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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fun at the Fair!

Living in Andalucía, one of the most important weeks of the year (after Holy Week) is approaching: the feria, or fair. In Jerez, where I live, the fair is considered to be far better than the more famous Feria de Abril in Seville and the local ladies spend hundreds on their new frilly flamenco dresses and impossibly high heels, enormous earrings and the like, and the kids are all completely over-excited because they get to go on rollercoasters and dodgems and the ferris wheel.

So the days during the run up to the fair it is impossible to get any work out of the younger students and your typical course book lesson goes out the window. Here are a few activities I do with my youngest learners, to take advantage of their excitement and enthusiasm.

First, I ask them to supply words about the fair. This is usually in L1 since they don't have the vocabulary to do so in English. I write up their suggestions on the board. I then show them some pictures of different fairground attractions (big wheel, carousel, dodgems, roller coaster, ghost train, haunted house) as well as candy floss, horses (in Jerez it is The Horse Fair), girls dressed up in flamenco dresses dancing "sevillanas". I then drill the vocabulary with them, doing different picture activities such as: point and say, what's the missing picture?, run and touch, the "corner" game.

We then walk in a line around the classroom chanting  or singing this little song I made up (to the tune of The Farmer's in the Den):

We're going to the fair
We're going to the fair
 We're going to have lots of fun
 We're going to the fair

I then ask the children what they are going to go on?  "I'm going to go on the big wheel", "I'm going to dance sevillanas" etc.
We then go on to mime the different activities, which they love. We all go on the ghost train together, me at the front and the children all hanging on behind, me going "woooo woooo"; we drive round in dodgems, all bumping into each other; we go on the big wheel, crouching down and standing up tall and looking at all the imaginary tiny people down below; we go into the haunted house, all in darkness, and get frightened by the monsters (me - roaring); we dance sevillanas; we ride horses; and best of all, we go on the rollercoaster, slowly creeping up to the top only to rush down the other side screaming!

After all this excitement, comes a calm down period, where we sit and discuss our favourite parts of the fair. I sometimes get them to draw pictures and label the rides, or tell me the names, if they can not yet read.

With children that have started reading in English, you can make a wordsearch or crossword with some of the vocabulary.
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