Not Your School Recess’ Four-Square:  A reading, writing and speaking activity for the World Language Classroom

Here is a quick, low-prep activity for the world language classroom. It allows for reading and writing practice for most levels--I would say 4th grade and up.


First, you need to create a paragraph that targets what you want the students to practice. It could be a simple paragraph that highlights description: Her name is Sue, she likes to _______. She has ______ hair and blue eyes. She has a brother named _______. Sue is ________ years old. You can make the paragraph any length you want and about any topic at any level. I have even taken excerpts from a novel, article, or a newspaper. After you have written or found your paragraph, cut and paste it into a word document table that is 2 x 2. Here is an example: The boxes should take up the entire page. For the level I teach, 8.5 x 11 paper works. However, if you teach more advanced students, your excerpt may be longer and require bigger paper.


Distribute the paper to students. Individually, they need to read the paragraph and draw what they understand in box #2. If you want to tie in listening and/or dictation, you could read box #1 to your students. Some students get hung up on being perfect when drawing; remind them that this is not art class and stick figures will do! Encourage students to label their drawing(s) for clarity. Again, with more complex topics, students may need more space to draw. This can take 5-15 minutes, based on the content.


Using box #1 as a model, students create their own paragraph in box #3, adding personal details and variations. For example, if box #1 detailed a daily routine, students would add what they do, writing in the first person. Again, gauge the appropriate time based on the level of difficulty.


After completing the written portion, student exchange with a partner. Give them x amount of minutes to read and draw what their partner wrote in box #3. After, the students can reconvene with their partners. This conversation can go two ways: Either students can discuss grammar issues/mistakes and make corrections in English, or you can have students ask for clarification or details in the target language. Additionally, you can have a discussion after in the target language and ask students questions about the paragraph, discuss what they wrote in box #3, or ask questions about their partners. If you wish, you can collect the sheets for evaluation. Otherwise, students can keep for reference.

Culminating Activity: EXTEMPORE

During class if there is time, I have students complete an activity on Extempore. Usually, I pull questions from box #1 and personalize them so students can answer based on their own experiences or opinions. If you run out of time, this is an excellent activity for homework!

Need more inspiration? Check out our eBook with 29 classroom activities!

This post is courtesy of Andrea Nazelli who is the Spanish department chair and teacher at Detroit Country Day School. See her post Keeping Students in the Target Language [Three Classroom Activities] for more activity ideas!