Language is something we teach every day; however, "shades of meaning" in language is not. Sometimes, I find it hard to fit such specific instruction into my language lessons. I have found that doing activities like this makes it easier to fit such specific skills into everyday language activities. Explicit planning is required!
I love games and my students love brain breaks. With that being said, I created a brain break (movement) game to help us incorporate shades of meaning. That way, no matter what I teach during my 'language block' throughout the year, I feel confident that I have taught shades of meaning multiple times. Students grasp the language concepts through multiple practice and experience.
This lesson/game will be taught in the whole group setting and it will occur between lessons. I like to use this game as a learning tool, but one that is done as a "brain break," so it isn't overused or under-appreciated.
"You guys have been working so hard! Now, we are going to take a brain break! But... this isn't just any brain break... This is called "Shake it in Shades." In order to play this game, we have to learn what it is first. So, turn your listening ears on and let's learn about this new, fun game! This game is called "Shake It In Shades," as I said. Let me tell you why we call it that. Two things happen when we play this game: 1) we shake, we move and we get our wiggles out. 2) we listen to and act out shades of meaning. Can you say, 'We will act out shades of meaning?'"
(Students will say, "We will act out shades of meaning.")
At this point, I will pull out my Shake it in shades game reference chart to use as I talk to the students.
Attached here is a great introductory video where students can see how they are supposed to act words out when they hear them! A cartoon dog will show the students how to act out verbs, just like I expect them to be doing shortly!
"Yes. Shades of meaning is just small differences between words. Let me show you an example. I will stand up straight... now I will stand up tall. See how they are similar? But, the words gave me the clue for what exactly I should do! Let me show you one more. I can hop... Then, I can jump. Did you see again that they were similar, but not the same?" (Students will say yes or nod.) "When we practice shades of meaning, we have to listen for what to do and think about the small differences between words. Do you think you're ready to try?"
(Students will respond, "Yes." After all, they love getting up and moving.)
"I want you to try to walk... Good. Now, strut... (show them) When you strut, you just walk with longer strides. Now... hmm... Let's march... Now, stomp... STOP! See how they are close movements but they are still different? Let's keep moving. Now it's your turn!
Here, I use words such as leap, stride... spin, twirl... shake, swivel... jump, hop, etc. They love to look at each other for examples. Every time they do a new thing, they will look at each other to learn!
**Here is a video of my students acting out the verbs in The Polar Express! I like to take books that have plots students can act out and use them in this way. This is a simple extension of this game and it is something I don't really have to plan for!
This task is pretty easy to assess; I watch!
Throughout each time we play this game, I really pay attention to the students who are independently creating the proper movements. I also take note of students who are looking to others for guidance; I move closer to those students and also attempt to help them throughout the game.
Sometimes, I have students write about certain verbs and then draw matching illustrations. I love to do this when we are 1) working on verbs, or 2) have a little extra time. After all, I can check and see if students who write about a word have a matching illustration, while they are also enjoying writing about something fun!
I check, for example, to see if a student who wrote, "I can swivel." can draw a picture of them looking like they are swiveling. If I am unable to understand their illustration, I can always have them make the moves!
Here is a list I like to use that has fun verbs to act out!
Every time I read a story that has movement words in it (and even when I teach position and location words in math), I play this game and add new movements.
I play this game throughout the year.
By the end of the year, I even let students lead others in the game.
I use the small reference chart (attached) sometimes to have students be the guide.
My students love playing this game throughout the year and really enjoy LISTENING for the directions of what exactly they need to do.
Making students like listening is always a good thing!