ESL teachers often struggle when planning for really young children with a very low level. How do you teach English to a toddler? What kind of vocabulary can they learn?
Body Parts is, of course, a fantastic starting point. Not only because you can easily use songs and movement to teach vocabulary, but also because young toddlers are very aware of their little bodies. Fortunately, This week we’re learning about body parts at La Casita de Inglés!
Here are a few ideas for teaching kids about the body, while also having fun in English.
Game: Mr. Potato Head
There is a reason this classic toy is still quite popular. Both children and adults love creating their own unique characters using Mr Potato Head, providing endless opportunities for building children’s speech and language skills through play. We recommend the Safari Themed Potato Head because it includes 2 potato heads, 2 mini potato heads and lots of accessories, including animal body parts for extra fun. Even the container is a giant potato head!
Body Parts, Senses and Body Part Functions, and Prepositions
To teach your students about the parts of the body using Mr. Potato head, have them find a specific part. For example, “let’s find Mr. Potato Head’s MOUTH.” Once they can identify the different parts, see if they can find the same body parts on themselves. For example, “here is Mr Potato Head’s ear. Where is your ear?”
To teach your students about the accessories, ask questions like, “find something you use for smiling (mouth),” or “what do you wear when you go outside? (hat or shoes).” For children that are a higher ESL level, get them to describe what they use their body parts for. For example, “what do you use your arms for?”
Try using prepositions like ‘in’ and ‘on’ while playing with Mr Potato Head! For example, try saying, “put his spare shoes in his back,” or “put his blue hat on.”
Below, we recommend a song (Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes), a game (Mr.Potato Head), and a book (Professor Astro Cat’s Human Body Odyssey)
Book: Look Inside your Body
Look inside your body is the perfect book for young readers who want to learn more about their body! The book covers topics from brains and blood all the way to senses and skin. Your students or little ones will love exploring the human body with this interactive book. Any young reader’s minds will be intrigued as they learn about how their brains work, what happens when they eat, how their lungs use oxygen, and much more!
Other book recommendations:
Craft: Mrs. and Mr. Potato Head
Add a Mr. Potato head craft after using the game! Allow your students to mix and match Mr. and Mrs. Potato head body parts in 2D. The kids will have a great time assembling their Potato Heads and in true Mr and Mrs Potato Head fashion… and the body parts may end up all over the place!
- Construction paper (red, brown, white, black, pink, blue, orange)
- Markers, pens, or pencils
- Glue sticks
- Stencils (linked)
- A printer
Before your students arrive, prep the materials by printing and cutting out Mr. Potato head’s body parts. By visiting the link above, you can download and use ready-to-go stencils. Print cut-outs directly onto colored construction paper to save some time!
After cutting out all of the parts, you may want to pre-glue the pupils onto the eyes as they are a bit small and may get lost easily. Then just bag up all of the parts necessary for each Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head pair. On the day of the craft, set out the bags of cut-outs, glue sticks, and yellow paper!
Recipe: Pizza Face
Mix and Match pizza ingredients to create a funny and edible pizza face! Creating an edible face is so much fun and very simple. It’s a great way for your students to learn what parts of the body form the face! For the older kids, you can make the recipe more interesting by assembling the sauce or pizza dough with them! Check the linked recipe for all ingredients, materials, and recipe details.
Pizza Topping Inspiration
- Hair: grated carrots or small steamed broccoli florets
- Eyes: cherry tomato halves or carrot circles
- Nose: green or red pepper triangle or canned pineapple chunk
- Mouth: green or red pepper strips or zucchini strips
- Teeth: canned pineapple chunks
- Ears: 2 center slices (from top down) of large white button mushroom, stem removed
Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
This song may seem like an obvious choice, but the classic tune offers endless possibilities!
Head, shoulders, knees and toes,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes,
Eyes and ears and mouth and nose,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes.
Repeat this verse three times, getting faster each time and make sure to use gestures while singing! As you sing- tap your Head, shoulders, knees, and toes! These moves are very simple, and catchy. The kids will pick them up quickly as they follow you.
Tips and Tricks for using the song in class
This song can be used as a fun, energy burner at any time but it is also a very nice way to teach parts of the body. Here are some ideas on using the song in your lessons:
Start by teaching the vocab. Prepare flashcards of the parts of the body used in “Head, Shoulders, knees, and Toes.” Slowly reveal each flashcard card and have your students touch the matching part on their own body (so, when you show the “head” flashcard, the students should touch their heads).
Practice the vocab. Lay the flashcards that you have just taught in front of you, facing your students (or lined up on the board). Randomly touch each card and have your students touch that part of their body and say the word. Do a final round with the cards in the correct order of the song (so they are basically doing a practice run of the song).
Play the song. Everyone stands up. As the song plays the teacher sings and does all the actions, touching each part of his/her body with two hands in time with the song. Make sure your students are following along. Each verse gets faster so by the last verse it will be frantic but great fun.
Play “Teacher Says.” This is the game “Simon Says” but using the word “teacher,” or your name, instead. Go straight into the game by saying “Teacher says touch your (knees).” Do the action and make sure everyone follows along. After a while your students will get the hang of it!
Here are some additional resources we’ll be using in the coming weeks!