Craft Activities for Young Learners - The rationale
May 15, 2018 Classroom Materials 1746 Views
Craft activities are great fun in the classroom and are especially effective young learners. Activities can take more time to prepare in advance, and can turn out to be messy, but they also create meaningful learning opportunities and help make language seem more real. Below are some of the advantages of doing craft in the EFL classroom as well as some top tips for carrying them out.
Advantages of craft activities
Craft encourages children’s creativity and allows them to express themselves and their own designs. As with all creative tasks, this works best when children are given a clear template or outline of what they will do and all they need to do is personalize small parts for themselves.
Young learners especially tend to be kinaesthetic. They interact with the world by touching and exploring, which make the objects more real for them. Craft activities tap into this natural inquisitiveness by getting them to work with things they can interact with. Conversely because kinaesthetic tasks appeal to them, children tend to be more motivated by, and interested in, craft activities.
Many games and activities in the EFL classroom can seem a little artificial. Games are specifically designed to provide practice in the target language and don’t necessarily reflect how children use language in the real world. Craft activities reflect what children of this age do in their everyday lives. Any language used in this context will be much more authentic and replicate how children use language generally. The language used also tends to be more purposeful as it is being used to complete a task with a tangible goal.
Craft activities often involve working together to achieve a goal and help develop a number of important social skills. Students learn to share, take turns, interact with each other, make decisions together, amongst other things. For classes who do not interact well with each other, craft represents a chance for the students to get to know each other and ‘bond’ over a fun activity.
Top tips for setting up craft activities
Craft activities tend to be more involved and require more preparation and setting up than other types of activities. Below are some tips on how to effectively integrate craft into your lessons.
Make time for it
Craft activities tend to take a lot longer than other activities. This can be an advantage as it is one of the times when it is possible to do much longer tasks with very young learners. Consider carefully how long it is going to take and make sure you have enough time to complete it. Remember that every aspect of the task will take time, so factor this in. Even taking things out and putting them away takes time. Don’t plan for the craft activity to be the last thing in the lesson. Craft activities are difficult to end early so make sure to do them earlier in the lesson otherwise you might be running up against the clock.
Don’t let one student work quickly and get too far ahead. Break the task down into a series of shorter stages. Stop at the end of each stage and allow for all the students to catch up. It’s easier to keep one student occupied for a short period of time rather than them finishing five minutes before everyone else.
Make the most of it
Build in activities before the craft activity, practicing the necessary language you will need. Also do follow up activities based on what you have done.
Show it off
Children love to show off what they have created to adults. Don’t put what they have created in the student’s bag, let them carry what they have created out of the classroom to show to their parents as they leave. If possible use what they have made during the exit drill.
Ideally the children would create everything in the activity, from start to finish. Due to time restraints however, this is not always possible. Plan in advance what parts of the task you want the students to do and then prepare everything else beforehand. Often if there is a lot of cutting out or drawing it can be more efficient for you to do this before the lesson and then just get the students to finish it off during the class.