The EFL Playhouse: A Resource for ESL/EFL Teachers of Young Learners

My Favorite Mobile

Objective: Students identify their favorite objects.
Group Size: any (at least one teacher or assistant is needed for every fifteen students)
Prep Time: ~ 5 minutes
Activity Time: about one hour total
Interest Level: ages 3 to 10
Ability Level: beginning

Preparation: Teach the word "favorite." Discuss in relation to previously acquired language.

Materials Needed:
one clothes hanger per child
yarn or string
hole punch
card stock (3 x 5 or larger)
safety scissors
old magazines, catalogs, and/or sales flyers

Activity: Ask each child to think of four or five favorite objects (color, sport, toy, and two foods work well). The child will then use these objects to create his or her mobile. Two approaches work well for the actual creation. In a small class, you may have all students work on the same object at the same time. (i.e. Everyone does a color card; then, everyone does a sport card, etc.) In a larger class or in a class where you have one or more assistants, students may work in small groups. This approach is most useful when materials are limited. For instance, you may not have enough catalogs for twenty students to cut out pictures of their favorite toys at one time; however, five could work on this aspect of the project while remaining students work on other items.) Following are some specific ideas for the items mentioned above:

Color: This is the simplest item to complete. Either provide students with colored paper and let them cut out a piece of their favorite, or provide them with white cardstock and crayons and let them color their favorite shape. For added interest, students may cut the colored card into any shape they choose. On the back of the colored paper or card, the student may print the name of his or her favorite color. (Very young learners will require assistance.)

Sport: If possible, ask parents to supply a picture of their child engaged in a favorite sport. Picture may be mounted on colored paper, and the name of the sport written on the back. If pictures are not available, photocopy simple line drawings of a football, a soccer ball, a basket ball, a baseball, a tennis racquet, someone swimming or a swimsuit, someone running or running shoes, etc. Students can choose their favorite sport and color the  picture of a related item. After coloring, students may cut around their pictures, paste on heavy paper or cardstock, label back correctly, holepunch at top, insert string, and add to mobile.

Toy: Christmas catalogs from major mail-order houses (J.C. Penny, Sears, Spiegel, etc.) provide a wonderful resource for toys. Children can cut their favorite, paste on heavy stock, and add to mobile. You will need to set a time limit on the catalog browsing, as many children will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices. Another option is to have each child draw a picture of his or her favorite toy. Some drawings may require interpretation, but the English label on the back of the item should help. (And remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder....)

Food: Remember those annoying sale papers that clutter your mailbox and litter the floors of most apartment buildings? Collect them if they have pictures of food items. Students may cut out their favorites, paste, label, and attach as described above. Junk mail really DOES serve a purpose (well, sometimes...)!

Recommendation: This activity is rather long for young students. However, if you'll allow ten to fifteen minutes per day, you should be able to complete the project in a week. The repetition also helps students master the concept involved.

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