Identifying body parts is among one of the first language learning exercises for young children. Kids will probably know a lot of the words for body parts before starting school as they will have come up in everyday language at home. However, fun kindergarten and early school activities reinforce their knowledge as well as ensure that all of the group are at the same level.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Place a picture of a body, or skeleton, along with the words for the body parts, on an overhead projector. The British Council website provides a print out of a skeleton with matching body part words that is ideal. Get the children to help you match the words to the correct body parts.
Use body part vocabulary flash cards to help the kids remember the names and which part of the body they refer to. A fun way of doing this is to make small flash cards with the body (and face) parts printed on them and lay them out on a table or desk near the front of the room. Stick a piece of adhesive to the top of each flash card. Now ask a volunteer to stand at the front of the room. Taking turns, the class members stick the flash cards to the corresponding body part on their live volunteer.
Sing a body part song that the kids can join in with to further aid their retention of the vocabulary. Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes is probably the most well known song of this type. The Dream English website has an MP3 download of the song along with a flash card print out that can be used with it. Print the large picture flash cards on firm cards so that they stay upright as you continuously shuffle the front card to the back throughout the song, thereby highlighting each body part with a picture as it comes up in the song. Alternatively, do the traditional movements to the song, which is simply touching the body parts as they are mentioned.
Tips and warnings
- Although these are children's activities, similar ones can be used for teaching English as a second language. Picture labelling, flash cards and songs are just as effective for older students.
- Be aware of cultural sensitivities (especially if you are teaching English as a second language in a different country to your own) when deciding whether to allow touching as part of the learning experience.
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