Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Activity 23- What is Bernardo Doing?

Here is an idea for a class project young learners will definitely love! It requires the parents` participation and might take up to a month, so plan it carefully before you carry it out. 

Level: beginning
Language skills: speaking, writing
Grammar Topic: Present Continuous

Device needed: any device with a camera
Number of devices needed:  one per student 
Internet connection: off

Bring a stuffed animal to class and explain he/she will be part of a very special class project.
Bernardo is the stuffed bat I own which was used in this activity. Reinforce the idea that their commitment and engagement will be essential to the successful completion of the task and that you believe they will be able to carry it out responsibly. Then, explain that each day a student will be chosen to take the stuffed animal home and take some pictures of him/her doing different things (ex: sleeping, watching tv, doing karate, having dinner, playing video games, etc...). Remind them that there is no limit to their creativity and that they are going to choose how they want their pictures to look like. Then, explain that their parents should send the pictures to the teacher`s e-mail address and that they will be used in a class activity after everyone has completed the task. Then, after you have collected all the pictures, show them to students and elicit sentences in the Present Continuous ("What is Bernardo doing?"). This can be done orally or you can ask them to write the sentences in their notebooks. 

-Contact parents beforehand and explain the purpose of the activity and how they should help.
-Show students a few examples of how their pictures should look like. It`s always a good idea to model it before!
-Ask them to keep their photo shoots a secret. In class, comment you are getting very creative and sometimes funny pictures. This will boost their excitement and interest in the project!
- You don`t need to use all pictures you get, but make sure you use at least one from each student.
- If you have a very large group, you might consider using more than one stuffed animal  to make it more dynamic.

- Have them write sentences instead of just saying them out loud.
-Have students ask each other Yes/No Questions (ex: Is Bernardo skateboarding?)
-Save the pictures to practice other verb tenses they already know or might learn in a future lesson (ex: using the Simple Present to describe Bernardo`s daily routine or using the Simple Past to describe what Bernardo did yesterday).

I tried this activity with a group of mine and here is what I concluded:
-They absolutely loved the idea of taking the teacher`s stuffed animal home. They were always excited to know who the next one to work on the task would be and they reported they loved spending one or two days taking care of Bernardo as if he were their little brother. 
-Students improved rapport among themselves and got to know a bit more about their classmates since many pictures, in a way, revealed their personal tastes and habits (Ex: some students took a picture of Bernardo playing their favorite sport or eating their favorite food).
-Parents responded very positively and enjoyed helping and being engaged in their kid`s school project.
-They developed a sense of ownership and active participation because they were entirely responsible for all the material produced and used. 
-Students had a chance to practice and learn new and more meaningful vocabulary.
_Students reported it as being a very "cool" and different "homework" and that they would love to work on another similar project.

So, how about trying this project with your own group of young learners? Everyone, including you, will have a blast!

Source: Vinicius Lemos


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for the positive feedback Patricia! =)

  2. Yesterday my Teens 2 students presented their projects. It was a little different, without the stuffed cat (which I found really cute!). They made short movies while narrating their relatives' and friends' actions. It was great! They got really involved! =D

    1. Ju, thanks for the post. I am sure your students loved your activity! Thanks for sharing!