Bilingual Phonics / Book Club / English as a second language

Jolly Plays – theater for ESL students!

A couple of weeks ago I did a review of another new Jolly Learning product – the Bumper Book. Today, I would like to tell you about the second sample I received from Jolly Learning and our experience using it in our English Summer Camp – Jolly Plays.

Theater in English!

First, let me give you a little bit of background. We usually run summer camps in English composed of four main activities: Art&Crafts, Outdoor Games, Book Club/Science Club and Theater. Of all the activites, theater has always been the hardest because I had to find an English speaking teacher who could bring his/her knowhow to run that part of the day. Not at easy task. That is why I did a little dance of joy when I saw the Jolly Plays book. Read on to see why I think that using the Jolly Plays allows you to use theater with ESL students reinforcing their spoken English without too much stress for the teacher.

Reasons to try Jolly Plays!

First of all, there are six different plays that you can pick from. We chose to try out the play called “Rainbow” because it was a perfect fit for our camp dedicated to the seasons. However, there are also detective stories and folklore derived plays which give you a wide range of topics to pick from. If you would like to take a sneak peak at the book click on this link.

Second of all, the plays are structured so that even a novice can make it work! What do I mean by that? The roles are color coordinated by level so that you can give the right level role to your students based on what would work for them. The roles have simple costume instructions so that the children can really get into the parts. And my favorite part! There are instructions how to make props and easy scenery pieces. With a low budget and a little bit of imagination, you can put together an awesome show. Our students also loved the song which accompanied the play and we downloaded the music to play along during the performance at the end of the week!

Use our flashcards!

Last of all, the book has wonderful activites for reinforcing comprehesion and suggestions for related activties. Which brings me to a couple of suggestions (FunLab style) for using in the Jolly Plays in a bilingual classroom. Before jumping into the play, I strongly recommend that you spend a little time establishing the basic vocabulary required for comprehension of the play. For the Rainbow play, we set the following words: sun, rain, snow, wind, rainbow, snowmen, sky, tree, flowers, clouds, summer, winter, autumn, spring, umbrella, boots, flip flops, kites, cold and hot. Some of these vocabulary words seem quite obvious but we had children of the same age who had dramatically different English levels. If you are interested, click here for the flashcards. We used these flashcards to play all sorts of games during the course of the week.

Reinforce compehension with creativity!

We also integrated the seasons introduced during the play into the Art&Crafts part of the day and the children created a simple season based projects. For example, we used Aquabeads to have each camper make a personalized RAINBOW when we were working on spring! If you have never used these beads, you got to try them with your students. The kids just build the rainbow, spray with water and wait for them to dry.

Jolly Phonics with ESL students

The beads magically stick to each other! We purchased them from Amazon and they were delivered the next day. We also used the Aquabead work trays to make this a little easier! A simple project with little prep time that the students love.

If you want to integrate the Rainbow play into a more complete development of seasons with your students take a look at the post Season’s of the Year lap book we had the kids make during Book Club!

My readout for the sucess of a project is the happiness of our students. On Friday when we sat down and each class put on their version of Rainbow, I was struck by the pride and joy which the kids showed off what they had created during the week. All of the kids participated! Even students with weaker English skills were able to find a part which worked for them. I was so proud of their dedication. They just emitted self confidence while putting on the show in ENGLISH! The Jolly Plays books is an excellent way to impliment theater with ESL students!

Try out a play and let us know how it went!


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