Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Tips to Get the Most Out of Four Corners Activities

GET YOUR KIDS MOVING with Four Corners Activities! I love seeing my elementary Spanish students moving about my room as they demonstrate comprehension of vocabulary...and they love the opportunity to get up out of their seats. Taking the traditional Four Corners Activity and adding to it to enhance comprehension brings it to a new level.

WAIT! HOW DO YOU PLAY FOUR CORNERS? Perhaps a review is in order.... choose 4 vocabulary items, either pictures or manipulatives such as plastic fruits, veggies, etc. Put each one in a different corner or place in the classroom... now, say a vocab word and direct students to get up and move to the corner where that item is. With more than 4 vocab words, change them out every few rounds to increase practice. (Be sure to review and model appropriate movement around your room prior to starting- this avoids running, pushing, and bumped heads!)

STARTING WITH THE WHOLE CLASS is fun, but you will soon see a few leaders emerge, while the rest of the class becomes the herd, following the piper as he or she heads off to the appropriate corners seconds before everyone else. Cull them from the crowd! Ok, let's not be that harsh- instead, try these tips to break the class up, thereby requiring those herd animals to concentrate harder on comprehending the vocab as they can no longer rely on the quick little hares.

*SEPARATE THE CLASS into boys and girls- divide and conquer! Once separated, instruct only one group at a time to go to a particular word- "Boys, find the apple!", "Girls, find the pear!". I love the added layer of having kids listen not only to the target vocab but also the distinction between 'niño' and 'niña'!

*MAKE EVEN SMALLER GROUPS- divide the class into groups of 4-5 kiddos, give them a number to name their group, and then instruct 'Team 1- find the watermelon!", "Team 2- find the orange!". Again, by breaking the class into smaller groups, more kiddos have to think rather than follow.

*PAIR THEM UP- separate the class into pairs and then instruct pairs to head off to a vocabulary item. Unless you keep this variation moving quickly, you will have a bunch of squirrels on your hands as the rest of the class is waiting their turn, so be prepared! You could change this up, if your kiddos have reading skills, by writing the vocabulary words on index cards (make multiples!) and handing them to pairs- a bit like a scavenger hunt. Remind kiddos how to move in your classroom (again!) to ensure safety. This version really gets down to the nitty gritty, without individuals being put on the spot on their very lonesome.

*MAKING YOUR PROMPTS LONGER: As your students gain more language, you can incorporate clues to the items as opposed to the vocabulary word. So, for example, if your words are fruits, you could state 'This fruit is red and round" instead of 'apple', or 'This fruit is yellow and long" instead of 'banana', which further develops listening and processing skills.

*PREFERENCES: This twist on the original game is a fun way to incorporate personal preferences, and can be used with any item, including works of art, a great way to bring in culture. As above, place four items in the corners, and then direct students to go to the one they like the most. You can debrief quickly, counting how many students in each corner, for example, before changing the items and starting again. I love doing this during our theme on Frida Kahlo- I pay close attention to the paintings that are getting the most "votes" and them put them all out at once- it's fun to see them trying to choose amongst several favorites!

HAVE FUN and watch your kiddos enjoy being out of their seats while demonstrating comprehension skills!


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