Hit the Picture & the Magic Box: Creative TPR Games with Very Young Learners, Part 1 by Nevena Živković

Hello, my dear educators! Have you ever wondered how can you teach very young learners and what are some effective games you can play? The next few posts will be guests posts from Nevena Živković, an amazing preschool teacher from Novi Sad, Serbia, who also teaches English to very young learners in a public preschool! She is not an English teacher and she completed a professional development program in order to teach them English. Her games are shared unedited, as she wrote them! Nevena’s work is outstanding and her English level is brilliant for a person who learned English as a hobby!

Hit the picture

We developed this game to assess the knowledge of the learners. We have paper cards that we use to draw pictures of words we learn in our new songs, games, stories, etc. If we have older children, they draw the cards. If not, a teacher does it. You can also print flashcards from the internet.

After singing a song or reading a story I tell them to draw pictures of new words. Then we put the flashcards in a circle and two children compete entering the circle with flycatchers, while the child standing outside the circle gives tasks to the other kids. In this activity, we have three children actively participating, and the others are outside the circle, waiting for their turn, singing songs that we use to choose another three players by counting.

Then what happens?

When children get to their places, the child who gave the task has to recite a song. All the children in the circle are singing the song and the child that counts goes around the circle. With that one song, they choose the first player (when the song stops and the counting also stops on one child). They choose the other child the same way. They stay in the circle with flycatchers.

The lead child says a word (a term found on one of the flashcards). The child who first notices this card needs to hit the card with a flycatcher. The child who “loses” stands in a circle with the other children and depending on the word in question, the children sing a new song that must contain the word from the flashcard. That’s how they choose a new player who will enter the circle (chosen by the child who lost).

The game continues as a new player enters the circle and the child who assigns re-assigns some new term found on the cards on the floor. This is one of the easiest games for very young learners and it will keep them active all the time!

games very young learners

This game is great for assessment. The children like to play it independently, and they are even divided into two circles (depending on the space in which we are and the total number of children). Sometimes we make two circles for new and old words. In one game that lasts 15-20 minutes, a dozen songs are repeated.

games very young learners

This game also has its modification. When a small group of children is interested, we arrange the pictures on the table and the children move around the table singing a song. When the song stops, the teacher (or a child) asks for the word, and the child who first hits the picture with his palm is the winner. The game continues and it is interesting to move around the table, which additionally motivates the children to stay in the game

The magic box

games very young learners

This game is played by two children by putting their hands in a magic box that has two holes provided for it, which contains toys or for example, fruits or vegetables. The teacher or the other child gives a task by saying which object they need to find in the box. If they take out the wrong item, the child is asked to say what he took out of the box. If the child pulls out the right item, he wins. Another child enters the game with the winner. The game is also great for assessment.

Nevena Živković games very young learners

Nevena Živković is a state-licensed preschool teacher. She completed the philological grammar school in Sremski Karlovci. After that, she continued her education and got a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She worked as a preschool teacher in a children’s hospital and a private preschool. Professional development is one of her passions. She is very invested in advancing her competencies by attending accredited professional development training. She is the administrator of a Facebook group ’’Bunjara’’. This group has over 30.000 members and teachers use it to share creative activities for children.

She was the organizer and the presenter at a conference ’’Bunjarci’’ where she talked about teaching English to very young learners in a preschool setting. She enjoys using the NCT method of learning, and she also plays the guitar, sings, and acts in her classroom. Her next step is publishing a book related to learning about countries around the world through songs she developed.

To conclude

What do you think about using these interesting TPR games for very young learners? Do you have any experience that you would like to share? Please write in the comments or via the contact page, I would love to hear your opinion!

P.S. Further reading resources

Check out two posts by my dear colleagues with flashcard games!

  1. Flashcard games for very young ESL/EFL kids that REALLY work by Fiona Hunter
  2. 9 fun flashcard games for primary classes by Michelle Worgan
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About Alice Glass

Alice is a 29 years old preschool teacher (Pre-K) with a B.Ed. She is currently enrolled in her Master's studies, with a double major, one of them being English teaching methodology. She is also an online ESL teacher and blog writer for the British Council. Last but not least, she is the mother of a very energetic toddler.

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