Classroom Language Center Activities

Classroom Language_Snapshot

Click on the image to download the activity

My first year teaching in Hong Kong has been a wonderful learning experience. Never before had I taught students at such varying degrees of English language abilities. The curriculum was new, my students were new, I was new and my knowledge of how exactly all of those pieces were going to fit together was not yet known.

Now, as I prepare for next year, I have taken some time to really think about what is missing in my classroom. One of the biggest problems I have as an English teacher is that I am not a classroom teacher. Why is this a problem? Well, it means I see most of my classes only one time per week for 70 min. each. Because of this, it is quite difficult to establish rules, routines, and procedures quickly. It takes more time because I see them less often.

One thing I want to change for next year: I want to implement a procedure for students to follow for when they are finished with their work/activity early. I want them to be productive and use their extra time to continue to practice their English skills. One of the activities I would like them to complete is the “Classroom Language Center.” I will set up an area of the room where they can go to complete this center. Once they use the “self evaluation” sheet provided at the center, they will put the completed evaluation sheet in their classroom folders. Students can earn stamps for completing different center activities during their free time.

I am excited to try this new approach and eager to make more fun materials that are meaningful for my students to complete after they have finished their work. Hopefully, I will no longer have the problem of “Miss Julia, I’M FINISHED!!” :)

Modified Jenga Game

If you teach ELL (English Language Learners), you probably know that each student has varying degrees of motivation for learning English. Some students are motivated by the simple fact that they want to communicate with their peers. Some are motivated by their parents. Some may even be motivated because they truly like the English language and they want to learn more about it.

But, if you have taught in another country, you may have found that the pressure to learn English rests heavily on the shoulders of the students. This growing pressure can lead students to feel unmotivated and even a strong opposition to learning the language. These students also exist in the United States.

What do I do to help students learn AND feel comfortable using a foreign language? WE PLAY GAMES!

Overwhelmingly, I have found that playing controlled classroom games helps students become more familiar and comfortable with the English Language. They not only learn to cooperate and communicate with their classmates in English, but they have fun doing it!

Occasionally, I have a few students who are too shy to open up and try their best at playing the games. If this is a regular occurrence in your classroom, try jumping in there and playing the game with that particular group with the shy student. Maybe even make a few mistakes. :) Showing the students that you can mess up but still have fun practicing English and playing the game can make all the difference.

Here is a review game modified from the game JENGA.

Jenga Game_snapshot

If you click on the image, it should bring you to my TpT store where it is FREE. If you want to edit the questions to fit the specific needs and level of your students, you can edit the questions on my GoogleDocs file here.

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope using fun games can help your students learn and cooperate together!


Guided Reading Galore!

Happy Monday to all! It’s late May and getting HOT HOT HOT here in Hong Kong.

First, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for following my site. I really appreciate you taking the time to check it out. I spent a lot of time this weekend checking out all of the other great teaching blogs out there and I was in awe of all the brilliant educators there are on the internet. You gals and guys are my INSPIRATION.

This weekend, I created some new gadgets for guided reading! Also, I gave my guided reading recording sheets a face lift.

Unfortunately, because I teach so many DIFFERENT classes, I can only do guided reading once per week with each class. Luckily for me, I have a local teacher and a classroom assistant in my classroom, so most of my groups receive group-focused instruction every week. (When teaching ESL/ELL learners in large groups, it’s difficult to provide the correct amount of small group/individualized instruction that the students NEED), but we try our best. :)

Here is my Guided Reading Recording Sheet. The main purpose of this sheet is to record the different strategies the students are using while reading. Also, I give the students points if they are able to follow along appropriately and at the end of the session, if their behavior has been good, I give them a sticker or stamp.

Guided Reading Recording Sheet

Guided Reading Recording Sheet

Here is my Guided Reading Observation Sheet (attached to the Recording Sheet). The purpose of this sheet is to make more detailed notes about the students’ progress. I also have a box at the bottom called “Focus for Next Time,” that will help me remember what I need to re-teach or go over with that group during the next session.

Guided Reading Observation Sheet

Guided Reading Observation Sheet

I know I have posted a previous photo of my silly glasses here but, I spruced them up a bit by adding some paint and finding some recyclable containers to store them in. Here they are.


Silly Glasses



More Silly Glasses

I not only will use these during guided reading, but also with other class activities like “Spot the Vocab” and “Look at the Picture, What can you See?”

Last, but certainly not least, WHISPER PHONES!!! My colleagues and I are super excited about this fun addition to our lessons for next year. I hope the phones serve as good motivation for the students to read to themselves after they finish their work AND of course during guided reading sessions as well.

whisper phones

Whisper Phones

Well, that’s all for me today! Thank you for reading and have a great week!


Vocab Sort



My new printable is available at :)

My kiddos enjoy vocabulary sorting activities. Usually, I have a stack of index cards and a marker set up next to me as I am doing shared reading. Depending on the level of the students, I ask them scaffolding questions to help elicit appropriate responses. For example, in grade 1 we are reading a book about animals, clothing items, and facial features of the animals. I will ask questions like: What animal is this? When a student answers me with the name of an animal, I write it on an index card. I do the same with clothing items and facial features. After I have a stack of index cards with different words written on them, we write the various categories on the board and I conduct a group vocab sort! 

Make sure to check out my TpT store to see the latest Vocabulary Sorting Worksheets!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Card Games (Especially useful for ELL Kids)

Howdy everyone!

I know you are all making today a FANTASTICAL day! :)

I am getting VERY close to making my first few Teachers Pay Teachers materials (FREEBIES). I am super excited about starting an account! I can’t wait to give back to the teaching community!

Today, I want to share a few card games that work WONDERFULLY in my ELL Classroom. The games I play are geared for Grade 1 and Grade 2 ELL Learners in the WIDA Performance English Proficiency Levels 1 (Entering), 2 (Beginning), and 3 (Developing).

Up first is the classic game of ‘Go Fish.’

Go Fish Animals and Clothing

We are currently covering a unit about animals and clothing. In the book the animals wear the clothing for a fashion show! This game is a great way to review the vocabulary about animals and clothing.

The sentences can be changed depending on what sentence structure you are working on. For example, the sentence structure I am working on is “The _____ has ____ ______.” (The lion has black shorts.) In this version, I have the students give one or both cards to the player who asked the sentence (if they have the correct card(s) in their hands).

For my WIDA Level 1:Entering stage students, I have them use “Do you have _____?” (Do you have a tiger?) until they understand the rules of the game. 

This is a great game to have lying around for when students finish their work early. The more vocabulary practice, the BETTER!

Up second, the amazing Sight Word UNO brought to you by Ms. Jessica over at A Turn to Learn. You can download a copy at her TpT store. :)

Sight Word Uno

Sight Word UNO: a great way to help kiddos practice their sight words!

My students LOVE this game, and why wouldn’t they? To make it more difficult for my Level 3 Developing students, I have them use the word in a sentence when they lay down a card.

The last card game I want to show you is UNO again, but this time it is Prepositions UNO. I first came into contact with this resource when I was teaching English in South Korea. It is another klever supplemental activity to help students practice their prepositions.

Preposition Uno

Prepositions UNO: Students can lay down a card when the animal matches the card before or the prepositional phrase matches the card before it. Fun stuff!

This incredible resource was discovered on Thank you for your hard work!

I hope you can find these ideas helpful! Thank you for visiting my post! Have a great Tuesday!


Guided Reading Gadgets

Wow! Thank you to all the wonderful teachers out there in the blogosphere! You have provided me with some GREAT ideas to use in my lessons. Today, I am very thankful for all of you!

Let me fill you in…

My partner, also a teacher, just brought me back some fun materials (from the USA) to use and make for my guided reading lessons. Today was the first trial of using WITCH FINGERS in my classroom! 

Witch Pointers

Witch fingers I ordered off Amazon. On Amazon, you can get them any time of year, not just Halloween.

I didn’t have a guided reading lesson today, so instead, I introduced my witch fingers to my Grade 1 students. Most of my students have a difficult time remembering to track or point to the text while reading, but with the implementation of the witch fingers today, they had no such problem! They LOVED them! This was quite a breakthrough for me because when you teach English Language Learners, just relaying the message of what the words “track” or “point” mean can take precious minutes and leave the students confused and unmotivated to track the text.

Now, they love it (and they’re reading better too)!

I can’t wait to use them in my guided reading lessons.

Moving on to my next gadget: “Quiz Me” Sticks. Thanks to Mrs. Patton’s Patch for the inspiration! I had to modify the questions for my kiddos to questions they can read and answer on their own without the help of the teacher. 

Quiz Me Sticks

The questions are the same or similar to ones I use during Shared Reading and Guided Reading. The students can now recognize and read the questions and give me answers in full sentences!

My last gadget I will put into my Guided Reading Gadgets Box are the Silly Reading Glasses courtesy of Tracy Tegeler over at Creekside Teacher Tales. They will be used to model the reading strategy “Eagle Eyes” during my Shared Reading time as well as during guided reading when I want the kids to look for clues in the text.

Silly Glasses

I can’t WAIT to continue to add MORE gadgets to my Guided Reading Gadgets Box! I will keep you updated as I fill it! Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by, and for all the mothers out there, Happy Mother’s Day!

Classroom Reward System

When I started my job here in Hong Kong and I found out I would be teaching eight different classes of klever kids, I began to “freak out” a bit about my classroom management system. When you teach grade one students, some of whom have rarely been exposed to English, the main focus of classroom management should center around positive reinforcement and positive behavior strategies. I also had to keep in mind that whichever method I was going to use had to be sustainable with several classes (if not all). As much as I believe in differentiation, it is more manageable for both myself and my students if we are all following the same or similar reward systems across classes.

Not only do I believe in using AMPLE amounts of POSITIVE reinforcement, but I believe in OVER DRAMATIZING the positive reinforcement. :)

With my students, we use a 1-10 English sticker chart.

The students are divided into four groups in my classroom: The Blue Snakes, The Green Frogs, The Yellow Ducks, and The Red Hens. If I see a kiddo do something klever, I give that group one tally mark. Not only does the student get a tally mark for their group, but they get A LOT of OVER-DRAMATIZING positive reinforcement. The group with the most tally marks at the end of the English lesson receives a sticker that is to be placed on their 1-10 English sticker chart.


photo (7)

1-10 English Sticker Chart


I have found that when I really express how much I like the behavior of a student doing something correct, or behaving well, all of the other students follow suit without me having to point out bad behavior.

This particular method works well in my classroom because I only see one class two times per week. It takes them a little while to build up their stickers to ’10.’ Once a group gets to 10 stickers, they can choose from my small box of goodies. (usually these are little erasers or toys I have found at the wonderful Sham Shui Po stationary market!)

The longer I work with my ELL students, the more I realize that a behavior I may consider to be “bad,” may actually be that the student doesn’t understand what I expect of them. That is why I believe that showing them my dramatic positive reinforcement is better for them to not only help them understand what is expected of them, but it makes them feel good too!