December 30, 2009

Two little dicky birds

One of my first lesson plans in Infant Education is based on the finger rhyme "Two little dicky birds". Although it seems too complicated, children learn it quickly, and they enjoy the game with the fingers. This rhyme has got a small plot, it's short and it has got three important elements in teaching young children: repetition, rhythm and intonation.

Peter and Paul, the characters, are two paper birds that live in my cloth bag inside the magic box. Each time I want to introduce new vocabulary, I make my students guess it, I hide the flash cards or the objects in the cloth bag and I try them to elicit it giving them clues, they have to make their guesses in their mother tongue, I repeat what they say in English.

Then, bit a bit, I show them my birds and I explain the rhyme story. Their names are Peter and Paul, they are two, they are very small, they are sitting on a wall... To explain it, I draw a wall on the board and I stick my birds on it, I move the birds taking into account what the rhyme says. Once they know the plot, I start to say the rhyme using my fingers, and then, I ask them to do the finger actions with me. The first day, my pupils  are usually able to do the finger actions by themselves and after a few lessons they are able to say it without my help.

After each lesson, students make some table activities related to the rhyme: colouring Peter and Paul, making the puppets, drawing the wall... These activities are very useful and they help children speak in English at home, they see their work and they can show it to their parents imitating what the teacher does.

These are my students saying the rhyme:

This is the template you can use to make two finger puppets (Peter and Paul).

Recently, I've learned in a teachers' course in Norwich a new version. In the video, it's possible to see Jamie Keddie (a famous ESL writer) with other teachers singing the rhyme. Jamie has got two bird drawings stuck  on his nails, and when Peter and Paul fly away, he changes the fingers and we can't see the birds. Children love it because they think that the teacher is a magician that makes Peter and Paul disappear and appear again.

You can watch other videos about the rhyme clicking on the links:

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