Classroom Curiosities IX

We have March break here in Singapore, but here is the latest from the classroom:

In one lesson this week, the children were encouraged to describe animals using an adjective with the same first sound. My class came up with a ‘runny-nosed rabbit,’ a ‘chatterbox cheetah’ and (à la Louis Armstrong) a ‘hippity-hoppity horse.’

Caffeine hit
I think I’m with most teachers who work weekends when I say that coffee is a pivotal part of my working day. One of my 8 year old students pointed to my flask and said, “Do you have coughing in there?”

Two different pitfalls
One pupil was thinking of ‘knocked out’:


This one needs no explanation:


Tiny assassins
Prepositions are a tricky thing to master as I’ve mentioned before (read here), and used incorrectly, these small words can kill meaning. This week, one of my students had to construct a sentence using phrases laid out on a page. She created some brilliant scenes: ‘We jogged over the park.’ And my personal favourite, ‘We jogged through my neighbour.’

My reading class encountered the word ‘soar’ and I asked them what it meant. One child knew it meant fly high. I asked them what could soar, and one boy shouted out, “John Cena!” He’s not wrong.


Bad words
We were reading and the word ‘course’ came up. I asked the class if they could put it in a sentence. One child said, “Of course!” which was simply genius. However, another pupil immediately crossed her hands over her mouth in shock and said that was a rude word. Other than the risk of sounding like a ‘know-it-all,’ I cannot fathom why.

Birthday song
As is customary, we sing happy birthday to a student if their birthday is that week. One child loudly sang the ‘Merry Christmas’ song but with the birthday lyrics, “We wish you a happy birthday / We wish you a happy birthday / We wish you a happy birthday….Oh no.”

Down the dark, dark stairs…


During one of my kindergarten classes, I heard one student whispering to another. When I asked what they were saying, the second looked upset. “He said the ‘f’ word.” I asked what the ‘f’ word was, and the first quickly replied, “Fank you.” I have spent enough time modelling the /th/ sound to know that this was a lie.

Sometimes it is difficult to teach past tense in Singapore, since it is not really used in the Singlish dialect. Instead, they simply insert ‘already,’ saying “I got bring already” instead of “I brought it.”

To conquer this, I play a speed game where I shout out irregular verbs in the present tense and get them to call out the past tense versions. For example, see-saw, tell-told, buy-bought, read-read (pronunciation changes), swim-swam etc. The students put a finger on the table for every word they get correct, and first to ten gets a sticker. It works!

I went to work dressed in a long skirt, a lace-sleeved shirt with an embroidered eggshell blue waistcoat on top. The children were complimentary, and one of my Singaporean colleagues said I looked like the ‘Danish Girl.’ When I asked her if she was referring to Alicia Vikander, she shook her head and said no, she meant Eddie Redmayne in transition to becoming a woman.

Then, to add salt to her jellyfish sting, she said that I should consider botox to erase my wrinkles around my eyes. I flashed a large, crinkly smile at her in response.

That’s it for this week. As always, I’d love to hear your experiences teaching and the funny things that happen in your classroom!


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