Shapes combined in literacy, language, rhythm, art and mathematics


All of you, who have been to my seminars or IATEFL workshops, you've seen me present the gamyfied 'brain-gym' activities through which the shapes can be introduced, so you know well, what the game's about. For those who haven't attended either, a short explanation: it is a combination of rhythmical clapping in action while simultaneously adding/speaking targeted words for shapes. Combined together, it ends up in forming shapes. The original idea is Tom Mayer's, I only tailored it a bit (and added some new shapes).

1st grade

In action, it looks something like you can see it framed in the picture ...

Literacy and language

Once the shapes are introduced, it's a good idea to incorporate them into storytelling. The shape of a star and circle, for example, can be very effectively used in a story 'When the Moon Smiled', by Petr Horaček.

There, of course, are other topics covered in the story that can be easily cross-curricularly focused (like 'On the Farm', 'Nature', Movements etc.)

Regarding the language, apart from the topic vocabulary, the story offers an ideal opening to introducing plural (regular and irregular) and collocation 'there is/are'. We can practice both features in the 3-beat rhythmical game. (There-are-geese./There-is-a pig.)

Art and literacy

 The doodle 'On the Farm'

We have made a smooth transition from the shapes to the farm. Let's stick to 'The Farm' a while longer.

There are many things you can do with the doodle in order to finish it and make it individual: 
  • colour by dictation, colour on your own (using whatever you consider appropriate)
  • draw, stick, fingerprint ... animals
  • Write the names of the animals using the CoolHouses : a pig/There's a pig,  cows/There are cows etc. (practicing spelling)
  • There is a duck in the pond etc. (practicing prepositions)
  • There are two pink/big/dirty pigs etc. (practicing adjectives)
  • The pigs are eating. etc (actions)

Shapes, art and mathematics (by Mateja Tušek)

My shapeman: 

Form several groups of 3 or 4 pupils. Each group gets: a large rectangle-shaped paper, 4 smaller rectangles, some circles, ovals, triangles of different sizes/colours etc.

The task: each group makes a human-like creature using all of the shapes they’ve been given.
Once the pupils have completed their task, they describe their 'shapeman' by using the target vocabulary (body parts, the shapes, the sizes, the colours ...) 

Photo: Mateja Tušek
Photo: Mateja Tušek

Making a speaking practice in cooperative manner

Once the children have completed their shapeman, they form the text together (orally by using a written gap-filling-like template). All of the children in each group need to know how to describe their shapeman, and they help each other with the oral practice. They are given a limited period of time and when the time's up, the teacher names one child in each group to describe their shapeman. If successful, the group gets the pre-determined reward. If not, the group doesn't get anything. It is children's job to make sure everyone within each group knows how to describe their shapeman. There can be a special reward if all of the groups complete their tasks successfully.


"What's your name?" and the like

This type of a game is used for encouraging childrens' speaking, using the vocabulary from the already covered topics and putting it in a new situation. It can be played in many variations. I start with the game "What's your name?" and am gradually tailoring it in ways to meet regular needs.

The gist of the game

The basic idea of the game is a dialogue between one child on the one side and the group of children on the other. The game demands empty classroom, gym or open space. 

To play the game

One child stands on the one side of the room. He/she is the one who gives the answers and is therefore facing the group of children who are lined up one next to one another on the other side of the room. Then the dialogue begins:

The group of children: "What's your name?"
The child (let's say Frank): I'm Jack.
The group of children: 
  • No! (and every child makes one step forward)
  • Once they do that, they say: "Thank you!"
  • And add "What's your name?"

The dialogue continues until the child gives his/her real name. Then, he/she runs towards the group of children and tries to catch one. 

The actual act of catching can be played in two different versions:
  • children run to the 'safe side of the line' on their end of the room (the line is pre-arranged). If the child doesn't manage to catch anyone and all of the children escape behind the safe line, he/she repeats his/her part.
  • children run away randomly and the catching is continues until one child is caught. The caught one then takes the role of answering the question.


There are many questions that can be answered in the game, either each one separately or in sets of questions, depending on the children's level of knowledge. 


  • What's your family name?
  • What's your mother's/father's ... name?
  • How old are you?
  • Where do you live? / Where do you come from?
  • How's the weather? (The song!)
  • What's the weather like today?
  • What's for dinner/supper/lunch today? (A pre-chosen type of food for the answer.)
  • What do you eat Mr/Miss Caterpillar? (A pre-chosen type of food for the answer.)
  • What do you eat Mr/Miss Wolf/Fox? (A pre-chosen animal for the answer.)
  • and whatnot ...

Practicing plural and numbers:

  • QUESTION: Mum/Dad, what's the time please?

The child who answeres, holds the cards of some animals (the number depends on the child's level of knowledge). Each animal is selected by the way they move. The movements have to be defined, for instance:

a bear - big steps; a mouse - small steps (baby steps); a kangaroo - jumps/hops; a caterpillar - crawls; a hippo - rolls; a snake - slithers; a bird/butterfly/insect - flies; and whatnot ...

The child answers according to his wish, stating: (1) the number of movements, (2) the type of movement, (3) the direction of movement.

  • THE POSSIBLE ANSWERS: three bird flies forward, one bear step backward, five hippo rolls forward etc.
  • The group of children needs to say 'Thank you', or else they have to go back to their starting position.

Material needed

  • free space
  • CoolTool (Mum, what's the time please; What do you eat ... Weather)


Getting to know each other

No matter the curriculum aims, the teacher simply cannot do the programme without knowing his/her kids first. I therefore believe teacher's first aim when having a new class is 'Getting to know each other'. This year, I tried a new game. It worked perfectly.

To play the game

Gather the kids in a circle and sit down. At the beginning, it is the teacher who has no space for her/himself in the circle.

The teacher is walking around the circle and chanting 'walking, walking...' while observing the kids. At one point she/he chooses one child and calls out his/her name. The child stands up and the teacher calls to him/her: RUN! 

The child runs after the teacher and the teacher runs towards the emptied spot that was left behind in the circle. When the teacher reaches the empty spot, she/he occupies it. It is the child who is without the seat now, so he/she starts walking around the circle (optional: chanting walking, walking...). At one point the child calls out another name, the teacher encourages both children by saying 'RUN BOTH OF YOU!' .... and the game continues.

The rules

  • All the players run in the same direction.
  • The aim is to occupy the empty space ASAP. The one who remains without a seat continues the game. 


  • 'Walking' can be changed for any other movement and can even change during the same game.
  • Children can have flashcards of the words they need to memorise. Instead of calling out the name, they call the objects. The flashcards do not move their positons, only children do! 
  • And mind the articles! If the child calls out 'apple' instead of 'an apple', the child with the object 'an apple' does not stand up and keeps his/her seat.
  • Also, if the child does not recognise his/her object and the one calling it gets to him/her before the child stand up, the one with the object loses his/her seat and continues the game.
  • Levels of the game:
    • L1 - flashcards type A - with the word and the picture.
Type A
    • L2 - flashcards type B - with the picture facing upwards. The word (the back of the card) can be looked at (if needed).

    • L3 - flashcards type C - picture only.

    • L4 - flashcards type C - a word only.
Type C - the picture
Type C - the word

Material used


Welcome to the very serious games for children

Today, there are just opening lines. Namely, the answers to why, who, what, how, when and with what.


I've been running seminars on YFLL for some time. Presenting the basics of the approach on how a young soul should experience a new language and in which I believe  immensly, lelft me with millions of unaddressed questions. I am writing a teacher's guide. It's still in progress, but a slow one. Since writing is a time consuming job and some ideas would like to be spread out sooner rather than later, why not sharing some ideas net-wide?


Everyone who is willing to participate, share, and give constructive comments. Preferably in English. My intention is to spread the blog EU wide, starting next week at the IATEFL PL Conference. 


Gamified activities related to lessons which are child-oriented and have curriculum aims covered.

How #1?

This is the way I picture it: 

The idea of how to approach one curriculum goal through a gamified activity is described.  

Once the idea is posted, I would like you to join by adding your comments: give your feedback as to how the lesson went with your children, what you did differently and how would you design a follow-up, ask questins about the material used and how to recognise quality material ...

Actually, you're free to ask any question, as long as it is related to the topic described. Our goal is to learn together.

This way one idea will multiply and stir our imagination to eternity.

If you want to follow the comments and posts, you should submit your e-mail address.

How #2?

We will stick to the approach I present at the seminar 'Playing Games Is a Serious Business!' 

The activity will be wrapped in a lesson frame that works briliantly with the children. However, I will not give you a lesson plan, but merely outline the activity's coherent context in which a young soul can comprehend a sense. 

The activity will start with the curricular aim as its guideline.


At the beginning of October.

With what?

The material used will focus on:
    Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson
  • authentic picture books to provide the context and grounds for the curriculum related topics,

  • authentic You-tube recordings (songs, cartoons that are originally ment for native speakers),

  • our own C00lSch00l teaching aids (for enabling pre-reading and pre-writing skills as well as communication and memorising): 
They are:

  • and one more thing: only original material is welcome. We respect intelectual property and the work the authors have put into it. 

Anything forgotten?

Probably. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.