It’s taken me a while to find time to write this post but it’s finally here.  The idea for this post came from Zhenya Polosatova’s blog post on #liveninguptheprocesschallenge .

I use quite a bit of material in my classes with young learners.  Some material is the same every day but other things I bring in (realia, flashcards, storycards, craft materials, etc) will depend on what we’re doing in that particular lesson.  I always seem to have a ton of stuff but everything has its purpose. My classes with Pre-School are very different from those in Primary so I’m sharing two pictures.

These are some of the items that I use every day with pre-school aged students:


Emoji cards:  We use these mainly for the warmer question at the beginning- ‘How are you today?’  We ask the person next to us in circle time so it’s a chain question format.  Before we begin I always elicit the different emotions demonstrated by the emojis.

Helper badges: These are the blue badges with stars.  Every class I have two helpers who assist me in handing out worksheets and folders and collecting them at the end of class.  If a student has been misbehaving in class, they could lose a turn at being helper.

Please raise your hand poster:  Students often forget to raise their hand to speak and start interrupting other people who are speaking.  Usually I just have to point at the poster and that’s enough to remind them to raise their hand and wait their turn.

Fish bowls:  This is a classroom management strategy that I’ve used for years.  Each student has a fish with their name on it that they colored in on the first day of class.  Their fish starts off in the beautiful blue bowl with the dolphin, octopus and crab but when a student somehow misbehaves, I move their fish to the bowl with the shark.  The student has to correct their behavior during the rest of the class.  If they are showing effort and have improved their behavior, I move their fish back to the blue bowl at the end of class.  If they continue to misbehave, their fish stays with the shark and they lost their next turn at helper.  Most days I only have to point to the fish bowl and ask if I need to move their fish.  This is usually enough to get a student back on track.

Puzzle piece: Students sit in circle time on these foam puzzle pieces.  I started using these because the floor can be cold and it’s also a great way to organize where they’re supposed to sit.  They sometimes play with the mat but consistent reminders to keep their hands in their laps keeps them focused.

Cheeky Monkey puppet: I’ve used the Cheeky Monkey books for ten years now (!!) and this is the puppet that comes with them.  The kids adore Cheeky and love to start the class by giving him hugs and kisses.  When older students see Cheeky on my table or in my box they always get excited.  I’m changing books next year (it’s time…) and I hope the new puppet will be as popular as Cheeky.

These are some of the things I take to a Primary aged class, in this case it would be 5th:


Various posters: I hang these on the edges of the board every class.  One is to remind them to raise their hands and another is to offer some useful phrases in English.  There’s also one with flags from English-speaking countries to remind them to speak in English and a Spanish flag for those times when L1 can be used (when we’re discussing a grammar topic or a writing project). There’s also a poster to remind students of what’s expected of them in class: effort, participation, behaviour and attitude.  The big blue S is what I refer to as the super S.  I use it to teach them about the third person singular ‘s’.

Flashcards and word cards: I use flashcards in all of my classes and word cards with Primary.  We use them for presenting vocabulary, revising, fast finisher activities, reminders of what to use in writing tasks… there are so many different ways you can use them!

Stars: In 3rd, 4th and 5th, I have two helpers who assist me in giving out worksheets and collecting assignments.  They also have stars on their desks.  If they hear another student speaking English, they give them a star.  If the student then speaks in Spanish, they take the star away but the student can earn the star back if they later speak in English. This method has worked like a dream to curb the use of L1 in class and motivate them to try it in L2.

Name cards: The students sit in pairs and we change seating every day so that they get to work with different partners.  Before they come in the classroom I put the name cards on their desks to assign seating.  I’m really happy with this strategy because students of this age seem to need the variety.  Whereas the younger students seem to enjoy the structure and stability of knowing who they’ll be next to for the trimester, students in 4th and 5th get bored with the monotony.

Flashdrive:  I like to use the smartboard to show a document on Word of the target language I want them to use during a dialogue or a pairwork activity.  Creating the document before class saves me time at the board and gives us more time for drilling and for them to do the activity.

Thank you to Zhenya for this fascinating challenge.  It’s been fun sharing what I use in class.  I encourage you to check out her post  and participate in the challenge!

About careymicaela

I've been teaching Young Learners and Very Young Learners for over ten years now. My degrees are in Psychology and Spanish. I also completed my TEFL certification in Madrid and the Ih Young Learners Course in Seville. I enjoy working with children and sharing those experiences with other teachers. In my free time (when that exists!) I like to read, listen to music, practice yoga and go on long cycling routes.
This entry was posted in materials, reflections, Young Learners and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to #liveninguptheprocesschallenge

  1. Pingback: Livening Up the Process | Wednesday Seminars

  2. Zhenya says:

    Hi Micaela

    Thank you so much for this generous idea shower! Wow, so impressive (and makes me want to get back to YL class so much!) I often think that these kids are the best ‘teachers of how to teach’! 🙂

    My personal learning is about the way you organize the ‘helper’ system: the badges and the stars are great! I imagine how kids take this role seriously (up to certain age, I guess) and help you monitor what is going on. L1/L2 monitoring is fun this way! Very student-centered.

    Your fish example reminded me of another L1/L2 technique I heard from a colleague: the fish goes ‘dead’ (upside down) if L1 is used, and comes back to life when English is spoken again. I think my colleague was also using this trick for managing discipline, but I am not sure. The way you arrange the crab, the dolphin, the octopus and the shark 🙂

    Something I recalled from using the star system with kids and then having a lesson with adults in the same room. They were curious, asked lots of questions about the system and then seriously suggested having the same one for their group. Hm, there is a point in this 🙂

    Loved your post, made me want to come and join you in prep and teaching. Are you attending InnovateELT in Barcelona by any chance? I am going to come, would be fun to meet in person!


    Liked by 1 person

    • careymicaela says:

      Hi Zhenya! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Thank you for starting the challenge. It was fun to participate!
      InnovateELT in Barcelona looks really interesting and I’ll keep it in mind but I really doubt I’ll be able to make it. Lots of other things happening around that time. If I do end up going, you’ll be the first to know! It would be great to meet in person. 🙂 Looking forward to hearing all about it on your blog too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Guest Post: My Training Bag | Wednesday Seminars

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