Whether March comes in like a lion or a lamb, it will be perfect weather for including these language building activities in your ESL classroom.
Try These 10 March Themed Language Building Activities with Your Students
A Lion or a Lamb
If your students enjoy crafting in the classroom, start the month off with some glue and scissors by making a simple reversible lion and lamb paper plate craft. (You can find directions on several websites including this one.) Give your students directions for the craft verbally if you want to add a listening comprehension dimension to this activity. When finished with both the lion and the lamb, tape the plates back to back and add a string on top so you can hang it and display either side. Then send the crafts home with your students and hang the sample from your classroom doorknob. Talk about the idea that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb or vice versa. Then each day in March, talk about the weather and decide as a class whether it is lamb weather or lion weather. Display the correct side of your doorknob craft after you make your daily decision.
Did you know that March 1 is Pig Day? Celebrate the occasion by reading one of the most famous pig books, Charlotte’s Web. This simple book makes a great read aloud for elementary ESL students. Starting on the first, read a chapter (or shorter selection) each day. After you read, discuss with your students what happened (plot) and what they learned about Wilbur, Charlotte, and the rest (character). If reading aloud isn’t a good match for your students, watch the classic cartoon, stopping at several points to discuss what happened and make predictions about what will happen next. Follow up the activity by having students write the next chapter of the story and illustrate it if appropriate. Display the chapters and their illustrations in your classroom where students can read them during independent study periods.
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss
March 2, 1904, worldwide sensation and children’s author, Dr. Seuss, was born. Celebrate the day with a Dr. Seuss birthday party in your classroom. Borrow several Dr. Seuss books from your library, and put them on display in your classroom. Coolest Family On the Block has great ideas for Dr. Seuss snacks and the books that inspired them which you can include at your party. Challenge your students to a tongue twister reading contest and practice tricky pronunciation at the same time. Choose excerpts from Fox in Sox and Oh Say Can You Say? And see who has the most articulate tongue in the class.
Vegetable or Fruit?
Is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit? On March 3, 1883, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that a tomato is a vegetable in the case of Nix v. Hedden. However, botanists still argue that tomatoes should be classified as a fruit along with cucumbers, peppers, squash, and several other natural foods. As a vocabulary generation activity, have a class brainstorm session. List as many vegetables as possible; then follow with a grand list of fruits. Let students decide which list a particular food belongs to. If you students are able, follow up the activity by reading this article on Buzzle.com about the difference between fruits and vegetables. After your students read the article, ask them if they would like to move any entries from one of your lists to the other. Close out the class with a vote on whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable.
Host a Spelling Bee
In March 1925, the U.S. had its first national spelling bee. Commemorate the event by holding a spelling bee in your classroom. Go back through all the vocabulary you have covered in your ESL class so far this year and put them in random order. (If you keep sets of vocabulary words on index cards, just gather them all and give them a shuffle.) Divide your class into two teams, and have each team stand in a line on opposite sides of the room. Give the first person in line a word to spell. If he spells it correctly, he goes to the end of his team’s line. If he spells it incorrectly, he must sit down and the first person in the other team’s line gets a chance to spell it correctly. Have the teams take turns spelling one word at a time until only one person remains. (They must spell the last word correctly.) Their team wins the bee.
My Favorite Season
March 20this the first day of spring. Ask your students what their favorite season is; then divide your class into four groups depending on their favorite season. Have each group work together to write ten sentences which explain why their season is the best of the year. They should start each sentence with the following. [Our season] is the best because… Use this activity as an opportunity to review writing and punctuating dependent clauses.
It’s Easy Being Green
Green is the color of March. Whether it is celebrating St. Patrick’s day or welcoming the first buds of spring, green is everywhere in March. With your class, brainstorm a list of as many green items as you can (grass, limes, clover, some eyes, avocados, a nauseated person, etc.). Some items might be associated with spring or St. Patrick’s Day, but most of them probably won’t be. Use your brainstorming session as a chance to point out new vocabulary that your students might not learn otherwise.
Save the Daylight
In March Americans turn their clocks forward for the start of daylight saving’s time. With your class, discuss whether observing daylight savings time is a good practice. Do your students practice daylight savings time in their home cultures? What are the advantages to changing our clocks? What are the disadvantages? Have students write a paragraph in which they explain why daylight savings time is either a good or a bad idea.
A Pot of Gold for You
March wouldn’t be complete without a celebration St. Patrick on March 17th. One tradition associated with St. Patrick’s Day is finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Ask your students what they would do if they found a pot of gold. Start by reviewing the conditional structure in English. Then have groups of around three students discuss what they would do if they each found a pot of gold. In their discussion, students should use the conditional structure.
Beware the Ides of March
Have your students heard the phrase ‘beware the ides of March’? The idea that March 15this unlucky goes back to the death of Julias Cesar who was murdered on that day by his friend Brutus. Do your students think March 15this unlucky? What other superstitions do they hold? Have students work in groups of around four to list as many superstitions as they can, those held both in the U.S. and in their home countries. Then have students discuss whether they believe any or all of these superstitions.
Whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day, Dr. Seuss’s birthday, or any of the other reasons to celebrate in March, your students can be sure they will improve their English skills as they embrace the season.
What are your favorite language development activities to do in March?