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Examples of Activities We Have Shared with Belizean Teachers
"The best aspects of the workshop were the activities done to enhance learning at a faster rate. I found that the activities were short and sweet and fun-filled. Since teachers in Toledo lack materials and methods for teaching children--especially those who speak a completely different language--this workshop will help in many ways to approach these children."
A volunteer demonstrating a reading activity
-- Workshop Participant
Below are examples of Math, Reading, and Science activities that TFABB has shared with elementary school teachers in the Toledo region of Belize. For Toledo's under-resourced schools, the challenge was always to find activities that:
- Do not require paper, books or electricity
- Are based on reusable supplies that we could bring from the United States or supplies that could be found locally in Belize (e.g., pebbles, dried beans, leaves, water bottles, etc.)
- Add fun and variety to a very rote system (e.g., involve hands-on learning)
"The children will love to play the math games. It is difficult to find math games like these."
-- Workshop Participant
- "Build and Take" is an activity using decks of regular playing cards. Treating the black cards as positive integers and the red cards as negative integers, 2 to 4 children take turns trying to combine 2 or more cards whose sums or differences are zero. The child with the most cards after the whole deck has been used is the winner.
- In "Decimal Dynamo" a group of children uses 4 dice and the chalkboard to practice adding and multiplying decimals. In a round, each child rolls the dice. He or she then forms a two-digit number and a decimal using each of the 4 numbers once (e.g., 46 and 2.5) and then multiplies these 2 numbers. At the end of 6 rounds, each child adds together all of the 6 products. Since the goal of the game is to come up with the smallest total sum, children must use strategies to form numbers that will in turn form the smallest products and sums possible.
- In "Triangles Have Three Sides" children use Cuisenaire rods (c-rods) of different lengths to learn the rules that govern the relationship between the 3 sides of a triangle. C-rods are small plastic or wooden rods of different colors and lengths that represent different numbers. First, children make 10 different triangles. They use the chalkboard to record the lengths of the sides. Looking over the numbers, they then try to devise a rule about the relationship between triangles' sides. Using this rule, they predict the side lengths of 5 more triangles and then use the c-rods to see if they've predicted correctly.
- In "Mastermind" the teacher plays with the whole class using the chalkboard. The teacher picks a several-digit secret number and sets up a table to record the childrens' guesses. In the first column the teacher records each guess, in the next column how many digits in the number guessed match the secret number, and in the third column how many digits in the number guessed are in the correct place. This game reinforces strategic thinking and familiarity with tables.
- In "Move It" two children use a numbered game board, place markers, and 2 dice. Each child rolls the dice and subtracts the numbers. He or she then places a marker on the numbered square matching the difference between the 2 dice. If the opponent's marker is on that square, the child may move it. The first child to use all of his or her markers wins the game. In the absence of place markers, pebbles or beans could be used.
"I am most likely to incorporate the "thesaurus" and "word wall". These just blew my mind. I can see my pupils quickly developing their vocabularies in a fun and less laborious way."
-- Workshop Participant
- The "Word Wall" helps children recognize common words by sight. Each week, the teacher chooses four or five new high-frequency words and prints them in large letters and in alphabetical order on a very large piece of paper. If any of the words has other words with which it is frequently confused, the teacher uses a different color to put the confusing words next to it. Throughout the week, the class uses these words for different activities, such as rhyming, chanting, using them in sentences, etc. As the teacher adds a new piece of "wall paper" to the wall each week, the students' vocabularies and spelling abilities increase. TFABB supplied a large role of bulletin board paper to each participant so they will be able to construct a word wall throughout the year. These walls can be reused in years to come.
- For "Making Words," the workshop participants cut up 3X5 cards to make reusable alphabet sets for their classrooms, one for each child. To prepare for a particular game, the teacher must choose one long word as the goal. The teacher writes all of the letters in the word on the chalkboard but not in the correct order. Then, the children pull these letters out of their own alphabet sets. First, the children form two-letter words using these letters, then three-letter words, and so on. Every time a child forms a word, he or she writes it on the board and the class uses it in a sentence. At the end, the children must figure out the long word using all of the letters on the board. This activity reinforces spelling patterns and phonics.
- In "Concentration," a group of children lays a deck of "word cards" face down. Each card contains a word, and each card also has a matching card. During a turn, each child may pick up two cards. After picking up each card, the child must say the word out loud. If the child finds a match, he or she may keep the two cards. The child with the most matches wins. This game reinforces memory and reading words by sight. The teachers made decks of word cards during the workshop. These decks may be used over and over.
- A group of children can also use decks of word cards to play "Go Fish." As in the popular childhood card game, the students take turns asking their opponents for words that may make matches. The child with the most matches, wins the game. Again, this game reinforces reading common words by site.
- For "Word Square," the teacher draws a large square on the board. Inside the square are smaller boxes, each containing one letter. The teachers asks the children to use the letters to form words--first two-letter word, then three-letter words, then four-letter words, and so on. As the children call out the words, the teacher writes them on the board in the appropriate category.
"I really found the games to be extremely useful. Not only did you share them with us, but we also made some and got to see the kids using them. You gave a lot of ideas of ways in which we can use the games and activities to build the pupils' social skills. I thought that was extremely useful."
-- Workshop Participant
- For "Air and Space," the teacher asks students to bring in three locally available materials--empty water bottles, funnels, and clay from the riverside. After placing the funnels in their water bottles, the students seal the two together by placing the clay around the mouth of the bottle. Then the students try to pour water into the funnel. But the water does not go down into the bottle; it stays in the funnel. In this way, the children learn that there is no room for the water because the air in the bottle is actually taking up all of the space.
- "The Fountain" also uses water bottles and local clay as well as straws and balloons (which are also locally available). The teacher pokes a hole in the side of each water bottle. The students place straws in the holes (angled upwards) and seal the straw and bottle together with clay. The students then pour water into their bottles to a point just above where the straw enters the bottle. Then, they blow up balloons. While still clamping the neck of the balloon to retain the air, they carefully place the edges of the balloon around the mouth of the bottle. When they let go of the balloon after it is attached to the bottle, the water squirts out of the bottle like a fountain. The children learn about air pressure by seeing how the air in the balloon forced the water out of the bottle.
- For "The Blue/Red Exchange," the teacher uses chalk to draw a very large diagram of the heart, lungs, and major veins and arteries of the chest on the concrete floor of the classroom. Following the teacher's directions, the students actually walk through the heart and lungs. They enter through a vein, each carrying a blue balloon (or a crayon or a piece of cloth or paper). When each child arrives at the point in the circulatory system where the oxygen-poor blood receives new oxygen, the teacher takes his or her blue balloon and replaces it with a red balloon. The students then continue on the path, having learned about the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange.
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