Class Objects Revisited Pt2 – What can you teach with a ruler only?

It’s time for the second post in the Class Objects Revisited series and this time I will focus on class activities which make use of or are inspired by rulers. For those of you not familiar with my challenge, it is based on goal 13 “Making a Global connection” featured in cycle 4 of Sherryl Terrel’s 30 Goals Challenge. So, what can you teach with a ruler then?

1) On a scale of 1-10, how…? – Teaching numbers is an obvious activity when it comes to using rulers. Apart from number instruction though, a ruler provides a handy scale of 1-10 which you can use for speaking activities concerning your students’ feelings/preferences/ ambitions/wishes etc.

2) Comparisons – turning rulers into growth charts. If you manage to find a paper or fabric growth chart, you instantly have a great tool which you can use to introduce compartive/superlative forms. Ask your students to measure each other’s height, compare their heights and finally find out who is the tallest in the class.

3)  Stop the action – Rulers as clapperboards (past simple vs. past progressive). This is a way of turning book-based grammar exercises into fun, class activities. Tape two rulers together so that they can look like a clapperboard. Now, split your class in pairs. Tell them that one of them will have to read and then act out the sentence they’re working on. (eg. I __________ (walk) in the forest when I suddenly __________ (see) a green monster.)  The second student will have to spot the word which denotes that the longer action is  interrupted by a shorter one and correctly “stop the action” the moment that past simple should be used.

4) Creative Writing – inspired by the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. Turn a paper ruler into a tree and tell your students to imagine that the different numbers indicate how close they are to achieving their dreams. Ask them to choose a number and then tell them that at the top of the tree there is a land where everything is possible. Looking at their number, they should write how far they are from getting there and what they would do so as to reach the top.

5) Introducing vocabulary 1 (types of measurement). Rulers could also be used when presenting advanced vocabulary since they relate to measurement and change. Tape a ruler in the middle of your board and draw two circles on either side, then write the words measure and change in them. Create a mindmap of synonyms by asking your class to brainstorm synonyms for the two verbs.

6) Introducing vocabulary 2 (education/types of power). Introduce the second meaning of the word ruler and show your class pictures of old school teachers (I mostly like those that come from Pink Floyd’s film “The Wall” -you could also work on Floyd’s song “Another brick in the wall”.) Relate rulers to strict classroom environments, explain how educational paradigms have changed and introduce words like corporal punishment, discipline, rigidity, obedience etc.

7) Chain story on the wall. Instead of writing a chain story on a piece of paper, students can tape a strip of paper on the back of their ruler and write their sentences there. Then, you can tape all rulers on construction paper and have your own story artwork!

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2 Comments

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  1. Another idea has just sprung to mind: the ruler (at least a 30 cm one) may become a part of a classic board game; it may represent a set of 30 steps a player has to take to accomplish a mission. This can be played along with dice and a set of questions or tasks you need to work on. One student rolls the die and provided he can answer a question or do a task, he can take as many steps as the number on the uppermost side of the die shows. If he answers incorrectly, he must go back. The actual position of the player can be indicated with another object, such as a pencil 🙂 Once a player reaches number 30, the game is over.

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  2. How inspiring, dear Hana! Of course, this reminds me of our 30 Goals Challenge as well (how about having a 30 goals board game made???) Once again, thank you for taking part in the series, there is nothing like exchanging ideas and sharing experiences with other teachers!

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