During the school year children can move house and change schools for various reasons. When they arrive in a new school it can be hard for them to adapt to their new classmates and for the classmates to accept a new class member. Learning a topic about moving house and changing schools will help your learners to see that it's important to accept new people and that it can be hard but exciting for those who move. 

Age

8-10 years old

Materials

  • Lots of A4 paper
  • Lots of paper clips
  • Photos of houses (optional - laminated)
  • Photos of rooms in a house (optional - laminated)
  • Sketched map of the school photocopied for everyone

Vocabulary

  • School - gym, canteen, toilets, classroom, hall, front door.
  • House - flat, big, small, tall, block of flats, cosy, bedroom, kitchen, sitting room, dining room

Aims

  • To raise awareness of differences and acceptance
  • To integrate new children into the class
  • To introduce vocabulary related to homes and school

Activity 1: Making new friends
It's important that all the children get to mix with everyone in the class so that no-one feels left out. Have a simple greeting game with a twist.

  • Arrange the room so that everyone is sitting in a big circle. You can do this on chairs, on the floor or standing up if it's easier.
  • Number the children. Get them to say their numbers back to you to check that they remember.
  • Shout out two numbers. They have to come to the middle of the circle, shake hands, say their names and one piece of information about themselves.
  • You decide before they start what this is. It could be their favourite colour, their favourite animal, their age, the name of someone in their family. It needs to be something simple that the other person can try to remember.
  • Then the two people sit down in their original seats.
  • You continue until you have shouted out all the numbers.
  • Then you shout out one number and that child should stand up. Their original partner needs to say what their name is (although the majority will know this will still be useful for any new child you may have in the class).
  • Then someone else has to remember the other piece of information that had been given. This will keep the rest of the class interested and will help them all work on their listening and memory skills.

Activity 2: Discovering a new school
It can be daunting for a child to be in a new school as everything seems larger and more complicated than it really is. Through this activity you can familiarise them with the different places in the school.

  • Draw a simplified map of the school with the canteen, gym, toilets, hall, front door, playground and classrooms. Try and make it actually resemble the layout of the school although it doesn't have to be exact.
  • Photocopy it so that everyone in the class has a copy.
  • Through mime you can elicit any words they know and they can label their pictures. Canteen - pretend to eat, gym - pretend to run, toilets - pretend to wash your hands...
  • Then they all mark a cross in pencil on their maps. They decide where.
  • In pairs they have to guess where their partners cross is, a bit like the game 'battleships'.
  • The language they would use could be A: ‘Where is your cross? In the gym?' B: ‘Yes/no' or they could use more language and describe by saying ‘It's next to the canteen.' A: ‘Is it the blue classroom?'
  • You could map out the school in the gym or classroom if it's big enough and let them do an obstacle course moving around the pretend school being guided by their group or partner.

Activity 3: Describing my house
When a child changes school mid-year they have often changed houses, towns and maybe even countries. If they can describe their new home to the rest of the class it can help them to think of all the positive features of where they now live.

  • You can google for pictures of different types of houses near to where you are teaching to make it relevant for your learners.
  • Post the pictures up around the room before the lesson begins.
  • When they come in you could teach them adjectives to describe houses and flats such as tall, small, large, new, old... and you would ask them to stand next to the house which is like their own.
  • On the board you could collate in a chart how many of them live in a tall block of flats, or in a small house.
  • On the back of these pictures you could have pictures of different rooms - a child's bedroom, the kitchen, the sitting room etc. They turn over the pictures and stick them up the other way round.
  • Then they have to stand next to their favourite room. The language they would need here would be ‘The kitchen is my favourite room because it's big.' You would pre-teach adjectives they need to describe rooms such as big, cosy, bright etc. They would also need to know how to say ‘my bedroom' as opposed to ‘the bedroom'.

Activity 4: Accepting differences
It's not easy for a child to integrate into an existing class with established groups of friends. It's important for all children to understand that we should accept everyone into the class.

  • The storybook Something Else deals with being different and accepting those differences. You could read this story to them over a period of time to develop this subject.
  • Children need to feel supported and helped by their friends. In this online journal from an 8-year-old Italian learning English as a second language, the girl writes, 'I enjoyed it because I felt part of a group with lots of friends. I feel better when they help me. We laughed sometimes and I like it when everyone help people.' Her comments illustrate how being accepted into a group and helped by friends is paramount to a successful learning environment.
  • You could play a game whereby differences are celebrated and give them tasks that they can only succeed through helping each other.
  • A game for differences could be as simple as ‘Please Mr Crocodile!' and for task completion they could play the paper clip tower where they have to build a tower in groups of three using 13 sheets of paper and six paper clips. One person is the leader but can't touch the paper, one person is in charge of putting the paper clips on, and one person is in charge of holding the paper together.
Author: 
Jo Bertrand
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