Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Toothpaste Activity for watching our words

Last week I did a very fun activity with my class.  My class is very talkative and needs reminded often about watching their words.  Especially as ESL students they often do not realize what some things mean that they say!

Sooooooooooo. We did a group activity. For this activity you need a small bottle of toothpaste per group.  Honestly the other items are up to you!  The first time I saw this activity they used paper plates and toothpicks; one per group again.  But, I did not have paper plates so we used small plastic cups, 2 toothpicks, and a cotton ball.  

I used colgate because it was the cheapest here !

small cups (and you know what toothpicks and cotton balls look like!)

The first objective was to get all of the toothpaste out of its bottle into the plastic cup using only the materials provided.  I had the students brainstorm how they were going to do it.  Each group member had to participate.  I had them in groups of 4.  I also told them I was going to time them. (I did not tell them how to use the other materials... they had to decide themselves!) Then I set them off.  They did it in about 1 minute.  Easy stuff. Then we talked about what they had to do. 

I asked questions like:
- What was your strategy?
- Was this hard?
- Did you use teamwork?
- Did you need to communicate properly?

Then we moved on to the second goal which is to get all of the toothpaste back into the tube using only the materials provided.  The students had to brainstorm again.  Then I told them to begin.  I let them try it for 2 minutes and then stopped them.  Some were making some progress whereas others got no where.  With these materials, this is impossible to do!! (After I stopped them we threw everything away to get rid of the distractions and then chatted again)

I asked the same questions about strategy, teamwork, communication.  Then I asked if this was even possible to do.  They gave me lots of excuses and ways they could do it if they could change something.... but I always reminded them that they could not cut the toothpaste bottle open, or use a straw instead of a toothpick, or use a funnel or whatever else their brains came up with.  

Then I took the discussion much deeper.  We discussed how the toothpaste is just like our words.  Our words can easily fly out of our mouths just like this toothpaste. BUT putting our words back in is impossible. We also talked about how sometimes you only need a little toothpaste when you are brushing your teeth, just like sometimes you only need a few words.  We talked about using our words wisely and kindly to help others and not hurt them.  

All in all it was a fun activity that hopefully the kids will remember.  I can now remind them of the activity that we did and to watch their words.  It also helped them work on teamwork and problem solving skills!

** Just a couple notes if you are going to try it.  Make rules about not eating or putting on clothing.  Who knew that students would try to do this ;) Also, it might be good to put down paper or something on the desks. Again, who knew students could not get the toothpaste into the cup!**

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