In this article were going to go over some different games and activities that you can use for your classes with children aged 0 to 2. The students in these classes are so young and have so little concentration that the games and activities that you can use are limited. First and foremost they have to be short and fast. You need to be moving on to something within 5 to 7 minutes. Anything longer than that and the child will lose interest. Different children will respond to different games and activities so what might work for one child might not work for another. You need to try to use different games and activities and see which one works best with those children or that class. Let’s take a look at some commonly used games and activities.
Picture books are a very good tool to use with this age group. The children are probably already used to having their mother or father read them picture books. The picture books are illustrated in a way to catch the attention of the child. Reading one picture book will usually last about five minutes. And at this young age children like doing activities that they have already experienced so it is easy to use these books as review as well.
It is important to choose a picture book that is made specifically for these young children or where you can change the written text to make it simpler and easier for them. Try to find a picture book that is focusing on basic English concepts such as colors, different foods, and different animals. Stay away from books that have more complicated sentence structures, complicated vocabulary words in complicated stories. There are some ways that you can take a book that was created for older children say 3 to 6 years old and use them with children aged 0-2.
This is basically the same game as “pick it up!” (add link) but much more simplified. This can be played with vocabulary cards or stuffed animals. Obviously stuffed animals will catch the attention of the children more than vocabulary cards but then you sometimes have another problem where the child’s wants to play with the stuffed animal and completely ignores the English lesson. Also stuffed animals can be much more expensive than simply getting a set of vocabulary cards. The basic idea is to place four or five cards in front of the child, then the teacher will say one of the vocabulary words and the student will choose or grab that corresponding vocabulary card. It’s incredibly simple but can be effective as a short review activity. It can be more effective when used in combination with a picture book. Perhaps the picture book that you read went over various animals. Then you can take the same animal vocabulary cards and play this game with the children.
Songs can be very effective with this age group. If you can convince the mothers or fathers to buy the same CD that you use in your class and use it whenever they are transporting their child in the car this can be doubly effective. As I mentioned in another article a lot of teachers dislike singing and dancing. I would not recommend anyone use any game or activity which they did not feel comfortable with doing. If you’re heart is not into it then I think it’ll be difficult to use it as an effective tool and you should try something else.
There are a couple things to remember when using songs to teach English. One is to emphasize particular words that you’re trying to teach. You need to be able look at a song and look at the lyrics and decide what you are trying to teach this child with the song. Does the song mention different family members? Does the song mention different body parts? Does the song have commonly used greetings? You need to understand what it is your teaching by using the song. Simply singing a bunch of songs is not going to help. You also need to try to match the song with body movement and body gestures. For example if your singing the “head, shoulders, knees and toes” song then during the song every time they mention one of the body parts and you need to go ahead and touch that body part. Try to get the students and mothers and fathers to do it with you. Hopefully soon the young children will copy everyone. Many CDs that have songs created for English classes will have a pamphlet or booklet inside the CD showing some recommended body movements to use with the songs. Songs can be very beneficial and fun for the child. For many parents, teaching young children always involves song and dance. Songs can be of the most benefit when they are used in conjunction with the parents using the CD as well.
This is not really a game or activity but it is nonetheless essential. Simply taking vocabulary cards and holding them in front of the child while saying the word. You can do this with five or six cards. You really don’t want to do this with any more than that. Often after doing this you can transition into one of the other games or activities. So if you’re using vocabulary cards with different animals written on them, for example, dog, cat, bird, frog, spider, rabbit. After you introduce the vocab to the children the next activity should be a picture book that is related to and also uses the same vocabulary as the words you just reviewed.
As mentioned previously this can be one of the most difficult classes to teach. Holding the children’s attention can be extremely difficult. Very often the children will cry or throw a tantrum during class. The mothers and fathers have high expectations for their children that can be difficult to meet. Many of the games and activities require you to speak in a baby voice or dance around in a funny way. Without a doubt teaching these young of children is not for everyone but the above activities and games can be used to make the class easier for the child and easier for you as well.