How to put on an end of term English show
Why give a show?
An end of term show is a fantastic way to motivate kids. It's also important to share what you have been doing all term, or all year, with parents and the school. It's a chance for students to show off and be rewarded for their efforts.
Fears - No English and No ideas?
That said, many teachers fear attempting to showcase English class, since the level of English is often so low, they can't think what to do! In traditional English classrooms, the majority of pupils are incapable of speaking basic English, let alone putting on a show in English. However, teachers using my games and methods will not have this problem.
Here are ideas for content for the show. Read on to feel more confident about undertaking the challenge of an end of term English show...
The English Show
When I gave an end of term shows for parents here is what I did:
1. Firstly I would showcase some vocabulary games. Here pupils showed off their knowledge of vocabulary learned through the term or year. This involved showing vocabulary flashcards, naming flashcards and objects and miming words.
2. Next, we might perform actions to a song, singing along in the chorus.
3. I might then stage a game of Simon Says and have the audience join in.
4. Next I might stage a quiz, with pupils in teams. Questions would cover language learned throughout the year, such as, "What's your name? Where do you live? What is this?" And, if applicable, I could include general knowledge questions. I would always ask questions I knew my students could answer. And for any particularly weak students, I would ask the simplest questions of all, such as, "What colour is this?"
5. With small groups, one has the luxury of being able to present short skits or plays. This would be the pièce de résistence of my shows! The advantage of my plays and skits for primary school children is that the lines are simple and repetitive. All students know all the lines. This way you don't have the nightmare of your main character not showing up on the day because he is home with the flu! Anyone can step in and take any role.
6. Other ideas for content are reciting a simple poem over a rhythm. Use boxes as drums. Kids pat on the boxes in a rhythm and recite the poem. Include percussion and music in the show. For example, have kids "play" saucepans. You'll notice that each pan has a note! The same goes for bottles. Make shakers from everyday items, such as putting sand inside a plastic bottle. Recite simple rhymes over a rhythm.
7. If you have time the kids might each write a program.
8. Equally, you might make props together.
Show Preparation Tips
1. Start early. Prepare little and often throughout the term. This allows for repetition and revision. There is plenty on how to prepare for a skit in my book of plays and skits.
2. Always prepare without written prompts. Everything should be committed to memory from day one. You achieve this through repetition, and building content gradually. Some teachers give out scripts. Going through them is laborious and lacks spontaneity.
The script is something to work on at desks, doing a grammar treasure hunt or a jigsaw puzzle. But expecting children to learn a play through reading the script is a recipe for boring lessons and hesitant performance.
3. Break it up. Teach other topics alongside the show content. Spend 15 minutes on show content at each lesson, then move on to something else. This keeps the idea of the show fresh and exciting.
4. Keep props simple and use them at the end, only once the script is thoroughly learned. At first they are a distraction! Once the child knows his or her lines, the prop becomes an asset.
5. Remember to invite the parents with enough warning. Ask the head of school if you may perform your show, or part of it, at a school assembly.
What if the kids freeze up?
Your students might freeze up on the night and be tongue-tied! This has happened to me, but only once! If you use the above structure for your show, starting with some group vocabulary games, you won't have any trouble with shyness. Children start the show performing easy tasks as a group. You proceed with a song, and then questioning, easy questions they know. By the time you come to the skit or play, pupils have settled and become used to being on stage in front of the crowd. If you have to prompt, don't give the whole line, just the first word.
I have been criticized because the parents could not understand the content of my show. The kids had progressed so much they couldn't follow it! You might consider giving shy students the role of showing subtitles at the right moments. This will certainly help their English progress without forcing them to speak in public if they feel uncomfortable. Otherwise, feel free to give a resumé of what is going on to help those parents who speak no English at all.
Oh, and don't forget to have someone film the performance. Playing it back to the kids is a valuable revision opportunity.
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