Thinking Child aims to produce creative resources and training opportunities for colleagues, children and parents. They have generously provided TA Focus with helpful guides for Teaching Assistants. Please read, share and give us any feedback on further topics you would like to know more about.
Group Activity Ideas for Teaching Assistants
It is often a challenge to think of engaging activities for group situations; ones that have a clear learning outcome as well. I always believe that if children are supported to think and talk in a structured way then learning is most likely to be taking place.
These are a few ideas that could be used and adapted for small group/guided sessions – linked to literacy/speaking & listening outcomes.
Play a short music track (music without words is easier).
Ask children to close their eyes and visualise whilst it is playing – they are not to speak until the music ends:
• Where can you see?
• What colours do you think of?
• Who is in your ‘picture’?
• Imagine two characters in your place – how do they feel?
• What is the body language between your characters?
• What mood are they in?
• What happens next?
Then give children time to work in pairs and small groups to ‘swap’ stories.
An extension to this might be to ask children to match a favourite piece of music to a picture book they know. They could have that music playing softly in the background as they read it aloud to a partner or a group of younger children.
Quick fire questions to think and talk about: This requires children to listen carefully to each other, structure a proper ‘conversation’ and give clear reasons for their thinking.
• When were you last frightened? Why? (this could also be excited / jealous / nervous)
• What’s the worst thing you’ve heard this year?
• What’s been the most waste of time?
• What have been the most important bits of learning?
Ask children to browse and choose a picture book they like. Give them time to properly practise reading it out loud – they need to pay attention to which pictures they will focus on and which ones to actually show their classmates. They will need to think about their expression – linked to punctuation, voices of characters etc.
Then let children read their books aloud to each other – the ‘test’ is whether they entertain each other.
Make up a large ‘feely bag’ with a range of random objects.
Children have to put their hands into the bag and without looking, feel one of the objects in detail. Provide some strips of card. Children have to write down their top 5 five words on cards to describe what they have just felt.
Ask another group of children to do the same but they are allowed to look at the objects as well. Compare the vocabulary from each group.
Random Pictures – Guide the artist
Children have to think of some random things and write them on small cards (you could limit it to things they might see in school).
Working in pairs, one child picks a card and reads it without their partner seeing it.
They then have to ‘instruct’ the other to draw it – without naming it in anyway. E.g. If the word ‘chair’ is on a card:
‘Draw a straight horizontal line three quarters up the page, about 10 centimetres long and in the middle of the paper. From each end of that line draw a line going down….. ‘
Sentence Finishers – What kind of person are you?
How well do children really know each other?
Ask them to work with someone they trust and finish off these sentences:
• If I can see someone getting angry with me I…..
• Just before going to sleep I…
• When something scares me I…
• When I am faced with a new challenge, something I’ve never done before I…
• As soon as I get home I …
• When I am asked to do something I don’t enjoy I …
Children can make up their own sentence starters and you can have a constructive discussion about managing your own behaviour.
You can ask them to ‘report back’ on their partner – what kind of person are they? Have they learnt something about them that they didn’t know before?