The kindergarteners in the Dragons and Eagles classes created a new dramatic play center called Play Teacher. In this center, the children pretend to be Chinese teachers, instructing other kids in the target language. To make it authentic, teachers brought in Avenues badge cases and let students make their own IDs by writing their names and drawing self-portraits on cards. The children brainstormed a list of materials that Chinese teachers often use in class, including posters, vocabulary flash cards, a pointer, whiteboards, markers, class schedules, sight-word cards and so forth. They used a timer when taking turns playing—each child had five minutes as teacher while the rest played students.
The Dragons and Eagles kids were very creative, and it was clear that they have been paying attention to what teachers say and do in the Chinese classroom. Children were mimicking their Chinese teachers by praising students when they spoke Chinese (你说的很好！You said it well!), or asking them to take a little break when they were distracting others (你去休息一下！ Go take a little break!). They also were teaching others through activities, such as tally mark interviews, Chinese speaking games, morning meeting games and more. For example, during the tally mark interview, little Chinese “teachers” drew two types of things—apples and oranges, for example—and asked their classmates which of these two they would prefer and then recorded the answers in tally marks. Both the “teachers” and the “students” were asking and speaking in Chinese, using the recently taught sentence structure “你喜欢——还是——。You prefer ____or _____.”
The little teachers were also reading Chinese posters and asking their classmates to repeat after them. Some student teachers were even writing Chinese characters on the whiteboard. They had lots of fun playing teacher, and really deepened their language learning by teaching others Chinese!