I begin most of my classes with young learners in Circle Time (see this post for more information). The beginning of each class normally includes students telling the class something they’d like to share, a hello song and a question that we ask around the circle in a chain format (each one answering and then asking the person next to them). Although we sometimes ask questions like, ‘How old are you?’ or ‘What’s your favourite colour/animal/food?’, quite often we ask each other, ‘How are you today?’. When I ask the class all together, they know to reply, ‘I’m fine, thank you’. This is the generally accepted response to that type of question. But when we ask each other in circle time, the learners have the opportunity to express how they’re feeling that day.
We begin the activity with me holding the laminated emoji cards in my hands and eliciting each from the students. The feelings shown in the cards are the following: cold, hot, hungry, thirsty, sad, tired, scared, surprised, happy, angry, ill and worried. A few of my students also took it upon themselves to create their own cards for dizzy, hurt and sleepy.
As they name the feelings, I put the cards in the middle on the floor so that everyone can see them. Then I ask the first student to my left or right, ‘How are you today?’ initiating the question chain. I try to insist that students respond in a complete sentence with ‘I’m’ and it’s also a good way of getting them to practice using ‘and’ as a connector.
Students really seem to enjoy this activity because it’s highly personalized and allows them to express how they’re feeling. At first I thought they might always end up saying, ‘I’m happy’ but I’ve noticed that some of them like to pretend how they’re feeling and in this way use a variety of the vocabulary. It’s interesting and motivating to see students so young using that type of strategy to practice English.
I find this activity useful on many levels as it serves to get them thinking and speaking in English as well as teaching them vocabulary that we’ll inevitably use in class to talk about how characters feel in stories, etc. Indeed, some of the feelings (e.g., worried, surprised) are taken directly from stories we will read in class and this is a way of pre-teaching those words. It’s very easy to adapt this activity to the vocabulary needs of any class.
Do you use a similar activity in your classroom? Or would you consider introducing this feelings activity? Please share any comments on your experiences below. Thanks for reading!