Updated: Feb 12, 2022
Today I'd like to show you something I made a couple of years ago to practise prepositions of place with young learners. I wanted to have something the kids could manipulate. And as always, I wanted them to work on their own, without me helping them throughout the activity. This is how the coloured block came to be! 😃
I bought plain wooden blocks online. It took me a bit of time to figure out how to colour them. Then, one day . . . I was doing my nails 😄 I used old nail varnish which I had collected over the years.
How to work with them? The blocks are accompanied by a set of cards which I designed. On one side of the card, there's a short text describing the way the blocks are supposed to be arranged. On the other side there's a picture in two versions. The two versions are necessary because the blocks can be arranged from any side. I didn't add "on the left" or "on the right" to the descriptions to isolate the difficulty to two things only: colour names and prepositions. This is what the cards and the blocks look like:
Each card has a Penal sticker on the text side to make it possible for the kids to work with them even before they start reading in English. A student reads or listens to the description and arranges the blocks. They then turn the card over for error control: they check whether their blocks look like the ones in the picture.
The follow up activity from this task was kids making their own cards with pictures, descriptions, and recordings. We laminated those and added them to the set. Material making is very much a part of autonomous learning which, as you can see, even the youngest of learners can achieve. As stated in Language Learner Autonomy: Theory, Practise and Research by David Little, Leni Dam and Lienhard Legenhausen:
... at least as much learning takes place when producing the materials as when using them individually or with other learners.
The kids were delighted 😊
The process of making the cards took ages. I had to create the files with the pictures in two versions and write a description for each of them. Then came printing, laminating, cutting. Once the cards were cut I had to stick them together (picture and text) using double sided tape and transparent sticky tape on the edges. It was a lot of work, but the cards were made three years ago and they still look as good as they did on the first day 😊
EDIT: it's been now 7 years and they're still fine! Bit dirty on the edges, but absolutely fine to use.
I'm not attaching the files because I lost them when my computer crashed 😣 But don't worry, I'm planning to remake them one day 😉
EDIT: I did it!! 🥳 The cards are ready for you and available in the Monteshop. I made them easy to print: just set your printer to print double-sided and the description should come out exactly in the middle of the picture card. I suggest printing on card so that the cards are not see-through. Then simply laminate and cut.
There is a blank card template for the kids to make their own cards, too.
I added pictures of the blocks as a flat picture option. If you don't have wooden blocks handy, you can print these out and laminate for kids to arrange. I do suggest investing in actual coloured wooden blocks, though, because they do make this activity so much better 😊 You may purchase the blocks in Monteshop here. They come together with cards already laminated and cut for you start using immediately 🥳 And they're painted with acrylic paint, not nail varnish 😅
Sadly, the cards don't have the listening option. But if you're willing to wait, I might have PENpals available for you in the shop quite soon. This way you'll be able to record your own sound onto the cards or get ready-made mp3 recordings!! Even better: you can have your students record them 😃 PENpals are coming!!!
EDIT: PENpals are now available in the Monteshop!! Once you buy yours, you'll get a livelong access to the Montenglish Recording Library: a growing source of audio files to add to your materials.