Teaching vocabulary to preschoolers, hello, bye bye, ball and hand

teddies waving hello and the word hello as concepts to teach preschoolers
29 Jun SAV 4 Comments

Hello Teachers,


An English teacher in Tianjin, China asked me how to teach the following four words to preschoolers aged 3-5.


  • Hello
  • Bye bye
  • Ball
  • Hand


Whenever possible, demonstrate vocabulary words with gestures. Using gestures makes a word more real, especially to a preschool learner.


Hello and Bye bye

1. Demonstrate the concepts of hello and bye bye. Leave the room saying "Bye bye". Go out and close the door behind you, but jump back in immediately, before chaos breaks out, and say, "Hello". Do this three times.  Then come in and say, "Hello" and cup your hand to your ear, indicate to the class that they are to say, "Hello" to you. Continue going in and out and have the kids say "Bye bye" and "Hello" to you each time.


2. Make a pretend door in the classroom, perhaps with two chairs back to back and a space between them. Drape a sheet over a desk. Demonstrate. Go out through the pretend door and disappear behind the sheet saying, "Bye bye".  Now have four children come and do this, saying, "Bye bye" to the class. The class reply with "Bye bye".  You get the idea... Preschool children will enjoy doing this, even though it is such a simple activity. Enhance it by giving those going in and out a hat to wear.


3. Use a teddy bear. The teddy bear arrives from behind your back, or a box. Teddy says, "Hello". Everyone says "Hello". Then teddy waves goodbye, everyone says "Bye bye" and it disappears again, behind your back or into the box.


4. Use these words in every lesson and your preschool learners will soon become confident using them.




1. Although "Hand" is the only body part on your list, I would teach it with "Foot".  Avoid left hand and right hand, since preschool children can't grasp that concept.  Instead, contrast with "Foot" and possibly "Head". Use mime and have everyone touch the colour red with their hand, and the colour blue with their foot. Touch your foot with your hand. Touch your head with your foot. Touch Phuong with your hand. Touch a chair with your foot. The teacher demonstrates and the kids copy.


If touching anything with a foot is perceived as rude, replace with "Elbow".

preschool children playing with football aiming at goal


1. Any teacher who finds managing preschool children a challenge should be wary of balls. They often excite children, especially boys!  Only let well-behaved children, who are sitting nicely touch the ball. Roll the ball across the floor, to a child. Tell the child to stop the ball with his/her hand or foot (or elbow). Preschoolers should enjoy that, but you can't do this activity if you have 25 kids in your classroom. The other 24 will be too bored waiting for a turn!


2. Place a teddy in one box and the ball in another.  Ask five children to come to you. Tell them to touch either the ball of the teddy. This will keep them from getting out of hand with a ball flying all over the classroom!


3. If your preschool class is a manageable size try asking pupils to roll a ball along the floor to the student opposite. Have pupils roll the ball to the red corner, or to the blue corner. Or place students in the four corners and have pupils roll a ball to the pupil you name. if anyone is naughty, look at them, point to the pretend door you set up earlier and say, "Bye bye". Then have them over to sit with you. Be kind but firm.



Preschool games book for English language learnersIf you get my preschool games book you will have plenty of ideas as Jessica Duguet Souber-Broglio from France says:


"I totally recommend this book and I have been so happy and stress-free since I bought it. It gave me a clear understanding of how to teach pre-school kids. I am a new ESL teacher who was "freaking out" before reading it. Now I am a happy teacher looking forward to my lessons with my pupils. I will keep this book forever with me and it is my number 1 resource. I am just a little bit sad that I didn’t discover it earlier, it would have made my first months so more enjoyable and relaxed. I like the structure and the extra advice inside, contrary to other books, you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the activities as it presents them so clearly. It improved my planning time and the quality of my lessons. I am now a happy customer, I also bought other resources from the author and they are really great. I love the stories and the fact that they come with clear lesson plans and resources already made, just have to press print. I prefer to laminate mine. Thank you so much for creating such fantastic resources."





Let me know how it goes in the comments box below!


All the best

Shelley Ann Vernon

PS. And by the way, the intro of the above book has plenty on managing the class. (If you have a Chinese assistant, get him or her on your side urgently!)




Thank you forma tour ideas. I will práctice them with my children.. Waiting forma tour news..... Yours truly.. Dina G.
Hi teachers, in case you think the above ideas are nuts, I just wanted to quote you the email I have just received from a teacher: Thanks so much for the resources you sent me. They are already proving very helpful and my kids just love the hello and bye activity. Yes the balls activity also work perfectly for the balls and it's been great. I hope to continue having a great time teaching here.
Great ideas as usual! I am looking forward to using them with my children at school.Thank you very much!
Dear Violeta, Thanks for your comment. I hope it all goes well. If you need me for anything, just ask! All the best, Shelley

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