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The almighty verb 🔴

Updated: Feb 12, 2022

As you may have noticed, recently I've come back to creating (revisiting) the materials for younger students. The Preposition Blocks came first, then the Do You Like game and today it's time for some vocabulary work with the verb.

It's one of my teaching regrets that I haven't incorporated more grammar symbols in my teaching when my kids were in grades 1-3. This post is about how I'd introduce them to the verb if I were to go back in time.

Montessori verb symbol is a red circle. It is supposed to symbolise the Sun because just as the Sun gives life to the Earth, so do verbs give life to sentences. How powerful is that sentence, right?! This is where I'd start, by really emphasising the importance of the verb and its function. During the presentation I'd hold the Montessori wooden 3D symbol or a small red ball.

As I'd talk about the verb, I'd let the kids touch it, hold it, pass it around to really ingrain this image in their heads. I'd also give the kids a round red cushion to sit on during this lesson. If you live in Poland you can find them in Teddy.

After the presentation, I'd play a game with the children in which I would say and show an action of a verb to them, and they'd have to repeat it after me. I'd repeat each verb a couple of times to try and make the children remember the words. I would be doing all of that while standing on a round red rug! Of course, if I had more round reg rugs available in the classroom, I'd make each of the students stand on one as well as they perform the actions.

After the game, I'd let the children move on to learning the verbs by working in pairs. As stated in Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius:

"Many studies show that people learn better when working collaboratively than when working alone. (...) From a Piagetian perspective in particular, interaction is crucial to learning, and the more of it there is, the more one would be expected to learn."

They'd read the verbs out loud from command cards to their partner who would have to show they understand the words by performing the action. The child performing the verb would, of course, use the round red rug. In Montessori teaching, command cards are nothing new or special. As Angeline Stoll Lillard writes:

"Montessori teachers say that the cards seem to increase inspiration for reading among younger children; for all children, they help make clear the parts of speech."

How would I, however, make sure that they're pronouncing the verbs correctly and whether they actually remember what the meaning of each one is? For TEFL purposes I needed something a bit more than just a word or a sentence on each card. So I created new cards for the teachers at my school who work with younger learners.

Each card comes with a red frame and it has the verb written on it. Above the verb, there's a red dot, the Montessori verb symbol. Underneath the word, there's a picture of a boy or a girl performing the action. I did want to use actual photographs, but finding so many photographs in a similar style proved to be quite difficult so I went with drawings, which I've bought on from Clever Cat Creations.

There is a difficulty gradation built into the cards. The cards which I've just described have the L1 translation on the bottom. So the child reading the card knows exactly what action is supposed to be performed by their partner. They see the picture and they can read the L1 word. On top of that, there's a PENpal sticker on each card, so the child can hear the word as well. They do this activity with headphones on, or preferably one earphone in. This way round only the child reading the cards can check the pronunciation of the word, and they have to actually repeat it out loud for their parter to perform the action.

Later on, students move on to using cards without the L1 translation. Here, you can choose whether you want to include the pronunciation recording or not. I'd keep it on the cards at this level. Now, children need to remember the meaning of the verbs just by looking at the pictures provided. And as the case often is with pictures showing verbs, they're not obvious, so the child actually has to remember the meaning. The picture is only a hint, not an answer.

Next come cards with only word on them. No L1, no picture, no pronunciation. The kids have to remember everything on their own.

Of course, each time doing this activity, children take turns reading the verbs and performing the verbs. When they read the cards out loud for their partner, they practise reading and pronunciation, on top of being the error control for the child performing the actions. When they are performing the actions, they have to try and remember what the word they've just heard from their partner means, and then perform it.

My cards are available in the Shop section. They come in colour, as the ones above, and also in black and white if you want to save on ink 😊 There are 35 cards together, some with just verbs, some with phrases.

You can make your own cards, of course, and incorporate many more verbs. I'll try and make more if I find the right pictures, because I need them to be in one style, I'm that kind of crazy 😅

If you've purchased a PENpal from MonteShop, you received the access to the ever growing library of recordings which you can add to your materials. The recordings for the cards are available in the library. And if you don't yet own a PENpal, they are available in the MonteShop 😃 All the tutorials about how to upload recording onto your device are coming your way as well 😉

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