Teaching Hacks: Lesson Planning for Primary

So if you are considering teaching in Spain or abroad in general, you may or not give a shit about changing children´s lives.  I know I didn´t.  I wanted to travel and I wanted an affordable way to do that.  I had no experience and I was a frantic mess my first year teaching.  Now I´ve got my flow down and nothing that my TEFL licence taught me actually helped. teach4

So I´ve been doing private classes with adults and children.  I´ll tell you my hacks for my primary kids.  My private classes are with 7-year-olds mostly.  I also teacher older and younger.  Comment if you want me to do another for adults or more advance primary.teach1

If you are a teacher you will need: a portable white board and markers, paper clips, a ball, plastine (play-doh), stamps, dice a folder and plenty of paper. I use this stuff at my school and private classes.

First, choose a theme.  I usually just mirror the book I use at my school.

Second, print flashcards.  Flashcards are the easiest way to teach.  It´s impossible to teach without them.  I tried.  It´s visual and it makes lesson planning easy.

Third, choose 8-12 vocabulary words.  12 is a good number because there´s a good chance they already know a lot of vocabulary so you can see what they do or don´t need help with.  Any more that 12 is overwhelming but any less depends on their level.

Fourth, choose a grammar point.  Grammar is really important and you have to focus on at least one per class.  If you have more advanced students you can choose two grammar points especially if you know the know it.


Lesson Plan Brainstorming

Now to planning.  I design my class with 2-3 vocabulary activities, 1-2 grammar practices and ¨project¨ to combine the two.

So let´s look at my class last week.  The theme is transportation and my grammar point is prepositions of place.  They know a lot of transportation so I will add road safety as an extra point.

I start the class with a greeting.  Sometimes a quick warm-up or just reviewing the flashcards.  When I review flashcards I don´t just say, What´s this?¨ I get a little more.  For transportation, who drives this?, Is it in the air or water?, where can you go in a bus? When were you in a boat? etc… I want them talking a bit.  I stretch this out to see where I need to work or not.

Warm ups: word domino (with the white board for example APPLEELEPHANTELEPHONE), scattergories, ABC´s (a word for each letter) or listing as many words as they can starting with a certain letter.

Then I have simple vocabulary games : Memory, plasticine or Play Doh (pick a card and mold it), dice (for emotions I had one dice be animal and the other emotions so you had to be a sad cow or a happy dog), board game (print up or look up printable board games for your target vocabulary), jeopardy, jumping (cards on floor they have to jump and say then at the end do rock, paper, scissors), word scrambles, pictionary or taboo (these are great for adults too).  I just mix it up every once in awhile to keep it interesting. I choose 2-3 of these and my lesson plan is half way done. They like these games so it’s okay to repeat and repeat with different vocabulary.

The harder part is figuring out how to teach a grammar point. I usually have to do a bit of research first. I avoid worksheets for younger students.  For older, it’s pretty necessary.  For prepositions of place, I used a paper airplane and a box they have to throw it and tell me where it went. I also had them use a chair to show me the prepositions with a ball. Or I set the flashcards out and sort of did Simon Says.  ¨Stand behind the helicopter, go between the tractor and car .¨etc…

For my extra point, about road safety, we did a song “Stop, Look, Listen.”  Then we played Red Light Green Light. Red Light Green Light went on for awhile so that was sort our “project” for one class.

Now lastly is the project.  The project is the thing all of the listen leads up to.  It’s supposed to be fun but also connect a few ideas together.  Make it something they look forward to. So I do a couple things.  For transportation, we had two projects.  First was just red light, green light.  It´s a game and it takes up a lot of time but it practices road safety.   I also printed a ambulance and they colored and cut a little ambulance.  I told them they didn´t need to make it yellow like the ones in Spain, just have fun.  In the past I´ve done origami, print outs, used the plasticine and little crafts.  Pinterest is your best friend when you are thinking of projects.  For primary students, I avoid writing a lot but for older students, yes writing and reading are important.  But I want to make the project as fun as I can.  So usually with primary, I default to crafts because I want to have fun.

 Do plan for review days every 3-5 units.  Review is important and  also easy to plan.  You just copy and paste from the previous lessons.  I use jeopardy for review days because it takes awhile, they love competing and I can do a variety of activities so no one is bored.teach2.gif

Yay or Nay TEFL Course

I don´t know what they made things seem so complicated in my TEFL course.  Everything I learned in that went out the window when I stepped into a classroom.  They made it sound like I needed to hit like 3-4 objectives per class.  No, choose two.  Don´t make it complicated and maybe add a third objective if you know they are familiar with one objective.  It´s okay to recycle things.  The kids don´t care and you don´t need to care that much. All of these seminars I did with BEDA was about innovating the classroom.  I don´t want to innovate shit.  I´m here to be in Europe and I want money.  If they kids like it I´m not going to make it complicated.  I’m not saying I’m a good teacher AT ALL if you care by all means go above and beyond.

Most of life is about putting in as little effort as possible but achieving results.  I have to plan so many classes so I´m going to be as lazy as possible.  I know, I´m not very inspiring but I hope this template for planning helps.  I wish I had something like this when I started.  The one they gave me for my TEFL is like: give me your thesis then create a plan to render desired results then make your students write an essay about it then critique if you achieved a practical goal for the class time provided.. (I´m over-exaggerating I know).  But just choose some vocabulary and a grammar point.  It’s that easy.  For higher levels, choose situations like airport security or shopping.

Websites I use: 

Dave’s ESL Cafe has a bunch of game ideas and it has job boards if you are looking for options.

Busyteacher.org has great articles with tons of ideas and all the free worksheets you can want.

ISLCollective has a bunch of stuff.

Youtube often has videos I’ll use.  For children I use songs.  For adults news or TedTalks.

There are a lot of websites to ESL teachers.  When you choose your vocabulary just enter in ___ ESL lesson for example transportation ESL lesson.  And you’ll get plenty of stuff.


Good luck!







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