21.6.15

Around Town: activities about shops and places in a city

I suppose every child around the world goes places with their parents. Schools, hospitals, parks, train stations, bus stations, and shops are all around and children learn to recognize them and to interact with the people who work there quite early on.

At the age of five, some of them have certainly already experienced grocery shopping with their parents: asking for food (in our cute Spanish neighbourood shops), asking about the price of it and handing money over to the shopkeeper to pay for the family shopping.

Taking this into account, since my classes are inspired by children's real life and interests, I planned some lessons around this topic. And looking back on the whole experience, I must say we enjoyed it a lot. Thanks to activities involving coloring in, cutting out and pasting, as well as role playing games, the kids learned a lot  and in a reasonably short time.

Step one: I showed them some flash cards and we played flash cards games to remember the different locations. In the first group, the places were either very familiar or had a very recognizable name: school, park, hospital, train station, bus station, gas station… and airport, which at the beginning was logically called… the plane station (my cuties!)

Then we made a paper city: I let them choose which place they wanted to color in, cut out and paste onto the wall of the classroom, where I had previously stuck a long paper street. If you're working with a very small group you could suggest doing a 3D version of the same project, using whatever recycling material you can think of (see pictures).

We also played this game: ' Look!' - pointing in any direction to get the kids attention, of course - 'I can see a train/plane/bus/car/ teacher… Where am I?'

The second step was to introduce the names of shops, such as the butcher's, the fishmonger's (one of the most loved by the kids, probably because it sounded funny) the baker's, the green grocer's, the flower shop, and the supermarket.

We use flashcards games to memorize the words and then we played charades: the players took turns acting it out, without speaking or making sound effects, while the other players tried to guess which shop they were in.

Then we added these shops to our paper city. Everyone got the same paper model of a generic shop. Each child decorated their own shop windows with the typical products of the shop they had chosen to illustrate.

Next we played Shopping List, another Orchard Toys memory game where each player has to be the first to fill their trolley with all of the items on their shopping list. There are also booster packs about fruit and vegetables, or clothes  available which are the perfect way to review a ton of vocabulary.

Finally we practiced real life situations. The last game was a role play about buying  and selling. I printed several items for each shop and fake toy money (which some of the children couldn't resist pocketing, even though they were only pieces of paper, eh eh eh!). Some of the kids acted as shopkeepers, displaying all their products on tables, while the others were the customers.

Here's the dialogue they used:

Customer: Good afternoon! (we usually have class after lunch)
Shopkeeper: Good afternoon! May I help you?
Customer: Yes, please. Can I have...
Shopkeeper: Here you are. Anything else?
Customer: No, thanks. How much is it?
Shopkeeper: It's € ..., please.
Customer: Here you are. 
Shopkeeper: Thank you! See you soon!
Customer: See you!

As you can see I recycled expressions I was sure they already knew (greetings, asking for something, etc.), and added new ones like 'How much is it?', 'May I help you?' and 'Anything else?'. This allowed the kids to think in a logical way about what they were saying instead of just learning it by heart.

First they practiced the dialogue by buying paper bread, paper flowers, paper fish, paper fruit and paper vegetables. Then to make it clear that this dialogue could be used for any kind of shopping, I let them buy real stickers and real candies… to their great astonishment! One even exclaimed ' "What?!?!? You are giving us real sweets for fake toy money?!?! "

They may be young but they're certainly not slow!


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