When the cold winds are still blowing, warm up your class with some of these fun, language building, February themed activities!
Try These 10 February Themed Language Building Activities
Roses are Red
Do you celebrate St. Valentine’s Day with your students? If you do, writing valentines might be a great way to introduce or reintroduce your students to the idea of rhythm and rhyme. Start by presenting the classic roses are red poem to your students. (Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so are you.) Then demonstrate how you can change the words of the third and fourth lines without changing the rhythm and rhyme. (Roses are red, violets are blue, I know you like me, and I like you, too.) Point out how the number of syllables remains the same and that the final line still rhymes with the second line of the poem. Then challenge your students to write their own modified roses are red poem keeping the same rhythm and rhyme. Students can then copy their poems on to valentines for the rest of the class and hand them out on Feb. 14.
Who Do You Love?
With St. Valentine’s Day comes talk of love. Give your students a few minutes to brainstorm a list of all the people that they love. Then have each student choose one person on his list to introduce to a classmate. Put students in pairs and have them take turns talking about the person who means so much to them. Make sure that as they describe the person, they also share why that person is important to them.
The history of the origin of St. Valentine’s Day is not certain. Some people believe the celebration of love and lovers is based on a love letter that St. Valentine himself wrote. Have students choose someone in their family to receive a “love” letter. In the letter, your students should write about why they love and appreciate the recipient and how much that person means to them.
Food for Birds
The third week in February is homes for birds week, and February 5this National Bird Day. You can celebrate by making simple bird feeders with your class and making the activity work double duty as a speaking exercise. You will need directions for making two different types of bird feeders as well as the materials to make them. (Earth 911 has instructions for seven different bird feeders made from recycled materials here.) Divide your class into pairs. Each pair will make one each of the two bird feeders. Give student A the directions for the first feeder, and student B the materials to make the first feeder. Student A then explains to his partner how to make the bird feeder. Student A may not show the directions to his partner. Both partners should feel free to ask questions and make clarifying statements throughout (although student A should not help build the bird feeder). Then students switch roles with the instructions for second bird feeder. Hang your feeders outside your school or send them home. Have students make note of the different types of birds who come to feed.
Chunky or Smooth?
On February 1, 1933, Skippy peanut butter first went on sale. Peanut butter is a popular lunch item in American kids’ lunchboxes, but not all cultures embrace the spreadable legumes. Bring in some smooth and some chunky peanut butter for your students to sample. (If you have peanut allergies in your class, skip the tasting portion of the lesson.) Let each person sample each on a separate cracker. Have students share with the class which version they prefer and why. Then send students into the public to survey people on the street. Give students a simple script for approaching strangers or have them survey an English speaking class in your school on the question of chunky or smooth. Bring your class back together and have them tally the results. Do most people prefer crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
Tools at the Ready
Daniel Defoe’s classic adventure tale Robinson Crusoe tells the tale of a young man stranded on an island and how he survives life on his own in the wild. The book was based on the adventures of Alexander Selkirk, who was rescued after five years on a deserted island in February 1709. Ask your students what tools they think would be most useful if they were stranded on a deserted island. Start by brainstorming as a class all the possible tools a person can use. This is a great opportunity for vocabulary development, and you might want to allow students use of bilingual dictionaries as they expand the list. Then break students into groups of four or five to decide which five tools they would find indispensable for deserted island survival. Have each group present their decision to the class and explain why they chose each of the tools they did.
How much do your students know about Groundhog’s Day? Have them do some internet research about the famous February 2ndholiday. Then have students write an explanation of the holiday, its purpose, and its traditions intended for people from their home cultures. You might even want your students to design and produce a brochure which would give all the information they think is important.
Where’s My Shadow
With all the hype surrounding the groundhog’s shadow, why not get creative writing about your own shadow? In the classic story of Peter Pan, the boy loses his shadow. If you like, read excerpts of the story to your students or have them read parts of the story on their own. Then have your students come up with creative stories about losing their own shadow. In their stories, they should explain how they lost their shadows, how life was different without their shadows, and how they got their shadows back. Compile the stories into a class book and make it available to read during free reading periods.
The People in Your Neighborhood
In February of 1968, the children’s television show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood first debuted. You can watch full episodes of the program on pbs kids.org. If you teach younger ESL students, watch a segment from the show or watch a full episode. Ask students to share what they learned and how they can apply what they learned to their lives. Follow up by having students design their own children’s television program.
Keep Your Teeth Healthy
February is National Dental Health Month. If you know someone in the dental care field, invite them to your classroom to talk about maintaining good dental health, and give your class some listening comprehension experience at the same time. Some dental offices will come and give presentations along with special activities for children for free, so ask around. After the presentation, have your students write out five rules for maintaining good dental health. You may want to hold a poster design contest for students. Have each person illustrate one of their good dental health rules on a poster. Display them in your classroom and then have the class vote on their favorite.
February may be the shortest month, but you can still pack it full of fun activities for your students.
What are your favorite language building activities to do in February?