Tuesday Tricks: Authentic Materials . . . kinda


February 21, 2012 by k. liz

So, this is probably a bit more of a kindergarten post than an ESL post. But, I think that it will spark some ideas for all of you! I hear a lot about using “authentic materials” in my classes on teaching English. Authentic materials are those things in the target language that the learners are going to naturally come across – i.e. menus, brochures, newspapers, blogs, etc.

So, how exactly do you go about using authentic materials when your students don’t read or write yet? I know that there are videos and commercials and things for listening, but I took the traditional authentic materials ideas and turned them into a kindergarten-friendly letter recognition activity. (By NO MEANS is this an original idea; in fact, probably all of you have done it before me, but please humor me and let me post!)


Our unit right now is on recycling, so we have been doing a lot of activities with waste materials. On this particular day, we were doing collages. I like collages, but I had this feeling that my students wouldn’t quite get it, and I really like when we make cool art projects, not just – hm, yeah, we tried, art projects. So, I had decided that our collage would be a little more directed. We made lions – and they turned out REALLY cute!! This reinforced recycling because we were using old magazines, but it also reinforced shapes because the students had to cut a lot of triangles and two circles. (Not to mention the whole coordination factor with cutting around the shapes and whatnot.)

Finally, after they had finished their collage, I had them come over to my little letter station and find all of the letters for their name. I know that it isn’t really that exciting, but they were forced to not just write their name, but find the same letter and then put it together to create their name. (Plus, it looked super cool!)


So, I realize that this is simple (but that is what these posts are about!) And . . . wait, there’s more . . . I think that this could be adapted for other levels and a ton of other writing activities. In beginner levels, have students find words in a newspaper or magazine to describe a picture. In intermediate levels, have them find words to build a story around, or find a paragraph and then write around that paragraph. In advanced levels, have your students read a magazine article and rewrite it for a different audience.

How would you use an old magazine for a writing class?


2 thoughts on “Tuesday Tricks: Authentic Materials . . . kinda

  1. Catherine says:

    Gorgeous! More photos, please.

    • k. liz says:


      I just posted some more photos per your request. 🙂
      Hey, do you have a blog or twitter? I’d love to follow if you do!!
      Thanks so much for the comments – they are a huge encouragement!

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