Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Talking About Halloween

In the spirit of Halloween I let my kids play a game today. It was a speaking game similar to Taboo. Students partnered up; one pretended to be an alien who just arrived to Earth today, and the other had to explain to the alien what Halloween was without using the taboo words: Halloween, candy, costume, scary, pumpkin, witch, ghost, party, or trick-or-treat. If the student made a mistake and said one of the words, he/she had to give the alien one M&M (each student had a handful).

I did the activity with all of my groups from Kindergarten to Fifth grade. It was interesting to see how the different groups did with the activity. I first did it with my second/third grade group. They had a little trouble with it because they didn't really get that they needed to make someone *understand* what Halloween was about. I was prompting one of the second graders by asking, "What do you do on Halloween?" She said, "I play around." They were all so worried about saying the words that they didn't really explain the holiday and not much candy was exchanged in the process. My fourth/fifth grade group on the other hand couldn't stop saying the taboo words. The youngest groups actually did a pretty good job with the activity although it took a lot of modeling to get them to understand what they needed to do. In all of the groups the students that did the best with the speaking activity were the students who spoke the least English. It actually makes sense though; they are used to having to talk around words that they don't know. For example one student was describing trick-or-treating but couldn't say "candy" so he said, " . . . you get chocolates and other sugar things." That is exactly what someone learning English would say if they didn't know the word for candy. My more proficient speakers had more trouble realizing there was another way to get the meaning of "candy" across.

No comments: