As educators, it is important to provide learners with cultural repertoire. This will allow them to expand their own knowledge, have access to different types of knowledge, and develop other points of view as they interact in society. When we include different cultures in our classes, we also teach our students the importance of respecting others, because cultures, just like individuals, exist in relationship with one another.
Thinking of improving this repertoire and, at the same time, making connections with the BNCC, we suggest an activity for third graders about the traditional Brazilian June Festival – our Festa Junina. The starting point of this activity is one of the most famous Festa Junina games: fishing.
This activity works with different skills, such as listening, speaking, cultural repertoire, corporal expression, fine motor skills, and social and emotional skills. All of them contribute to the expansion of learners’ cultural and linguistic repertoire. Although this activity was thought of for third graders, it can be adapted for any age and proficiency level by adjusting the level of complexity of the tasks.
The activity: This is an adaptation of the original game Fishing to be used in English lessons. In this activity, learners use a fishing rod to catch pieces of paper cut out in the shape of fish from a box with sand. Students then perform the task that is written on the fish(es).
Materials: colored pencils, scissors, colored paper, glue, slips of paper with different tasks related to Festa Junina, barbecue sticks, string, wire, a large plate or bowl, and sand.
Step 1: Making the fish
Give students some colored pencils and paper and ask them to create their fishes. When their fish is ready, hand out the slips of paper with tasks. The tasks can be a language revision or use the language you are currently working with in class, but it is important to stick to the Festa Junina general topic. Here are some examples: invite a classmate and find in the classroom: a straw hat and a colored flag; invite three classmates to dance square dance (quadrilha); say a Festa Junina typical food.
Ask learners to glue the tasks they received to the fish they made.
Make a hole in the fish so that students can catch them using the fishing rod. The hole determines how difficult it is to catch a fish.
Step 2: Making the fishing rod
Invite learners to make a fishing rod. Cut a piece of wire and bend it to make a fishing hook. Use the string to tie the hook to one end of the barbecue stick.
Step 3: Organizing the fish in a bowl
Put some sand in a very big plate or bowl.
Organize the paper fish inside it.
Step 4: Playing the game
Allow the whole classroom to fish and do the tasks together as a team. During the game, explore new vocabulary related to Festas Juninas (e.g. stands, flags, fireworks, bonfire, straw hat…). You can make a list on the board.
Step 5: Reflecting upon what students learned with the game
When all learners have finished playing, invite them to sit in a circle. Explore the tasks in the fishes. Have them create a collaborative text about the June Festival.