I think this lesson could be easily adapted to the study of different legends and customs of a country. There can be also a variation that addresses history over time. The lesson uses pantomime skills, research skills, and information sharing, as well as knowledge of the subject matter. This is a basic teacher-in-role exercise. This plan has been written in the form of a narrative-a description of the class-rather than giving you step-by-step instructions, because it makes better sense. Every teacher has her or his own style.
I told my students the name of the lesson--"Around The World in Thirty Minutes." I explained that we would shortly be enacting a worldwide tour of the world. I asked each student to choose his favorite country or continent. I told them that they would be pretending to be someone or something in that country. I, and a friend, would be making the tour of the world, and in each country we visited, the students in that country would pretend to be animals, people, or things that a visitor in that country would be likely to see.
Many of the students chose countries about which they knew little. Some chose countries they have learnt about through the Comenius Project. Some chose places that just sounded exciting. But the long and short of it was that some of them didn't know what a tourist would be likely to find in the country of their choice. That was exactly what I had hoped would happen. We had a class discussion about the problem. Each student in turn told the group what country or continent he had chosen, and I asked if anyone knew what kinds of things might be found there. In many cases, the student's classmates had great suggestions. But some of them had chosen countries nobody knew much about. So I brought out some reference books and we also used internet resources. (I have an excellent children's atlas, which includes maps with pictures of animals, landmarks, industries, etc that the students loved looking at.) The group researched the countries enthusiastically, and after about ten or fifteen minutes, every student had decided what or who he/she was going to pretend to be.
I arranged the students around the classroom. Some countries were represented by more than one student (especially the ones from The Comenius Group), but that was fine. Each country or continent had its own place in the room. I explained that it would be impossible to travel to all the countries in thirty minutes, if it were not for my Supersonic Transport. (I used a wheeled swivel chair.) I brought out a Muppet-style puppet which I use in other lessons. I explained that "Oliver" and I would be making the trip together. (Obviously one could do this lesson without the puppet.)
I sat in my chair and wheeled myself and Oliver to the first country. The puppet and I Ooohed and Aaahed at the sights we saw there. Usually I was able to correctly guess what the students were pretending to be, but when I wasn't, they were not offended, and were quick to give me hints until I did. After I had finished in the first country, I asked the students which other country was the closest. They had to think about this one, but we always came to a decision. In this way they learned and used their knowledge of geography. Sometimes I had to help. Once we decided which country was closest, I moved on to that country and continued in this way until I had visited everybody. Then I "came home."
After the trip was over, we sat in a circle, and I asked each student to mention one thing he learned that he hadn't known before. Every one was able to come up with something.
This lesson worked extremely well.
I haven't tried this, but I think it would work: Instead of traveling from country to country, we would travel from time period to time period or travel from legend to legend in different countries. The people in each period could interact with the travelers--who could be students, rather than the instructor--as much or as little as time and the sophistication of the students allowed.
written by Ioana