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ESL Curious George Classroom Activities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

'Curious George', by H.A. Rey, can be an interesting book to take on with ESL students. This lesson offers activities you can easily do in the classroom with your students to help them gain insight into the story's plot and ideas.

Reading Curious George

Are you reading H.A. Rey's Curious George with ESL students? This book can strike an emotional chord for some ESL students, because the story tells about a monkey being plucked against his will from a jungle and forced to move to a new land.

One way to scaffold students' understanding of Curious George is to build activities into your instruction. The activities in this lesson will appeal to students with a variety of learning styles and help them get as much as possible out of their reading of Curious George.

Pre-Reading Activities

This section offers activities that will activate students' prior knowledge and get them ready to read Curious George.

What Is 'Curious'?

The word 'curious' might be a new one for your ESL students, so this activity helps understand the important concept. Explain that 'curious' means wanting to know something you do not already know. Offer students a couple of examples of a time you have felt curious. Then, ask students to draw a picture of a time that they experienced curiosity. They should show how they handled the feeling of being curious as well as what happened as a result. Give students a chance to talk about their pictures as a group.

What Seemed New?

Like Curious George, many of your ESL students have experienced coming to a new land or visiting a new place. Ask them to talk about this experience and some of the things that stood out to them as unusual when they initially arrived. Then, break them into pairs to talk about the following questions:

  • What is hard about being new to a country/place?
  • What is interesting about being new to a country/place?
  • What is different between a country/place you know and a new country/place you move to or visit?

Students can use these discussions to help them empathize with George as they read.

During Reading Activities

Here, you will find activities students can do over the course of their reading of Curious George.

Character Traits

The two main characters in Curious George are George and the Man with the Yellow Hat. Create a large Venn diagram at the front of your classroom, and label one of the circles with the names of each of the characters. As students read, ask them to think of traits or observations about each of the characters and add them to the diagram in what they consider the appropriate place. After they have finished reading, you can use this diagram to scaffold a conversation comparing and contrasting the two main characters in the book.

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