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Games and Activities for Preschool ESL Classrooms

By Vandana Singhal

If you want to teach ESL to preschoolers, it is very important to have a good and interesting ESL preschool lesson plan. This lesson plan should not only be informative, but also entertaining to hold the attention of toddlers.

Preschoolers have a very short attention span and you will start floundering without a good ESL lesson plan for your class. Your ESL preschool lesson plans should be designed to capture all the capabilities of those toddlers.

According to research by Dr. Howard Gardner, each child has multiple intelligences. Therefore, to teach ESL to all the children in your preschool class, you need to apply different teaching methods. These intelligences include linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, musical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, spatial intelligence, interpersonal intelligence and intrapersonal intelligence. You can create ESL preschool lesson plans that include different games and activities to make use of different types of intelligences.

Unlike one for a class filled with native English speaking preschoolers, an ESL lesson plan for preschoolers should focus strongly on building vocabulary. Furthermore, there should be a good mix of new material and repetition.

Hello Song or School Song

Start with a cute greeting song. When you start your class with this song, it will signal the children that class is beginning, putting them in the right mindset. You can use a CD or sing yourself. Use a very simple and small song to start with. This session can invoke musical, linguistic and interpersonal intelligence of the children.

Small Conversation

Begin with a brief conversation session. This session is to help them practice their English-speaking and listening abilities. Here you can tap into linguistic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and logical intelligence. You can include brief questions and answers, such as, “How are you?” or “What’s your name?” or “How old are you?” Try to focus on a single question every day for a few days continuously. Initially, you may need to prompt children to answer the question. Over time, they will begin to answer quickly.

A Few Daily Repetitions

There are a few simple things that should be addressed daily to make the class informative and interesting. These items may include counting up to 10, singing the ABC song, discussing the weather, naming days of the week and a few specific letters and the sounds they make. For instance, you can discuss different types of weather or have a brief mention about the day's weather. This is a multi-level activity session where you can make use of several intelligences such as linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial and intrapersonal intelligences.

Working With Vocabulary

As vocabulary is very important part of preschool ESL class, you need to work on it with a strong focus. Here you can tap linguistic intelligence, bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence and spatial intelligence.

  • Basic: You can perform quick activities to introduce and review the things such as colors, shapes, numbers, ABC, feelings and counting. However, only one topic should be taken each day.
  • Advanced: Advanced vocabulary includes slightly harder words such as animals, vehicles, food items, kitchen items, furniture and other everyday objects.

Finish the Class With Singing and Dancing

Preschoolers cannot grasp concepts the way grownups do. You need to make their class entertaining, also. Finish your ESL class with singing and dancing sessions. Select five or six songs for each month. This session again gives you the opportunity to tap musical, intrapersonal, linguistic intelligences.

Though the basic structure of the daily ESL preschool lesson plan remains the same, you can always change the content to avoid boredom in the children as well as introducing new information.