Rhythm Sticks

Again, the Jbary ladies have another great song using Rhythm Sticks. Here they use the same song from This is the way… except using different action verbs with the sticks. Easy to learn, fun to do, and even the children can come up with their own verses.

Their ideas came from Kendra at: http://klmpeace.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/toddler-storytime-rhythm-sticks/

This blog entry is worth a read. She explains very well the different activities and songs that can combined with rhythm sticks. Being in Russia, I often have to make do with out many things. We take for granted how easy it is to buy supplies in America.So for these songs I am using pencils. They aren’t as long, as thick or have that great wood sound like these sticks. But, they are still fun to beat on things.


Faster, slower, louder, quieter…

These girls have a great collection of videos online. Just like the Baby Brain Play videos, these are excellent chants / songs to do with small children. They have repetitive action that engages all of the child. The chants are easy to learn so parents can learn them too and repeat at home.

Once we’ve learned our Opposites, we then can move to these comparative words. Basically adding (-er) to the ending of adjectives we already know:

  • bigger
  • smaller
  • faster
  • slower
  • louder
  • quieter

I use these throughout the lesson. No matter what we are doing, the student can repeat a word back to me, and then I say, Say it LOUDER! When we are building something, I say Build it BIGGER!

It’s very easy then to show using just my hands and voice:

  • taller
  • shorter
  • higher
  • lower
  • happier
  • sadder

And we can add sticks (or in my case, pencils) for more hands-on fun.

This is the way…

Daily Routines – every age level has this lesson. My adult students work from the Cambridge English Vocabulary in Use . My older children build out their own schedules. My youngest students get this song)

This song and dance combine the verb + noun and an easy to recognize action. I try to incorporate a bit of sign language with my younger students to give them context clues. I arrive and say, I must wash my hands, while rubbing my hands together. The song format makes it very easy for you to add your own words and actions. The kids can even add their own.


Key phrases

There are three key phrases I teach all my beginning students, regardless of age.

I don’t know!


Number 1 on my list. I want my students to speak English as much as they can. I would rather them say I don’t know over and over again, then for them to answer me in their native language. I teach them in the very first lesson how to throw up a shrug, stick on the bottom lip and mumble IdunnOh. I want to teach them it’s OK to make mistakes and it’s OK to not know. That’s why we have lessons.

What’s this? It’s a…



The most basic sentence structure is noun + verb. I like my students to ask questions, to explore the language in their own way. This is true of children or adult of any age. Like I don’t know I want them to use English as often as I can. Teaching this phrase early on allows them to stay in English even when they don’t know what something is called. I teach this phrase through ad-nauseam, like most of my phrases. I also use the exact same intonation every time.  I also do not worry about plurals or singulars (What’s this?  vs. What are these?). Even toddlers learn to mimic this question.

After they have learned this, then I add the correct demonstrative adjectives (this, that, these, those).

What are you doing? I’m —ing.


We need some verbs to go with our nouns. The most commonly used verb tense, although not the easiest, is Present Continuous. This is what we use to say what we are doing right now. Action verbs are the most relatable, easiest to show, and the most fun to do.

Once we’ve learned this form, we can begin to build our vocabulary with different verbs.

That’s it!

Now we know how to make a basic noun + verb sentence and I don’t know how to fill in the gaps. We build from there.

Baby Brain Play

It might surprise some people to know that I have quite a few clients under the age of 2 years old. Many people have asked me, what’s the benefit of teaching a foreign language to a child before they can even speak their own language?

We introduce our children to language before they are even born. Their hearing develops in utero and are born with the ability to recognize the sound of their mother. Children might not begin speaking for a year or so, but their first words come from listening constantly to the sounds around them.

Children begin to recognize the differences between sounds we make with our mouths with sounds we use for speech around 9 months old. They then begin using these sounds to string together words that sound like the words Mommy says.

Beginning with a child at or before this age means the English phonemes find their way into their first words. They mimic and practice and their vocal chords strengthen.

Many of my clients hope for their child that they will develop real, accent-less English. My single biggest piece of advice to parents that want this is: TALK TO THEM. Constantly. Let them hear Mommy making the sounds. A child’s most influential teacher is their mother.

But for many of my clients, they themselves don’t have the language skill they hope for their child, so how can they possibly teach them?  Balderdash, is what I say to that. Any parent that has a strong desire will find a way. The English doesn’t have to be perfect or deep in level. Learn a few songs, a few commands. Repeat them often! Watch cartoons and educational programming. Do it often! Real learning comes from constant repetition. Result with infants never come fast. But they come to those who are vigilant.

This video series, Baby Brain Play is a game I play with my own child. It is a chance for us to “exercise” or for Russians “massage” while engaging them in song. These are classic English children’s songs that can be repeated up into their toddler years.

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