A Brand New Year

by Anne Krisman

“What’s this?”
“A tallit!”
“And what’s this?”
“A kippah!”

I have watched Modern Languages teachers at work and they have a lot to teach us about learning words. They believe in drill and repetition, they aren’t afraid to go over old ground and return to old words and phrases taught weeks ago.

This term, I was proud to realise that one Year 8 class, the children with the most severe difficulties, were able to remember the names of the six major world faiths, could say “gurdwara” in a way that would impress a Sikh, and could even recall the beginning of the adhan (call to prayer) for Muslims.

Pupils with special needs are able to learn the key words from faiths, and what these words mean. My experience tells me that they relish new words and new sounds. We need to learn techniques to communicate religious words in a rigorous and lively way.

I now try to begin my lessons with a recap of key words, using pictures and posters, as well as artefacts. Sometimes we play the “who can find” game - who can find a picture of Krishna in the room? Who can find a menorah? Who can see a picture of the Ka’aba? The class dashes around, and discovers the answers with excitement and joy.

The best game to remember key words, and which leads into symbols is this one and it really works. Choose three key words. Let’s imagine they are kippah, tallit, and Star of David. Invent a symbolic movement for each word. Kippah = touch head. Tallit = a wrapping around movement. Star of David = your hand open and held up.

A pupil has to stand in front of the class blindfolded.

The class then has to choose one of the three options and freeze into the movement.

The ‘chooser’ then says “kippah sit down” (or tallit, or Star of David) and the pupils who have that gesture, have to sit down. They are out! The children left in the game choose again from the three movements, and the process continues until there is one winner.

Do you have any other games that encourage pupils to learn new words and concepts? Let us know on this website!

Anne Krisman

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