“I am Special” – An ESL writing activity

Today I am going to share a little project with you that I like to do from time to time at the start of the school year. It’s called the “I am Special” project and I use it to expand my students’ ability to talk about themselves and to add in some positive vibes right at the start of the term.

The photos that I am including in this post come from last year’s project and what’s great is that I got a lot of help from Twinkl. If you have not heard of Twinkl (you can thank me later!) it’s an online platform that provides worksheets for teachers, students and homeschoolers at a yearly price. You can get it for free, but in my experience as a teacher, it’s not enough and I had to move up to a yearly subscription.

What I found really useful about Twinkl is that most of their worksheets are differentiated! And if you are a teacher, I am SURE that you’ve had that word drilled into your head for the last few years. ALL schools are looking for teachers that are willing to differentiate in the classroom and yet no one can seem to tell you how to do that without working nonstop night and day...Right! Well, that’s where Twinkl comes in – You pick a subject (and I mean ANY subject) and hone in on a specific area. Once you find what you’re looking for you’ll more than likely have at least 3 options (easy, intermediate and difficult) to choose from. Simple! AND, your students will all be working on a worksheet that looks similar – so no more – “Oh, yours is so easy!” or “Hey, why is mine so much harder than so and so’s?”

Here’s a simple rundown of how I run this class:

Introduction: Gobo (my puppet) comes out and starts talking about the fact that he is not sure if he is special or not. I reassure him that he is and talk about how everyone is special, even when we are not so nice or when we do things that we’re not supposed to, etc….

I will then get into a conversation with my students about what makes them different from one another. What do they look like? Does everyone look the same? This is where we’ll talk about our facial features, hair color, etc. and the things that make us special visually.

Next, I’ll introduce the “I am Special” poem from Twinkl. We will help Gobo fill one out his poetry worksheet whole group (that means that the whole class helps in this) and then I’ll have the class break into partners to fill in their own worksheets and I’ll also ask them to make a self portrait (a rough draft) on the back of their worksheets when they are done. I like the partners to consist of at least one person that can manage the activity on their own. Or, two students that will at least give it their best shot. Remember, since the activity is differentiated, some students will have a word bank to work from, which helps a lot. Also, I will have left our Whole Group poem (Gobo’s poem) on the interactive white board.

As the students are working I will walk around the room helping the partners who need assistance. As soon as I see students working on their portraits I’ll know that I can check their work too.

During out next lesson I will ask the students what it means to be special, who is special and how they themselves are special. All of this will have already been discussed in our first lesson and so it will be a good starting point for our second class.

This is also a time where I’ll pass out their work and ask if anyone would be willing to share their poems so far. I usually have a lot of volunteers, so this can take a few minutes.

Next, I will show the students an example of a finished poem (which will be handwritten on another piece of paper) and a completed self portrait. At this point I will have several piles of construction paper that is of different size and color that will be used for the writing and drawing part of this project. My students (if they’re ready) will receive their materials and get right to work either reviewing and editing their poems or starting their first or final drafts of their self portraits.

What I like to do is give a check mark to the poetry rough drafts. Once a student receives that, they’ll know that they can take a specific piece of construction paper and get to work writing out their final drafts. I use the same method for the art work too. If a child has a check mark on the rough draft of their self portrait, they’ll know that they can take a specific piece of construction paper to begin the final draft of their portraits.

I like working this way because it help the students to know that work is all about PROGRESS and that a rough draft is meant to be worked on before finally moving on to the finished project.

In addition to the activities that I already mentioned, I usually always add a picture book to read from that connects to our project and we, of course, always start and end our lessons by singing songs. At the very end of our project Gobo is usually invited back to see our work.

They just love impressing him :)

Please let us know if you try this project out or what you think of Twinkl.

Wishing you a nice day,


ESL writing activity

“1,2,3,4,5, once I caught a fish alive!”

Gobo is fishing!
Gobo is fishing!

Élèves de CP, voici une superbe vidéo qui va avec la nouvelle chanson que nous avons récemment appris . Vous y trouverez un petit garçon assis dans un bateau, vous pouvez chanter avec lui? J’espère que vous allez tous attraper quelques poissons ! ☺️

À bientôt!

Just speak,
Mme Browne et Gobo

CP students, here’s a great new video that goes along with the new song that we recently learned. In it you’ll find a little boy sitting in a boat, will you sing along with him?  I hope that you all catch some fish! ☺️

See you soon!

Just speak,
Mrs. Browne and Gobo



One of my students invited Gobo to stay at his house this past Tuesday :) Gobo had to decline the offer because he’s too young to leave his family behind but he did write his friend a thank you note. Could this situation get any cuter? :)

Have a nice evening,

p.s. For those of you that are new to this blog, Gobo is our classroom puppet.

Saying goodbye to La Ciotat

La Ciotat,
La Ciotat,

Bonjour tout le monde!

C’était très triste de dire au revoir à mes élèves, leurs parents et leurs nounous à La Ciotat en Juin dernier. J’ai passé deux années fantastiques à enseigner à Petits Pieds Grands Pas et j’espère que je serai en mesure de rester en contact avec mes élèves et leurs familles à travers ce site web.

Je voudrais saisir cette occasion pour remercier tout le monde pour leurs lettres, chocolats et dessins lors de mon dernier jour. Je tiens à vous remercier de votre soutien constant pour mon travail, de vos sourires sans fin, de vos encouragements et d’avoir pris le temps d’amener vos enfants semaine après semaine. J’ai eu le plaisir de passer du temps avec vous et de voir l’enthousiasme et l’intérêt de vos enfants dans la langue anglaise.

Pour l’instant, Learn and Play en Anglais est officiellement en vacances mais je vais de temps en temps poster une activité amusante que je pense vous aimerez faire à la maison. Concernant le travail, je tiens à vous faire savoir que j’ai obtenu un poste dans une école ici à Bordeaux. J’ai l’intention de continuer ce que je fais dans une école et de proposer des stages durant les vacances scolaires.

Donc, j’espère pouvoir continuer à travailler sur Learn and Play en Anglais pour essayer d’en faire un endroit où l’expérience de la langue anglaise se fait dans un cadre ludique.

Merci encore à tous mes petits élèves! Vous étiez fantastique!



Hello Everyone!

It was VERY sad saying goodbye to my students, their parents and their nannies in La Ciotat this past June. I spent two fantastic years teaching at Petit Pieds Grands Pas and  it is my hope that I will be able to keep in touch with my students and their families through this website.

I’d like to take this time to thank everyone for their letters, chocolate and artwork on my last day. Mostly though, I’d like to thank you all for your constant support of my work, for your never ending smiles, for your encouragement and for taking out the time to bring your children to my class week after week. It was a pleasure to spend time with all of you and to see your children’s enthusiasm and interest in the English language grow.

As for now, Learn and Play en Anglais is officially on vacation but I will pop up from time to time to post a fun activity that I think you might like doing at home. As for work, I’d like to let you know that I’ve acquired a job teaching English in a school here in Bordeaux. I plan on continuing what I do in a school setting and to also delve into the area of “des stages” during school holidays.

So please know that I will still continue working on building Learn and Play en Anglais to try to make it an even better place to experience the English language in a playful setting.

Thank you again to all of my little students! You guys were fantastic!

Just Speak,


self-portraits / des auto-portraits


Bonjour à tous,

Voici un petit projet sur lequel nous avons travaillé lors des deux dernière semaines durant notre Maternelle club. Il consiste à faire des auto-portraits:)

Après avoir imprimé des photos du visage de chacun de mes élèves, je les ai coupées soigneusement en deux puis plastifiées (ce qui permet à mes élèves d’être en mesure de répéter le projet plusieurs fois sans endommager leurs photos).

La deuxième partie de notre projet consistait à s’intéresser de près à chaque visage et à parler des formes, des textures et des couleurs que nous y avons vu. Ensuite, nous avons séparé les photos et les avons scotchées à un morceau de papier. Ensuite, j’ai demandé aux élèves de dessiner la moitié manquante de leur visage. Quand ils ont fini de dessiner, ils ont colorié avec des crayons de couleur et marqueurs leurs dessins.

Pour la troisième partie du projet, les élèves ont tiré leur auto-portrait sur la toile. Au cours de ce processus, j’ai essayé de les rendre encore plus conscients des formes qu’ils mettaient sur le papier. Je leur ai demandé si leurs bouches étaient aussi grandes que sur la toile et si leurs oreilles avaient vraiment cette forme. Parfois, ils ont essayé de revenir en arrière et ont redessiné certaines formes. Parfois ils étaient satisfaits de leur première tentative. Au final, leur auto-portrait est un projet très personnel et j’ai donc essayé de ne pas trop interférer.

Dans la quatrième et dernière partie de leur projet, ils ont pu peindre leur toile en mélangeant les couleurs et en les appliquant comme ils le souhaitaient. Je pense que nous avons tous vraiment apprécié ce projet et que c’était une belle façon de terminer notre Maternelle club pour l’année scolaire 2013/2014.

Et vous? Quelle est la dernière fois que vous avez fait votre auto-portrait?

Just Speak,


Hello everyone,

Here’s a little project that our Maternelle Club worked on for last two weeks which focused on taking a closer look at our faces :)

After printing out an enlarged headshot of each of my students I carefully cut them in half and laminated them (laminating the pictures allows my students to be able to repeat the project without damaging their photos).

The second part of our project consisted of taking a close look at each headshot and talking about the shapes, textures and colors that we each saw. Then we separated the photos and taped them to a piece of paper. Next I asked the students to draw in the missing half of their face. When they were done drawing they added colored pencils, markers and crayons to their drawings.

In the third part of the project the students drew out their full self-portrait onto canvas. During this process I tried to make them even more aware of the shapes that they were putting down on paper. I’d ask them if their mouths were really that big or if their ears were really that shape. Sometimes they’d try to go back and redraw a certain feature and sometimes they were satisfied with their first attempt. In the the end their self-portrait is a very personal project so I tried not to interfere too much.

In the fourth and final part of their project they were able to paint their canvas by mixing colors and applying paint as they saw fit. I think that we all really enjoyed this project and that it was a nice way to end our Maternelle Club for the 2013/2014 school year.

How about you? When was the last time that you attempted a self-portrait?

Just Speak,










10 little Indians




Bonjour à tous,

Je sens que l’été arrive ici à La Ciotat et nous allons célébrer cela en chantant une nouvelle chanson pour accueillir l’été indiene. Cette chanson ne sera pas seulement enseigner à vos enfants pour apprendre à compter de un à dix, mais également pour leur enseigner quelques phrases utiles.

J’ai également inclus deux courtes vidéos de Hoople Kidz et Muffin Songs qui dépeignent deux versions de notre chanson des 10 Little Indians (10 petits indiens).

Gobo et moi espérons que vous aimerez chanter avec nous!

Rendez-vous Jeudi!

Just Speak,


Hello Everyone,

It feels like summer has arrived over here in La Ciotat and we’re celebrating by singing a new song that will welcome an Indian summer. This song will not only teach your children how to count from one to ten but it will also teach them some directional phrases too. If you don’t recognize the directional phrase part of the song it’s because I made it up :)

I’ve also included two short videos from Hoopla Kidz and Muffin Songs that portray two versions of our 10 Little Indians song. Gobo and I sure hope that you enjoy singing along!

See you all on Thursday!

Just Speak,

Danielle from Learn and Play en Anglais