Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Blowing Bubbles- A Calm Activity for FLES World Language Classes

EVER HAVE THOSE CLASSES WHERE KIDS ARE JUST SO IMPULSIVE, SO WIGGLY you can barely get anything done? Nearly every year, I have at least one incoming Kindergarten class that feels like a whole batch of tumbling puppies who have no idea that being in school involves learning, as well as play (well, at least in my room we play a lot!). As I start the year, introducing routines & class expectations, I also find, particularly with classes like these, incorporating activities which foster self control and calm are immensely helpful as we focus on being learners (as well as puppies!). A number of years ago, I started searching out activities that work on this fostering of self control and stumbled upon this one- blowing bubbles- BUT DON'T POP THEM!

HERE'S A SIMPLE EXPLANATION OF HOW I RUN THIS ACTIVITY (NOTE: this is all in the target language):

(Lights off (to reinforce the idea of calm) & I speak in a soft voice)
*We all sit in circle, including me. I indicate they need to be at the edge of the rug & stay in their place.
*I take out the bubbles and the wand and tell the kids I'm going to blow some bubbles.
*I blow one batch of bubbles and express amazement- Wow! Look at the bubbles!
*I monitor very closely to see if any hands reach out-if they do, I gently redirect, indicating not to touch the bubbles.
*Usually there are at least a few who try to pop the bubbles :) so...
*I start again, saying I am going to blow bubbles-this time I tell them not to touch or pop the bubbles before I blow them, miming the instruction.
*I blow some more bubbles, again monitoring carefully and gently redirecting as necessary.
*I repeat this process, each time w the expectation no bubbles will be popped. Usually by the third time most kids will get the idea and will refrain, allowing us all to marvel at the beauty of the bubbles, and watching the ones that land but don't pop (this is endlessly captivating for my students!)
*At this point, it should become apparent (if not already) as to who really needs this activity the most-your wiggle worm! For me, the whole point of this activity is to help the really impulsive ones develop some self control, which also takes a lot of patience on my part, because now you have to monitor, coach & celebrate the success of this kiddo.
>It is not uncommon at this point, during the first introduction of this activity, that the wiggle worm just does not have the skills yet to self contain. I usually put the activity away, but bring it back next class and we try again. So far, in the many times I have done this activity, it has only taken 3 class times to get my little wiggle friends to hold back. (yes, this is a long haul activity, and I am sure there is that kiddo out there who just never responds). Coupled with other activities designed for developing self control, this can be powerful for kiddos like this. Out of control bodies can often have a negative impact on social relationships with classmates, obviously interferes with learning, and can frankly drive everyone nuts. And, since this activity can be done entirely in the target language, you are still providing an immersive setting-win-win!

UPDATED: Interested in doing this activity, but can't blow bubbles because of your mask? No worries! Instead, use the large wand which you wave through the air instead of blowing through :) 

And for a fun way to practice personal space bubbles, have each kid stand inside a hula hoop, all of which are distanced one from the other. Blow bubbles (using the large wand) amidst the kids, allowing them to pop the bubbles ONLY if they (the bubbles) enter their personal space. If a kid steps out of his/her "bubble" aka hula hoop, they have to sit down for a turn. TIP: If you are able to do this activity outside (which would be fantastic!) it is really helpful if you are able to set up the hula hoops outside beforehand so you don't have to carry them. This will also reduce handling them so you don't have to clean them :) 

Use Hula Hoops to practice Social distancing
For more calm activities in the classroom, check out my post 'Be the calm classroom'! And don't miss my Pinterest board on classroom management by clicking here.

And, for the original video I watched and modified for my class on this activity, click here!

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