to work with the students to create their own flip books. And I look forward to finding other ways to make mix-and-match fun. What games have you created that made your kids cheer? I am constantly looking for ways to engage them!