Today we have Break Into English visit us with their guest blog on how to use books when learning a language, in this case they present to us three of their favourite English picture books, with some great ideas for activities around these books that will make the reading (hint: language learning) more fun for both you and the kids. Happy Reading!
OUR FAVOURITE BOOKS IN ENGLISH FOR CHILDREN AND RELATED ACTIVITIES
Reading bedtime stories is a great complement to English lessons for kids and a wonderful way to get a daily dose of language learning. But why should books be restricted just to bedtime?
Here at Break Into English we believe that books are an essential foundation to build language learning projects upon. In this article we will tell you all about our three favourite books in English for children. We’ll also give you some ideas on what types of related activities you can do as a family after reading them.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This is the story of a caterpillar who wakes up very hungry and commences to eat a lot of different foods! He then falls asleep… and when he wakes up he has turned into a beautiful butterfly. This story is great for both younger and older children who are learning English.
When reading the story with younger children the focus could be on learning food vocabulary. When reading the book be sure to point at the different food and ask your child what they can see before you say the name. Try and get your child to say the name before you read it but if they do not know or cannot remember do not push them, instead ask a simpler question for example, what colour is the food? The trick to learning English at home is to keep things fun and interesting. If a child feels pressured they will no longer find it fun and will not want to practice with you at home.
This book is also great for practicing numbers. Count how many items of different food the caterpillar is eating. You can also check out this finger painting activity for practicing counting with a caterpillar theme: https://funhandprintartblog.com/fingerprint-counting-printables-for-spring.html. Children love getting messy so they’ll love painting their fingers to create this art piece!
Animal Boogie by Debbie Harter
Children of all ages will love this book and the activities that can follow on from it! The book shows different jungle animals hiding and then dancing together. Adults will take pleasure in discovering the colourful illustrations and children will have a lot of fun trying to find the hidden animals in the pictures.
As you are reading the book ask your children questions such as ‘what animal will we see next?’ or ‘can you see any hidden animals in the pictures?’. What makes stories interesting for children is being involved, and answering questions in English is a great way for them to practice their speaking skills.
After reading the book we suggest that you continue your child’s learning journey by completing some more activities based on the story. The first one is to listen to the song version of the book which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25_u1GzruQM. Get your children to sing along and do the action verbs linked to the animals such as ‘shake’, ‘stomp’, and ‘swing’. After listening to the song you can return to the book and sing the words instead of just reading them – children will love the change in dynamic!
Another activity we recommend is to introduce props into the reading of the story. The book includes different common jungle animals. Perhaps you have these animals already in your home in the form of plastic animals or cuddly toys. To review the animal names, lay the toy animals out and ask your child to choose the animal you say the name of. Then you can read the book again and when an animal appears tell your child to pick up the correct toy animal. Repetition is key to language learning so the more your child says the name of the animals, or hears their names within a book, the more likely they are to remember them.
Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr.
This book is really good to learn animal names and colours. The story asks different animals what they can see, to which they answer another colourful animal. For example: ‘Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me. Red bird red bird what do you see? I see a yellow duck looking at me’. Here you can take a look at the video version of the story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek7j3huAApc.
This blog has some useful free activity ideas and printables related to the book: https://livingmontessorinow.com/montessori-monday-montessori-inspired-brown-bear-brown-bear-activities/. Another of our favourite activities related to this story is creating ‘colour baskets’. It’s super easy to do at home, just take a basket and make an image of one of the different coloured animals that appears in the book. Then, ask your child to find objects from within the house that are of the same colour. When finished you can review the names of the objects in English!
Another activity that involves getting some fresh air outside can be found at this link: https://preschoolinspirations.com/story-stones-with-free-printable/
Go outside, find some stones or rocks and paint or use markers to draw the different animals on to them! Children will find drawing on rocks different to the norm and therefore interesting. Once you paint all the animals see if your child can remember the sequence in which the animals appear in the book. Or practice colours again by asking your child to pass you a certain coloured animal. You could also check to see if they understand animal names by doing the same but asking for a certain animal. There are lots of activities to be done with such a small, everyday object, you just need to get creative!
There you have three of our favourite children’s books in English and some activities related to each one. Some of the activities you can adapt and relate to other books your children like. For example, it’s always a good idea to introduce props into storytime to keep children’s attention. And children will always love to watch the animated version of the book! The main thing when reading a story or completing an activity in English is to make sure your child is always talking. Ask them lots of questions, get them to think about what will happen next in the story.
Another great way to practice speaking is by signing up for some English classes online for children. Many kids feel more relaxed in the comfort of their own home and therefore feel less embarrassed when talking. Break Into English have some great options for children’s online classes and they offer free trial lessons for all new students so you can test their method.
TimTimTom Disclaimer: We have not tested the Break into English classes ourselves and we are not being paid for posting this article, however we do totally believe in the use of books and reading when helping a child to improve his or her language skills.