Through the introductory routine, we have prepared the children for the up-coming lesson: we greeted, activated their brains, practised focusing and socialised.

We have chosen the project name and chose the picture book which introduced the theme of the project as well as all the topics that can be covered under the roof of the project. We did that through storytelling.

So, what's next?

It's time we took some relevant vocabulary to work with on different topics. 

In traditional teaching, the vocabulary is usually pre-selected, and children only need to memorise it.

Have you ever considered to offer children to select the vocabulary by themselves? You haven't? 
You may think I'm crazy because children don't know enough English! Or, how can they know what's relevant?

Well, how about if we try it now?

With the right activity, children can select their own vocabulary, no matter their level of English knowledge. Through pictures, of course. 

I call it ...


Children are given either a blank piece of paper or a black-and-white partly drawn picture, which is in some way connected to the theme of the picture book. That way we give children the context. Children are asked to finish their drawings themselves, individually. The way they like it.

The finished doodle is a selection of drawn objects children know, like, and/or are interested in. If you, as a teacher, would also like to introduce something that children have not drawn in the picture, and is relevant for the later steps, you may encourage them (via questions) to fill it in. 

A lot of revision of the already known vocabulary can be covered via doodling, as well as practising listening.

What else can we achieve through doodling?

Not only have we given children the control (autonomy) over their learning, because it was their choice what they wanted to draw (and in that we conveyed our trust in them), but we have also opened the first steps to literacy. Through the process of doodling, we addressed:
  • the pronunciation of the new vocabulary;
  • the connection between sounds and letters;
  • the awareness of the syllables;
  • the focus on spelling;
  • the introduction of articles and plural of nouns.

All that?! How?

While discussing the content of their drawings, children become familiar with the vocabulary.

"Can you find anything blue in your picture?"
(Children point to something blue)
"Do you know what it is?"

The connection between the sounds and the letters, the awareness of the syllables.

"Can you find a tree in the picture?"
(Children point to the tree)
"Can you recognise the first sound?"
(they say)
"How many claps for 'a tree'?"
(they clap the word)
"Can you find a picture of the tree in the Cool Alphabet House?
(they go and find it in the 'T' pocket)

Then we proceed to spelling and in that, we come upon plural of the nouns and articles.

Through doodling, we took the relevant vocabulary that we are going to use at our next steps and will make some new use of it. 

Of course, all will be written in my next posts.

If you want to be reminded of my next post, I suggest you sign up (see the top right 'follow by email', or put your email address on my list). This way you won't miss anything.

If you want to be introduced to my step by step approach in practice, you can sign up for my workshops

If you're not from Slovenia, there are other options:

  • workshops at different international conferences;
  • afternoon workshops at Pilgrims, the second week in July 2018;
  • I can come to you - for more information, contact me at info@c00lsch00l.eu.
  • If you believe the presentation of the PBA approach could benefit your teachers, I would be happy to hold a plenary at your conference ... just drop me a line.

The PBA, ELTA Serbia SIG Day, Joy of Teaching Young Learners, March 2018

Until then, you can read related themes:



In the 21st century teaching, STORYTELLING has become the teachers' No2 priority regardless of the students' age.

(No1 is gamifying). 

Whatever your life is, it is a story. A good one? A bad one? Well, you're the one creating it and therefore you're the one deciding about its plot, twists and endings. There are always the beginnings of different events that are building up to their climaxes and are slowly (or abruptly) resolving towards their resolutions.

In other words, stories are part of us, are natural to us. To make us feel better, we tailor our events to our happy endings or we find the villain to blame him/her for our misery. 

For educational or entertaining purposes, we invent stories of different genres.

To focus more specifically, the text below is focusing on YFLL classroom, where storytelling is specifically welcome. The reasons are many. I may not cover all of them but will definitely address some.  

THE PBA STAGE: Opening the project

The project always has a theme. Whatever your theme, there's bound to be a picture book that can be connected to the theme. 

The just question to ask yourself at this point (when introducing the theme to the young classroom) is, what background knowledge to the theme the children already have?

According to children's background knowledge, the picture book is chosen and the steps to storytelling are prepared. 

Naturally, there are different purposes of storytelling. Once you know what you want to achieve with it, there are some hints of how to approach storytelling. However, I hate to break it to you, but there is not one and the only fixed way how to do good storytelling. You simply have to make your own kilometres in practice, and slowly you'll get the feeling for it.

Bearing in mind that we're introducing the theme, the storytelling at this point has one specific goal: children need to get the gist of the plot.

Specifically, the teacher needs to be aware of:

  • children need to be in 'the mood' and 'prepared' for listening; 
  • storytelling is not story reading;
  • the words themselves are not important: children are 'reading' the illustrations, mood, body language and their own involvement;
  • the fluency of storytelling is of paramount importance;
  • it is good if there can be an immediate use of the story.
All of the above mentioned should be entwined in one storytelling lesson. 

Some hints, maybe?

The best way to understand the storytelling is to see some step-by-step storytelling live. I invite you to join my workshops, where at least one story is told, involving all the points mentioned above. Seeing and trying it is far better than only reading about it.

Nevertheless, there are some hints:

Being in a mood and prepared for listening

Putting it down plainly, that means preparing children's ears to register different sounds. An activity in which children enjoy (play) and at the same time use their hearing to execute the activity is recommended. Listening discrimination is an excellent way of achieving this (and is described in the post Positive Emotional Environment

If a teacher can incorporate some of the features of the story she/he intends to tell, all the better. That is especially important if some information needs to be presented to children before storytelling because it doesn't exist in children's background knowledge but is important for understanding the plot.

Storytelling is not story reading

Every story presented to the children should be tailored in a way to make it interesting. In that, every storyteller should adapt their interpretation and thus make it more 'alive' and 'present'. So, a storyteller should not be ignorant of acting.

The words themselves are not important

When only introducing the theme (at the first storytelling) understanding all the words used in storytelling is truly not important. Children are reading the pictures, listening to the storyteller's voice, body language and actions, and create their own logical connections among everything they hear, see, do, and have some prior knowledge of the topic. The important thing is that they get the gist of the plot.

The fluency of storytelling is of paramount importance

A good storyteller knows the story by heart and into all details. Only then can she/he interpret the plot and adapt it according to the listeners' current mood. 

It is good if there can be an immediate use of the story

After the storytelling, a game, tailored from the story, should be played. 

The follow-up activities are chosen according to what further use of the story a teacher has in the programme. Speaking practice? Literacy? Listening? 

As I have already mentioned before, all will be put down in my next posts.

If you want to be reminded when it is posted, I suggest you sign up (see the top right 'follow by email', or put your email address on my list). This way you won't miss anything.

Until then, you can read related themes:



Like everything in our lives so does the lesson need to have some way of starting. 

Let's name the starting of the lesson the introductory routine

Routine in a lesson is similar to habits; if you want to shape yourself in the desired way and achieve a lasting result, you need to repeatedly do things that will lead you to the desired consequences. In other words, you establish habits. 

The introduction to every lesson is, therefore, a habit, which consists of routinely performed activities that consequently lead to a permanent effect on children's lives: educational, social and personal.

You can choose what to include in the routine and shape your own desired effect on children, providing you know what you want to achieve, of course.

My introductory routine:
  • I want us to greet first, so we do the body counting (some sort of brain gym activity) and after that, we sing a 'hello' song. This way children also learn how to count (in a 'by the way' manner).

  • The next thing I want to do is 'prepare them' for the lesson. Children need to activate their brains, so we perform some brain gym activities into which I incorporate shapes. With rhythmical counting, while touching our limbs (in different places on our bodies), together with clapping, we outline different shapes. The shape-activity always ends in a sentence like 'It's a star.' (if the shape is a star).
  • The next activity in an introductory routine is a rhythmic game, with which children practice concentration and some language learning (vocabulary, articles, sentence structure) can be included. Since it is a game, the elements of a game are tailored into the activity to gamify it.  

  • If it is children's first contact with English, it is better to start with social games first, for establishing a positive emotional environment precedes academic learning.
  • The last activity that I use in the routine is so-called 'Poster Presentation'. In that, children present something that is relevant to the ongoing project and is gradually upgraded during the course of the project. With poster-presentation children practice speaking and reporting.

How long does it take to get through the routine?

I never rush. Usually, it takes 15 to 20 minutes. After that, we start the 'body' part of the lesson. 

After the routine, there's not much left of the lesson, is there?

If you plan to organise a 'Child-centred classroom, you cannot have a quality child-centred learning within a 45-minute session. You can rush through it and leave children bereft of internalising the process and only skim the topic for the vocabulary.  

There is a lot more to tell about the project stages. You can read all about it in my next posts. 

If you want to be reminded when it is posted, I suggest you sign up (see the top right 'follow by email', or put your email address on my list). This way you won't miss anything.

Until my next post, you can read related themes:



What is a project-based approach (PBA)?

It is a way of teaching, similar to CLIL, only with the language aims in mind when organising an activity or a task. Moreover, one of the primary focus of the learning process in the PBA is also socialisation. 

Since it is child-centred learning, the PBA is gradually shaping an independent learner. To achieve that, the aims are oriented in learning the process rather than the results/ information (as it is practised in traditional teaching). Once mastering the process, one may always find a way how to get to the results/information independently. 

Where's the catch?

There is no coursebook, workbook or exercise book. There can, however, be a teachers' guide (manual).

In traditional topic-based concept, the topics are covered one after another (for example, Let's meet, Clothes, Animals, Family etc.). Once you've closed one, children are evaluated, and then you move on.

In PBA, many topics are relevant throughout of the year and are entwined in different projects. Topics (the most straightforward ones are clothes, weather, and activities) are covered at each project, only the vocabulary is different.

What does the manual provide?

The manual provides the essential frame of the PBA, which are the steps in approaching the project and how to organise the activities to address socialisation and child-centred learning.

There is not one manual published yet (at least not the one for the PBA I advocate and practice). But, there is this blog that gives some insides, and there are courses, which you can attend to get some practical experience about the PBA. There is, however, the manual in the writing process.

Let me give you a rough programme-frame of the PBA, just to see the idea.

The PBA programme-frame


It is of paramount importance that the teacher him/herself is an independent learner. In that, he/she has the experience of how to learn independently and is, therefore, more open to the presented way of teaching. 

A teacher chooses a project in which different topics are synergetically entwined under the same theme. Also, it is a teacher's job to find/ select the aims and organise the activities through which the aims are addressed.The practice has shown that for the students, the age of six to eight, a yearly cycle of the seasons works excellent.

The concept of the lesson-planning is based on the fixed structure. There are the introduction, body, and conclusion, but have slightly different aims in comparison to the traditional teaching:

The introduction consists of the set of activities wrapped in an introductory routine. Activities are based on the topics, which can be followed throughout the year. Every activity has aims that it covers. For example:
  • Greeting with a 'body count' and/or 'shapes' (aims: warm up with brain gym, greeting, introducing numbers and shapes).
  • Games for socialisation (aims: ice-breaking, establishing connection)
  • Rhythmic game (aims: concentration, vocabulary and/or grammar practice)
  • Poster presentation 'about me', 'about today' (aims: speaking practice)
The body executes the activities of the stages in the project (will be described in detail in my next posts).

The conclusion is a reflection on work and self-evaluation.


There is a lot to tell about those project stages. You can read all about it in my next posts. 

If you want to be reminded when it is posted, I suggest you sign up (see the top right 'follow by email', or put your email address on my list). This way you won't miss anything.

Until my next post, you can read related themes: