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Classroom Activities

English Teaching Materials, Games and Activities

December 22, 2008

Working with Workbooks

Almost all children's course books have a workbook. Workbooks, also called activity books and home books, are basically collections of worksheets related to the course book, so it's important to understand what makes a good worksheet and conversely, what makes a bad one. How a workbook is used, both inside and outside the classroom, can have a major impact on the success of your class.

Let me give you some suggestions which may help you decide whether or not your workbook is well thought out and a valuable part of your curriculum.

1. The workbook should not only engage the child visually but also mentally. So often there is an information gap which can only be filled from the child's own knowledge. If the page can be completed using purely visual clues, then, unless it's practising hand-eye coordination, it's probably a waste of time and paper.

2. If you are to have a child-centred classroom or/and if the child is to work independently at home, then any instructions on how to complete a particular page in the workbook must be comprehensible to the child. Many workbooks do not fulfil this requirement so the teacher uses up valuable time in order to explain the page to the children. My personal preference is to do an activity in the classroom which will lead naturally into the workbook. I have found that the vast majority of children are able to make the link between activity and workbook page, without major intervention from the teacher or parent.

3. It is related to what you're teaching in the classroom and consolidates what you are teaching or prepares the child for the next step as well as integrating easily into your curriculum.

4. It is easy to check and provides useful information to the teacher in the form of evaluation.

5. A good design will require a number of skills to complete the page.

Going back to point 2 above, I should say that the activity should provide a clear link between the course book and the workbook. Often times you can find such an activity in your teacher's book. I find that this point of contact, between course book and workbook, to be inspirational in creating materials, games and activities, and I'd like to share with you some of these "materials, games and activities" in the hope that they assist you in the classroom.

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