Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How to teach foreign students (and not only) about Thanksgiving

Hey, everyone!

As the holiday season approaches more quickly than everyone I thought, I decided to show you what I use in class before Thanksgiving.

As you might know, I teach in a multinational school, therefore, many students do not know, or know too less, about this American holiday. I do have many nationalities in my class, Indian, Pakistani, Korean, Chinese, British, and others. Since recently, I only told them verbally what the holiday was about, maybe even add a short Youtube video, but it didn't seem to be enough. The following year the same questions were asked, by the same students.

The most common questions they asked me were:

-What do Americans celebrate on Thanksgiving? (the history)
-Why is it called Thanksgiving?
-Why do people eat turkey that day?
-What other things did they eat on Thanksgiving?

This year I decided to try it differently, and so I created my own story about the topic. It's very easy for the children to relate to it because the main character is also a foreign student, a Korean  girl who is new to a school.


Little Sally (check my two other stories about Sally here) is about to have lunch with her friends, when she notices little Ahyun eating alone in the cafeteria. She invites her to have lunch with her and her friends. The group was just talking about the delicious turkey dinner they were going to have the following dinner.

Ahuyn got very interested in what they were talking, and she started asking questions about Thanksgiving (the questions above), the children started to tell her all about it; the history, when it is celebrated, why do people eat turkey then, and many other things.


The story is 3 pages long ( over 400 words) and it accessible for grades 1,2,3 and even 4 if we are talking about ESL learners.

After the story, I also included a small activity book with over 6 pages of Vocabulary exercises and 5 Comprehension exercises.




After finishing up those pages, the students can relax with a Thanksgiving wordsearch, and a crossword puzzle, as well as an "I am thankful for..." page, where they can share to the group some things that they are thankful for.


You can find my Thanksgiving pack here.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

My Fall Story

Hey, friends!

Hopefully everyone is peacefully enjoying the last days of autumn. Before starting all the Thanksgiving craftivities, I decided to show you how I used this Fall Story Activity Book.

It contains my latest story - A Leaf's Last Sunset. You will read about Sally again, she is imagining a dialogue between the last two leaves from the maple tree, in front of her house.

The story is written especially for my second and third graders. It is fall themed, it may have many uses and is highly customizable. You may choose the worksheets that you consider are appropriate for the topics you study at the moment, or you can mix the vocabulary, comprehension and grammar exercises, or even as week-end / extra homework. 

The pack is printer-friendly, the pictures were left black and white, with the possibility for the students to color them. If you wish for a black and white background, just select so before you hit print.  

I printed the material in booklet version, and it was easier for the students to complete it this way. 

The actual story was written for children to understand the meaning of the fall season, what happens to the leaves after they fall to the ground. It contains a range of accessible words for children between 8-11, or even higher if they are not native speakers. 

The activity pack that follows the story is divided into three categories: Vocabulary, Comprehension and Grammar exercises. They are all related to the story and Fall themed. 

1. Vocabulary Exercises

In the Vocabulary section I included a 'Fill in the missing letters' exercise. I also checked the students' ability of spelling some words. On the following page, they had to arrange the words in alphabetical order

Exercise C was intended for checking that the students know the meaning of several words, and mostly that they are able to choose the appropriate one, depending on the context. 

I also wanted to revise the meaning of synonyms. I asked the learners to write at least two synonyms for each of the words. It was an appropriate time to use their thesauruses as well. Some of them actually managed to find very interesting synonyms and I heard them using them. 

The next thing I wanted to revise was the meaning of antonyms. Using the clipart, I wrote 5 words and their antonyms on leaves and the students had to match them. They also wanted to color the leaves afterwards. 

I could't let this opportunity pass by, and I asked the students to use two pairs of antonyms in sentences of their own. 

In exercise G, they had to write the number of the unscrambled word in each box.

B. Comprehension Exercises.

After every text we read, I want to make sure that students understood the main idea of the text, the most important character and other facts. I included 5 questions about the text and also an exercise in which the students had to arrange events in chronological order.

In exercise C, the students had to state whether the 5 given sentences are true or false. The Comprehension exercises may require that the students reread the story.
Exercise D had as purpose the use of as many descriptive words as they could. I did not put too much emphasis on the drawing, but on the description of the landscape. 

3. Grammar Exercises. 

Throughout this section, my focus was mainly on the parts of speech. The children were required to write the plural of five nouns, and then to use them in sentences, 

The, the students were given a paragraph from the story and were asked to underline the verbs with green, the nouns with red, and the adjectives with blue. It was tricky for some of them, but I did consider this exercise useful as it showed me the students who are still struggling to differentiate the parts of speech.

The last exercise included regarded to the simple tenses of the verb. The students had to complete a table with missing tenses of different verbs. 

You can find my product here.

BONUS: a picture of my furry assistant, who was not able to solve any of the exercises, but insisted to say hello. 

Until next time,