Creative people with ADHD are always looking for something new to try. So I don’t like doing or saying the same things week after week, but sometimes that’s what children need, especially when they’re young. For example, I thought they’d be bored after a couple of weeks of my asking each of them individually “Are you ready?”, but I found that not only do 1st and 2nd grade classes like it, they started to join me. They think it’s funny, but I think it’s great. Kids love to repeat what we say, and it’s a great way for them to learn new words and phrases. That’s why songs, chants and games with repetitive short phrases work so well.
I hoped the same thing would happen when I played my adapted version of “Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?” with the 3rd grade while teaching school supplies. For those of you who haven’t been to one of my workshops or used my materials –
- All children close their eyes and put their hands behind their backs.
- The teacher puts items from the pencil case – pencil, eraser, scissors, glue – in their hands. It isn’t necessary for every child to be given an object.
- Children open their eyes but hands remain behind their backs, even if they’re empty.
- Begin by asking. “Who stole the (object) from the pencil case?”. Continue “(name) stole the (object), etc.” as in the original game (“Who, me?” “Yes, you!” “Couldn’t be!” “Then who”).
- Each round continues until someone guesses which child is holding the object mentioned.
The object, of course, is to practice speaking along with learning some new words. But I found that although the same phrases were repeated again and again, I really had to encourage them to join me.They knew the words, but mimicking the teacher isn’t automatic at this age.
Something else happens when we get to 5th grade. I often use songs that they request in addition to my own. Although they like hearing them and even learning the lyrics, I don’t always hear them singing. But if I look around the room I can see lips moving, and I’ve had students tell me that the song we learned last week is still stuck in their head. This is exactly what I want, since the words usually stick there too. I even had a 9th grade student walk into class singing “Hello Everybody” which I opened lessons with when I taught her in 6th grade.
Children, like adults, have some annoying habits. Some of them can disrupt lessons, but sometimes these habits are the best way to learn.