You’re teaching a group of young learners and they just won’t sit still, no matter how many times you tell them to. They can’t seem to concentrate on anything you want to do with them. What can you do about it?
Give them an energy break, of course!
Try some of these ideas to use up at least a bit of their energy.
- Brain Breaks therapy – the first one in the video, ‘ear and nose’, is my go-to. Lots more on their blog.
- 20 three-minute brain breaks – a lot of these could be combined with revision of vocabulary
- GoNoodle songs with movement (‘Purple Stew’ used to get stuck in my head every week when the Playgroup teacher used it in the classroom next to my office!)
- Jazz chants, like these ones on Jane Harding da Rosa’s blog
- Boom Chicka Boom, which I believe is a particular favourite of Kylie Malinowska, whose blog you should definitely look at if you teach young learners:
- Board races – great for revision too, though think about how to set it up if you have pre-literate students. Divide the students into two teams (more if the board is big enough) and have them run to the board. Loads of ways to vary these:
- Say a definition, they write a word
- Say a word, they draw a picture
- Show a flashcard to the person at the back, they whisper to the next person in line and so on until the person at the front writes/draws it
- Say a word in English to the person at the back, they say it in L1 to the next person, who says it in English, and so on to the front. Either L1 or English is written on the board, depending on what they finish on.
- And many, many more (please add them to the comments!)
Energy breaks can mean encouraging calm too. Meditation and mindfulness exercises change the energy levels in the room.
- This video is a 1-minute meditation.
- Lots more ideas in this list of 14 meditations for young children, some of which are suitable for the classroom.
- This is a very long list, but I think Spidey Senses (near the top) is particularly useful as an energy break, though low-level students might not be able to explain in English what they’ve noticed.
As a side note, if this is a regular problem in your lessons, you might want to check that your plans are interspersing activities which stir and settle. Here’s and introduction to stirrers and settlers from Teaching English British Council, and some tips on planning tasks for young learner lessons from ELT Planning.
What would you add to this list?