So how do I engage them? How do I make my lesson stick?
Well, the answer is, I am still learning each day what works and what does not work. But, this week I made my first break-through. I use silliness, and I use monkeys! The silliness come in forms such as...
Inviting students to the front of the room, one boy and one girl, I give each a boy and girl sign, then I point to one after the other while the other students call out "boy, girl, boy girl". I go slow at first and then speed up until everyone is giggling as the words start blending together. The next pair I invite to participate get the opposite signs. The girl student gets the boy sign and the boy student gets the girl sign. The class immediately starts to laugh and I say, "Is this right?" ...and they yell NO!" and I switch the signs and do the same pointing trick. Viola....they know boy vs. girl! I use the same tactic for His vs. Her.
For my Face lesson, in which I am also supposed to teach counting as well, i first go over the Eye, ear, nose, mouth flashcards. Then I again invite students to the front. I vary the number of students each time. I ask the other students to tell me how many noses....they stare at me with blank faces. Some of the smarter ones say "one nose!" because duh teacher, we all have one nose. I say, "Very good! But how many noses as I point to the students up front, then I count as I lightly touch each volunteers nose, making a beeping sound as I go. The students go wild and now they are ready to go when I say, how many ears? I end this lesson with the Head Shoulders Knees and Toes song, which the kids get a kick out of, especially when I go faster and faster.
Another face game is to make faces at the kids. They love going through happy, grumpy, scary and silly faces. I also do bunny ears and monkey faces.
And Finally we come to the monkeys. These kids just love monkeys. They cannot get enough monkeys. So to make sure they know their numbers forward and back I use...Monkey's on a bed. It required quite a bit of crafting on my end (see pictures below), but the end result was fantastic and the kids are obsessed. I started with 10 monkeys on a board and then take some away and ask the students to count how many. I also add monkeys back, which they find hysterical. I sing the song and make them count down from six or 10. When I take a monkey down I bump my head with it and they break out into gleeful screams. Then I make them count as they add them back. If they can tell me the right number I let one of them add the monkey back. When we get back to 10 they all cheer.
I know this sounds like all fun and games, but I call it progress! It's actually hard work always coming up with new ideas. I have to say thought, I do enjoy watching them have fun, and also learning something in the process.