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.