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Monday, June 20, 2011

Wrong Trousers Day

School ends tomorrow. By this I mean that "real" school ends but we, in the language school, still have another ten days to go. Tomorrow will be the last day for many of our younger students, but others will come on Wednesday or Thursday, and a few (poor kids!) will be made to come next week. For these last few lessons something special is required - games, a video, an ice-cream, is common for the very last day of the year, but what happens when there are two or three lessons to go? Well, in my inbox this morning there was a nice surprise from The Guardian Teacher Network - Wrong Trouser Day!

Apparently, Friday 24th June is Wrong Trouser Day. People will dress in a pair of unusual trousers and go about their normal routine. Each participant pays one pound and the benefits go to children's hospitals and hospices around the UK. Organised by the Wallace and Gromit's Children's Foundation, you can find a promotional video on their website which is great for classroom use.

The Guardian Teacher Network has lots of resources for different areas of the curriculum but most are suitable for primary or early secondary learners of English. You will find the most useful links here, in my Delicious bookmarks. Activities include a reading comprehension about the fund raising event, drawing and design tasks, and thinking about how to describe trousers using adjectives. On the Guardian Teacher Network you can find more activities related to numeracy and literacy. You need to be registered to download the worksheets, but I recommend doing so as there are hundreds of useful resources on the site and you will be sent a regular newsletter summarising new or timely content.

I will be using some of these ideas with nine to eleven year old learners, but you could use or adapt them for younger children.

See who is wearing trousers in the class (here shorts are more likely due to the sweltering weather we are having) and describe them. For example, say: "This person is wearing long grey trousers. They are part of a school uniform." or "This person is wearing white short trousers". The others have to guess who you are describing. 

Play the video shown on the Wallace and Gromit Foundation website. Ask the children what people they have seen. This is a good opportunity to teach or revise some professions. What was strange about these people? Were they wearing their own trousers? Whose trousers was each person wearing?

You could use the text as a listening task instead of reading if the children don't feel like reading. In any case, the text and questions will probably need to be modified to suit the level of your students.

Choose one of the students wearing trousers and ask the others to describe them. What colour are they? Are they long or short? What are they made of? Have they got a pattern or picture? Have they got pockets? Are the smart or casual? Write all the adjectives on the board and tell the learners (or elicit, if they have some knowledge of grammar in their own language) that they are adjectives and we use them to describe things. Write some examples of phrases e.g long, black trousers/ short, yellow trousers/ white cotton trousers/ short blue jeans. Now elicit where we put the adjective in English. It may be a good idea to underline the adjectives or use a different colour. Hand out this worksheet and show the students how to complete it.

There are two worksheets you can use for this activity. The first is All Sorts of Trousers where learners think about the different kinds of trousers you can wear for different activities. In the second, they Design a Pair of Trousers for Wallace.The first activity is more suitable for younger, lower level learners.

Watching (film):
Now show the film The Wrong Trousers. There is a special ELT version published by OUP and divided into six parts.

I plan to do these activities over the next two classes.

If you are brave enough, you may wish to go into school that day actually wearing the "wrong trousers" yourself! Or if it would be too embarrassing on the commuter train, take a pair of trousers in and get changed before the lesson!
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