Thursday, 31 October 2013

All Hallows' Eve

On the first day of November, the Catholic Church honours all the saints, known and unknown. In Polish tradition it is a rather solemn holiday. We also celebrate the following day, All Souls' Day. 
At this time of the year it is common to visit graves of relatives, pray for their souls and decorate their graves with special grave lights and flowers (chrysanthemum is popular). This is my tradition because I'm Polish and Catholic.

I'm aware that people around the world have different cultural and religious traditions. It is very easy to judge other people and their beliefs, especially when they are different from ours. So instead of judging or copying traditions, learn more about them.

On October 31st many people celebrate Halloween. For the average Pole it's a ghost festival. It's the common misconception.
The names Halloween and All Hallows' Eve (the Eve of All Saint's Day) come from the Old English halga, which means "saint", but the origins of the festival trace back to the ancient Celts who celebrated the end of summer on that day. In the mid-8th Century it was christianised, as Pope Gregory III moved the date of All Saints' Day to November 1st. 

Between 1500-1800 Halloween traditions included bonfires (to guide Christian souls in purgatory), fortune telling (even of romantic nature) and souling (children went from house to house praying for the souls of the dead). By the end of the 17th Century the festival lessened in importance. 

Halloween came to the United States probably with the Irish emigrants during the Great Potato Famine in 1845. Of course, it was adapted to local conditions, e.g. turnips were replaced with pumpkins. Also the modern form of "trick or treating" was born in the US. It's worth remembering that Halloween celebrates the harvest season. It represents the beginning of autumn, the season that marks the transition from summer into winter (from life to death).

I think we don't have to worry that Halloween will replace our Polish traditions some day. I have no right to decide whether children in Poland should celebrate it or not, but they definitely should learn about it.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Irregular verbs

Recently I've been teaching this topic to different age groups. Many people ask me "How am I supposed to learn it?" The answer is: "by heart". Easier said than done, I know. 
Here's some help. You can play these online games.

1) Blast the rocket

2) Sentence Monkey

3) Irregular verbs hangman

4) Snakes and Ladders

5) Past Tense Memory

You can also check Macmillan Grammar Wheel:

And here's something from me. Tetrahedral dice (4-sided) with irregular verbs (be, do, have, make, take, get, give and see). Tetraherdon is a triangular based pyramid.

Can you share in the comments your ideas to use 4-sided dice with irregular verbs? Is this idea useful?

PS. My friend, Karolina, shared a video with me today. Listen to an American teacher rapping irregular verbs.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

To play or not to play

I may not be the greatest fan of computer games unlike my husband, but I like playing brain games. Today I'd like to present you three of my favourite games. I've already shown them to some of my students (9 - 12 years old) and they were quite interested. I'm aware that computer games keep children sitting in front of a computer screen for too long, but with games like these they aren't wasting their time.
Let me introduce game number 1.

Little alchemy

At the beginning of the game you've got four elements: water, fire, earth and air. You have to combine the elements to get 416 more, eg. human or even a doughnut. Sometimes the combinations are very tricky and not so obvious :) The names of the elements are in English, so in the meantime you can learn a new word or two.


I like Maths and the game seemed so simple to me. But believe me, it's getting more difficult with each level. The task is to slide numbers together to add them up (you have to make 10s). 

Electric Box

I'm not good at Physics, but Electric Box is one of my favourites. The goal is to connect power to the set target using different components from the inventory.

As you can see, the aim of these games is to figure out something and to think outside the box sometimes. But be careful, they can be addictive ;)

What's your favourite brain game? Please, share them in the comments.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Mind Mapping

I bet you've heard about Tony Buzan's idea of mind mapping. It's my favourite way of learning, planning, revising and organizing. Mind maps help me develop my creativity, although my drawings are very simple. Of course you can use a bunch of online tools and software, but I prefer pen and paper (or colourful pens and paper). 
How to make a mind map? Here's a mind map about mind mapping:

You can also read more here:

And here's another mind map I've made. I'm very proud of it.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Question words

It seems to be quite a simple topic, but I know some of my students have a problem with question words. As you may know, things or concepts are much easier to remember if there are pictures connected with them. Last year I made a little help for my 4th graders, but since then I use it with different groups. 
The worksheet consists of:
1) coloured version of Qword-icon connection
2) black-and-white version Qword-icon connection
3) question words dice template wih icons only
4) question words dice template wih words only
The first two can be used as a summary note, and the dice can be used to reinforce and revise question words. For example, you can play a game with the dice. I suggest using flashcards too. Students can work in pairs or in teams. A student rolls the dice and picks up a flashcard. Then they make a question with a word from the flashcard and a question word from the face of the dice. If the question is grammatically correct, they get a point. You can set a point limit, e.g if a student or a team gets 10 points, they win. If you have other ideas to use the dice, please share them in the comments.
You can make your own dice with this tool:

Monday, 7 October 2013

Indefinite and definite articles

Tomorrow I'm going to teach my 5th graders about articles. It's quite a difficult topic, so I've prepared a little help.

It can be used as a summary. If you have any other ideas, feel free to share them in the comments.
It's my first PowToon, that's why it's so simple and short. 
I was inspired by Karolina and her presentation. Thank you, Karolina.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Scratch is a match for ...

Would you like to learn a language to communicate with your computer? Would you like your children to "speak" that language?
Nowadays, children spend a lot of time using computers and other digital devices, but who exactly is in control? A child or a machine? Most of us would like our children to be a controller. You may ask how to do that. The answer is simple: children should learn another foreign language, a language of programming. Adults should learn it, too. Fortunately, programming is no longer available exclusively to professionals. Everyone can do it. 
Thanks to Samsung Electronics Polska, Centrum Edukacji Obywatelskiej, Ośrodek Edukacji Informatycznej i Zastosowań Komputerów and Stowarzyszenie "Rodzice w Edukacji", 34 schools in Poland can take part in a pilot programme "Mistrzowie Kodowania" (Coding Masters). The idea of the programme is to teach 4th - 6th graders how to code in Scratch. It's a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, so it's child-friendly. Scratch helps children develop 21st Century Skills, such as creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, communication and colaboration. And what is more, every educator can teach Scratch.
Mitch Resnick, one of the developers of Scratch, describes it in this way:

I'm so happy and proud to be a participant in the pilot edition of "Mistrzowie Kodowania" together with my colleague and friend, Marysia. We spent last weekend in Warsaw, learning Scratch. It was an amazing experience. I've discovered new abilities I did't expect to have. I've always loved Maths, but I've chosen to study languages. And now I've found out how to combine both.
As the title of this post says,  
                              Scratch is a match for ... languages.

Here you can see print screens from what I've done in Warsaw: