Vehicle Tally & Graph


This week saw the start of my language centre’s Summer Camp, and with it came a lot of planning, excitement, outdoor games and sweat (thank you Vietnam for your beautiful 100°F+ weather!). My Summer Camp group this year are a group of 17 bright 6-8 year olds, I have taught the majority of them for almost 2 years (right from their ABCs).

On Tuesday we were scheduled to complete a tally chart of the vehicles in the area. To prepare the children I first practiced indoors with a simple interactive activity tallying farm animals on the whiteboard. I then gave the students a practice run of what to expect outside by using this great interactive car tallying exercise. Here the pupils tallied red, blue, green and yellow cars as they flew past in a Powerpoint presentation.

Finally I handed out the vehicle tally and graph worksheet. The younger students filled in the first column with names of colours of cars, whereas the older students chose to include other vehicles, e.g. red motorbikes, green taxis. We then went outside and tallied the passing traffic for 10 minutes (the students had to use the language structure ‘I can see a…’ before drawing a line) and went inside again to present our data on the graph paper in the form of a bar chart.


5 Teacher-Recommended Classroom Management Apps

teacherkit 1. TeacherKit 

TeacherKit enables you to organise classes with classroom layouts and seating plans, as well as track the attendance, grades and behaviour of students. The paid version includes the option to generate reports of the children’s most recent test results, their percentage and grade – this is great to send home to parents.

I also found this app very useful for learning the names of the students, as you can take a photo of them and assign it to student profiles, this is then printed next to the results on student’s reports.

toonoisy 2. Too Noisy

Too Noisy is a great app for larger, rowdier classes. It gives them an opportunity to monitor their own level of noise by displaying a graphic of classroom noise level, if they exceed the chosen noise level for more than 3 seconds an audible alarm is sounded. It may be a good idea to support the use of this app with a reward system for classes that do not set the alarm off.

classdojo 3. ClassDojo

This app can be used for both behaviour management and for randomly selecting students. Each student is assigned a fun monster avatar and can be given positive or negative points depending on their behaviour. Similar to TeacherKit, ClassDojo also has the option of generating reports. Some teachers support this app with a reward system e.g. a cheap prize at the end of every 2 weeks to the student with the highest points.

scorekeeper 4. ScoreKeeper XL

ScoreKeeper is a simple app but great for keeping score in team games. Although my classes enjoy being awarded team points, it can waste classroom time (and board space) logging the points on the whiteboard. This app is bright and colourful, easy to use and a great visual aid for students to see whose team is winning.

stickpick 5. Stick Pick

Sometimes students can misbehave while waiting their turn during an activity, either they do not feel they are being picked enough (cue shouts of ‘me, me, me!) or if you choose to ask students to questions in the order they are sat, those that have answered already, or are not answering for a while, tend to lose focus. This app resolves these problems by randomly generating a lollipop stick with one of your students’ names on. Nobody knows who is going to be called next so everybody pays attention and they cannot complain that it is unfair as it is entirely random (although you can choose to put the stick back in the pot of leave it out). There are further options that allow you to input if the student answered correctly and even the option to test questions from Bloom’s taxonomy.


6 fun outdoor ESL / EFL Activities


1. Object bingo Materials: Paper with 3×3 grids, pencils

Before leaving the classroom, ask the students to brainstorm what objects they may see outside (e.g. trees, cars, butterflies etc), write all of the suggestions up on the board until the children have exhausted their existing vocabulary. If students are struggling, prompt them with drawings and actions or preteach some new vocabulary. Once the board is brimming with lots of outdoor vocabulary, hand out one 3×3 grid per student. Ask the class to individually chose 9 words from the board, write one word into each grid space and if there is enough room draw a picture. When all the students have completed their grid it is time to go for a walk. Students check off the items as they see them and the winner is the first person to get 3 in a row (shout ‘LINE!’) or all 9 squares (shout ‘HOUSE!).

2. Shopping and budgeting Materials: Shopping list and some pocket money

Give students a list of items to buy from the shop, they must remain within a budget. To make this more interesting (especially if the children are of a higher level), make it more challenging by listing descriptions of objects, e.g. rather than ‘apple’, say ‘a green circular fruit’, students can be assigned time beforehand to list all the possibilities and decide amongst themselves what they think would be the cheapest to buy. When students have finished the shopping, compare the receipts and award the team that managed to buy the most items whilst remaining within the budget.

3. Vehicle tally Materials: Clipboard and pencil

Before leaving the classroom, create a tally graph. In the first column draw pictures of vehicles. It can be simple (such as red cars, yellow cars) or it can be more challenging by using descriptions e.g. something slow, something with more than 4 wheels. Children sit in a safe spot away from the road and tally the amount of each vehicle they see going past. When they are back in the classroom they can answer questions like ‘what colour car did you see the most?’ and even create graphs out of the data they have collected.

4. Guided tour role play Materials: Flashcards

This activity require students to get into pairs, with one student as a tourist and the other as a tour guide. Before ‘departing for the tour’ preteach some useful vocabulary and prompts (e.g. On the left/right we can see…). Ask the class what questions a tourist might ask so that they can prepare their answers. It may help to prepare cue cards for the students as prompts, half way through the lesson the tour guide and tourist should swap roles.

5. Outdoor alphabet Materials: Paper and pencil

Divide the class into pairs, ask them to write the alphabet down a side of paper. Explain that when you go for a walk the students must try to find a word for each letter of the alphabet e.g. l = leaf, c = car. When you go back to class, write the letters up on the board and ask students to call things they saw. Ask students to explain or draw the words, then drill and pronounce them correctly.

6. Scavenger hunt

Divide the class into teams, give each team a list of items they must hunt for. Students must find the things and take photos as proof, e.g. different kinds of buildings, colours, types of food, something you don’t know the word for, people e.g. security guard, policeman, shopkeeper, waitress.

The 12 Best Outdoor ESL/EFL Games


Outdoor games are a great way to motivate your students. Bring out your students fun or competitive spirits with relays, skipping rope and ball games.

Here is a list of 10 tried and tested games I have used for my language centre’s Summer Camp. Some of them are traditional playground games and others have been tweaked to involved more use of the English language.

1. Marco Polo Materials: Blindfold

One student volunteers to be blindfolded, the other students have 10 seconds to run away and hide, the blindfold is then removed and the game begins. Once the game begins, the other students must freeze. When you shout the trigger question (this can be anything from ‘What’s your name?’ to ‘How are you?’), other students must shout their response. This gives the hiding places away so that the students can be caught. The last student to be caught is the winner.

2. Hopscotch Materials: Chalk

Draw a hopscotch grid on the floor with chalk. As children jump, they have to count, say days of the week, months of the year, colours etc.

3. Skipping rope Materials: Long skipping rope

Play with this rhyme… ‘Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring, when it’s your birthday please jump in… January, February, March etc. students try to join in with skipping when it is their birthday month

4. Freeze tag Materials: Nothing

When a student is caught by the chaser they have to freeze, the only way they can run again is if they shout a question. One of the free students then runs over, holds their hand on them and says the answer, then the student replies ‘thank you’. The chaser wins if all students are frozen.

5. What’s the time Mr Wolf? Materials: Nothing

Assemble the kids in a line against the wall, nominate Mr Wolf and ask them to stand at one end of the play area. Mr Wolf turns his/her back so he cannot see the other children. The other children chant, ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’, Mr Wolf responds with a time (1 o’clock, 2 o’clock etc). The other children advance the number of steps called out and then repeat the chant until eventually they are standing very close to Mr Wolf. Once one of the children is close, Mr Wolf can respond to their chant with ‘DINNER TIME!’ rather than a real time. This is the cue for lots of screaming as Mr Wolf chases the other children in an attempt to catch one of them. The child that is caught is the next Mr Wolf.

6. Duck, duck, goose Materials: Nothing

Gather the children. Sit the children in a circle. Choose one child to walk around the circle. As they walk around the circle they should tap each child’s head (or shoulder, depending on culture), whilst saying duck. The Goose must get up and chase the Duck around the circle. The Duck has to try and run around circle and sit in Goose’s spot. If the Duck gets the Goose’s spot, then the Goose becomes the Duck. If the Duck fails to get the spot first but is caught by the Goose and tagged, the Duck must be the Duck again.

7. Rainbow tag Materials: Nothing

Line up all but one (the chaser) of the students against a wall. Go along and assign each one of them a colour of the rainbow – red, yellow, pink, green, orange, purple and blue. When the chaser (who stands in the middle between the wall and where the other children need to run to) calls out a colour, those children that were assigned that colour have to run to the other side without being caught. If the chaser shouts rainbow, all students run to the other side. This can be varied by playing ‘fruit salad’, instead of colours, assign fruits… apples, bananas, strawberries, cherries, oranges, grapes etc. Keep going until all the students are caught. The last student caught is the new chaser.

8. Cats in the corner Materials: Chalk and a soft ball 

Mark off a square play area using chalk. The ball thrower is at the centre of the square. There are safe zones at each of the corners where the players who are Cats will be. When the thrower shouts out ‘Cats in the corner!’ the Cats have to run from one corner to another without getting hit by the ball. They can go any direction including diagonally as long as they do not get hit. Any player hit by the ball is out. If you have a large group use several balls and a couple of throwers (also use students as fetchers).

9. Football run Materials: A ball and 4 cones for each team (ball and 4 cones for each team)

Space the cones evenly apart. If you don’t have cones make them out of construction paper. Have the 1st person on each team carry a football while running in and out of the cones, and then back to the starting line. When they return to the beginning, they pass the football to the next player, do 10 jumping jacks then the next player can go. First team to finish wins. You can turn this into a language game by making the students answer 3 questions (instead of jumping jacks) before the next player goes.

10. One knee Materials: A ball

Throw the ball to each other, if a student misses they must then go on one knee until the catch the ball again. If the continue to miss they must go to two knees, two knees and one elbow, two knees and two elbows, then they are out.

11. Mother May I Materials: Nothing

Begin by designating a ‘mother’. This person will change at the beginning of each new game. The Mother stands by him or herself at one end, and all the other players (“children”) stand shoulder-to-shoulder a desired length away (usually 10-20 feet) facing the Mother. However far away the children are, the Mother must be able to hear them. The game begins by the first child asking the Mother if they can take a certain amount of a specific type of step. Some popular steps are Baby Steps, Scissor Steps, Giant Steps, Jumping Jack Steps, Karate Steps, or Jump Steps. The Mother then replies with “Yes, you may,” or, “No, you may not.” Whether the Mother replies yes or no is completely up to the Mother’s whim. However, the Mother must be impartial, or the game isn’t fun for everyone. The rest of the children each asks for steps on their turn, and once all have asked, play returns to the first child and continues until a child had reached the Mother. The first child to reach the Mother wins! This child also becomes the Mother for the next game.

12. Red letter Materials: Nothing

Choose one person in your group to be the ‘letter-picker’ – this person chooses the letters, as their title suggests. The letter-picker is posted at the far end of the designated play area. The others gather in a horizontal line at the opposite end. The letter-picker picks one letter of the alphabet to be the Red Letter, telling the other participants what it is. The point of the Red Letter will become clear as the game gets underway. After making sure that the other participants are ready, the ‘letter-picker’ calls out a letter of the alphabet. This can be any letter, including the Red Letter. If the letter is not the Red Letter, the participants (not the letter-picker) take x number of paces forward, depending on the number of that letter in their full name. If the letter called out was ‘E’, and the person had four ‘E’s in their name, the person would take four paces forward. On the other hand, if the Red Letter chosen was ‘E’, and a person starts to move forward, they have to return to the beginning. Therefore, the objective is to get to the same end as the letter-picker first, and to remember not to move on when the Red Letter is called. The first person to get to the same end as the letter-picker gets the prize that is available (usually bragging rights) and the honour of being the letter-picker in the next game.

Please comment if you feel I have missed any games out! Thank you for reading. 🙂

4 ways to develop as an English Language Teacher


In order to progress as an English Language Teacher it is important to take control of your own Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The British Council has a great handbook that goes into more detail of what CPD is, why it is important and the different types of activity you can do to further your development as a teacher. Below is a list of the things from the handbook that I have taken on board.

1. Network with other teachers

Linkedin has a great community of EFL teachers, one of the groups I find has a lot of useful discussions and debates is the ‘British Council Teaching Opportunities’ group. Here you can gain valuable advice from experienced teachers on topics such as ‘how to start a lesson with a new class’ or ‘how to motivate shy students’.

2. Start to develop (and sell) your own materials

By learning how to use Adobe software such as Illustrator, I have been able to create and personalize worksheets for my classes. Something simple such as including the children’s favourite cartoon characters or the children’s names in the text can make a big difference in their motivation to learn. There are also sites around that allow you to upload your materials and sell them to other teachers such as Teachers Pay Teachers. My store  on average makes about $10 a month which I can use towards buying other teacher’s resources. Every little helps!

3. Visit Publisher’s websites

The UK publisher’s Oxford and Cambridge University Press have some great materials on their websites, particularly CUP and their DELTA young learner series. There are lesson plans to help practice; speaking, listening, reading and writing skills; as well as practice tests for Super Starters, Fantastic Flyers and Mighty Movers.

4. Watch and implement ideas from Webinars

These are a great way to stimulate your everyday teaching with new classroom ideas and reflection on practice. They are usually held by specialists in ELT teaching with years of experience and ideas for you to implement. A noteworthy conference is the Macmillan Online Conference 2013. Although the conference has been and gone, there are recordings from the eighteen talks available to watch. I keep a spreadsheet of webinars I have watched that includes columns for the title, a short description of the talk, the most important things I have learnt and what action I intend to take.

These few things have really helped me to focus on what type of teacher I want to be and understand how to get to that point. I find the webinars especially useful as a pick-me-up if a lesson has not gone to plan or I’m struggling to motivate the students, hopefully you will too!