A Little Lamb

Posted on April 15, 2013 by

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Lesson Plan: Mary Had a Little Lamb
Local English Teacher: TLG Volunteer: Neal Z.
Grade: 2-6 English World Textbook Level: 2+
Lesson Objectives/Target Language:
Objective: To teach the song “Mary Had a Little Lamb” with proper pronunciation
Target Language:
– “short a” as in Mary, Had, Lamb, As, That, Laugh*, Baaa
– vocabulary words in song
– the word “rhyme” in context: “play rhymes with day”, “school rhymes with rule”, “snow rhymes with go”
Materials:
– chalk
– paper
– pencils
Brief Description of the Lesson, Activities:0. Preparation (before class): write the text of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on the board:

Mary had a little lamb
Its fleece was white as snow.
Everywhere that Mary went,
the lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day
which was against the rules.
It made the children laugh and play,
to see a lamb at school.

1. Warmer: Teach the song! (warmer/presentation/practice, 5-10 minutes): Read the words and have the students repeat. Check pronunciation, especially of “short a” words. Then teach the tune of the song. Sing a few times as a group, until the class is confident or bored.

2. Vocabulary/Translation (presentation, 5 minutes): Teach the meaning of the song. The coteacher may have to translate vocabulary words and full sentences, as the song uses rare words (fleece), idioms (was sure to) and past tense (followed, had, was, went) that the students have not studied yet. Either way, this should not take more than five minutes and students do not have to learn every unfamiliar word, as long as they understand the meaning.

3. Writing (practice, 5-10 minutes): Students should copy the song text into their class notebooks. At this point students may not have had much writing practice, so make sure to check their spelling and handwriting. This activity also varies greatly in duration based on students’ writing speed and ability.

4. Pronunciation (practice, 10 minutes): Write the letter A on the board in capital and small letters. Ask students what the name of the letter is. Then, ask them what sound it makes. Prompt or correct if necessary. List the words in the song with the “short a” sound. Drill pronunciation individually and in groups. Ask what sound a lamb makes. Write “baaa” on the board (with the list of “short a” words and imitate the lamb sound (adjust your lamb sound to the “short a” if it is different).

If students have trouble with short a, write contrasting words on the board. For instance, when I ask my students what “had” means they say “tavi”, or “head”, and when I ask them about Mary they say “gilocavt” (which can be translated as the “Merry” in “Merry Christmas”). You can write out these contrasts, and their definitions, and let the students hear you pronounce “had” and “head” a number of times.

5. Rhymes (presentation, 5 minutes): Point out the rhymes to the students: day and play, go and snow, school and rule(s). Explain that a rhyme is when two words sound alike at the end. The coteacher will most likely have to explain this in Georgian. Present the construction “rhymes with” and drill “day rhymes with play”, “go rhymes with snow,” and “rule rhymes with school”. Check comprehension by asking “What rhymes with play?” “What rhymes with snow?” etc.

6. Performance (production, 2 minutes): Have the class sing the song back to you! Help with prompts as needed.

7. Review and assign homework (3 minutes): Check the previous lesson’s homework assignment. Homework for today is to learn the song and the spelling and pronunciation of the “short a” words. If the students need writing practice, assign them to write the words out in their notebooks a number of times.

Assessment:
(to be filled in during/after class)

Notes:

  • This lesson lasts around 45 minutes, depending on the level of the students and how much time they need to complete each segment. Different parts can be expanded or shortened as needed. You might even want to divide the lesson into two halves: teach the first verse and the “short a” words in one lesson, and the second verse and the “rhyme” concept and construction in the second lesson. This allows you to also teach an English World segment during each lesson, instead of devoting an entire period to Mary Had a Little Lamb.
  • Pronunciation of “short a”: “Short a” is the vowel sound found in the word “cat”. For some speakers, this sound varies to some extent in the words presented here; “Mary”, “lamb”, and “laugh” might sound different from “had”, “as”, and “that”, or other variations might occur. (In British accents “laugh” is pronounced with a completely different vowel and should be excluded from this list.) My students understand and respond much better when I minimize this difference and pronounce all of these words with as close to the a in cat as I can manage.
  • Many Georgians have been taught to pronounce “short a” as “short e”: “head” instead of “had”, etc. Part of the purpose of this lesson is to overcome this problem. Because of this fact, often younger students do much better in the pronunciation section of this lesson than older students. You may also find you will have to work with your coteacher(s) on their pronunciation of these words.
  • You may find it helpful to discuss the translation of this song with your coteacher before giving the lesson. The same goes for the word “rhyme” and translating the concept of rhyming. I became a little lax about pre-planning songs with my coteacher and we hit a bit of a speedbump when we came to the rhyming section of this lesson.
  • Here is a great video of the song in a British accent – note the consistency in the “short a” between Mary, had, lamb, and that – and the different pronunciation of “laugh”:

Good luck, and enjoy!

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