Arts & Crafts
Arts & Crafts are a great way to consolidate new vocabulary with young learners.
Young learners can develop a multitude of skills when doing Arts & Crafts (and as Napoleon Dynamite says “Everybody needs skills man”) – speaking skills, motor skills, new process language. In a recent lesson teaching ‘clothes’ to a class of young learners, we made a clothesline using clothes the students had cut out.
Benefits of Arts & Crafts
Motor skills – Doing arts & crafts will enable young learners to begin developing their motor skills, doing tasks like using scissors and cutting shapes out (in my class they were cutting clothes out), holding and using a pencil, sticking and pasting things together etc.
New process language – you can introduce all sorts of useful language with arts and crafts. For example, with the use of scissors and glue learners can be exposed to collocations like cut out, stick on, press here etc. Doing Arts & Crafts is a great opportunity to input some useful process language.
Recycling new language – by the very nature of the activity the learners are going to hear you talking using the vocabulary, for example “cut out the socks”. Hopefully when the students ask for clarity to do something they will begin to use the TL also.
It’s fun – most importantly it’s fun. It’s a great change up for the students, but its also a chance for us , the teachers to do something a bit different.
Overcoming Problems of Arts & Crafts
The Importance of Staging
Often the difficulty with this sort of task is in managing students. All students will have differing abilities when using pencils, scissors and glue for example, so the rate of completing the task will be different.
The solution that I have found to work best is to micro task. Break each step in the activity and stop students from moving on to the next step until everybody has finished that step. For example, when doing the clothesline with my class, all the students coloured their clothes first. Nobody got scissors to cut out the clothes unitil everybody had finished colouring. It’s important with tasks like colouring to give students a time limit or it will take all day.
Once students are cutting and sticking, I then use fast finishers to help the slower students. This keeps the class moving along, making sure nobody gets left behind whilst always ensuring everyone is busy.
Where’s the Language Learning?
Aside from the meta language being learnt in doing the task, giving instructions, asking for clarification, there are always lots of opportunity to use the completed arts and crafts projects as props for speaking, writing or listening activities.
When using arts and crafts in my class, once the students had made their clothesline, they then did a mingle speaking activity to share with other students what clothes were on their clothesline.