Previously, I reviewed the book Activities for Very Young Learners by Herbert Puchta and Karen Elliott. Today I want to review one of the other key books in the field, Very Young Learners by Vanessa Reilly and Sheila M. Ward . Many consider this book to be one of the key resources for teaching kindergarten English to 3 to 5 year olds.

Similar to Activities for Very Young Learners by Herbert Puchta, this book starts out with some useful information to know, and general guidelines for teaching this 3 to 5 year old age group. It then moves onto syllabus and lesson planning, as well as an overview of some of the different types of activities you can do with very young learners like storytelling, drama, and videos. There is some very valuable information in these sections. I would love to have seen it expanded further.

Like most books in this field, you have to make a judgement as to whether the information provided fits well for you.

For example, like many authors, in this book it is suggested that very children have a limited attention span. I’ve heard some teachers suggest that you use the child’s age and add one year, to roughly determine a child’s attention span.

I haven’t necessarily found this to be the case in my experience.

For instance, if you put a child in front of a video they enjoy, they’ll stay focused for a long time. Likewise, if children are engaged in the activity they’re performing, they can do it for a lot longer than their age plus one minute. And, if you slightly modify an activity, it can continue to hold their interest for a longer period of time. So, if you were to take the idea that children have a limited attention span as being gospel, it might stop you from trying activities that could benefit your students.

Back to the book.

After the introduction, you get to the meat and bones of the book; lots of activities that you can use in your classes (whole group, small groups, and individual. Most of the activities consist of the materials you need, how to prepare them, and some useful comments on how the activity might work, along with suggestions for adaptations. Throughout the book there are lots of printables you can use in your classroom.

Across the various chapters, you’ll also find a lot of songs (with lyrics) that you can sing with children.

Overall, ‘Very Young Learners’ by Vanessa Reilly and Sheila M. Ward is a very useful and practical book for teachers of ESL or EFL kindergarten English. You’re sure to find lots of games and activities that you can successfully apply into your classes. While Very Young Learners covers similar themes to Activities for Very Young Learners, the content is sufficiently different that it is worthwhile to purchase both books.

You can read more reviews, or purchase Very Young Learners here at