Total Physical Response (TPR), which involves coordinating language with physical movement (for example, you make actions like a dog to represent the word dog), is one of those things I’m just not naturally gifted at. Problem is, many kids love doing the TPR movements, particularly with respect to songs.
Here are a few tips to help out with devising TPR actions for any song:
- Sometimes the performer or characters will be doing actions in the video version of the song that you can easily mimic.
- Look for another version of the song to get some clues as to actions you can do.
- Occasionally, YouTube channels offer teaching tips for their songs. (Search the channel. For example, Super Simple Songs used to produce teacher videos. They also have some Sing Along with Tobee videos where the presenter does TPR actions for the song).
- Ask your teaching assistant (TA). Many TAs love to dance, and they’ve likely seen how popular songs are performed in other classes, so they may be of help.
- One of the YouTube channels filmed their teaching assistants performing several popular EFL kindergarten songs. You can find their videos here.
- Make them up! You’ll find there are often several good ways for doing any action, in any case.
Truth is, as long as you are confident in your actions, the children will be happy to follow your lead. So, dance like nobody is watching!
Top Tip: One of the teachers that I’ve observed, had her students march on the spot during a song where they otherwise weren’t doing any actions. For some songs, I think that’s an idea worth experimenting with.
Also, some children don’t like dancing or singing. I will never force a child to do something they don’t want to do. Walking on the spot, or standing, encourages those other children that might be a little shy and on the edge of not joining in, to participate in some way. Otherwise, especially at the beginning of a Kindergarten 1 course, you can have groups where several children decide they want to sit out of the songs… and miss out on all of the fun.