Baby Beetles Expert Lesson Notes
Introduction to the Teacher’s Lesson Notes
The Universal Preschool Course was created with the goal of preparing children for a bilingual future with English as an additional language. It delivers an introduction to English naturally through contextual activities and play.
Its unique combination of classroom based materials and home‑learning edutainment offers a carefully planned and balanced approach that exposes young children to English daily as a normal part of learning and growing up.
The course is available in a number of versions to suit the teaching staff and time in the curriculum of different preschool settings.
The Expert programme targets the highest achievement rating in the Universal Preschool Course range. It is designed for teachers who are qualified to teach English and who deliver language lessons for more hours per class per week.
Starter Experts with the Baby Beetles!
The Baby Beetles Expert Lesson Notes are for qualified English teachers who are using the storybooks as an additional part of their teaching syllabus in preschool.
The Expert storybooks build on and expand the ground covered by the Baby Beetles PLUS lesson plans, so the PLUS level lessons should be completed first. This is essential so that pupils know the context for the stories and are familiar with the characters, simple song words and phrases, before facing the higher demands of the storybooks.
Preschool courses often start with stories, but this is perhaps challenging for pupils who have not heard English before. The great advantage of the Baby Beetles series is that it presents the new language in small steps, starting from just two words - the invitation Let's play! From there it builds awareness, familiarity and comfort with the language through the medium that young children use naturally - contextual experience.
Language is presented in animated film contexts for them to watch and to hear in action. It is real, immediate - and immediately usable.
Once pupils are familiar with the Baby Beetles characters, adventure films, songs and phrases, they are ready to step in closer to the language, to make the world more personal with their very own stories.
The stories have significant, additional learning purposes and are a strong springboard for more great play‑and‑learn time!
Teacher qualifications required to deliver the Expert version
Teachers using the Universal Preschool Course Expert programme are required to have a high level of proficiency and be able to interact with the pupils in fluent, clear and grammatically correct English. The range and extent of vocabulary included in the materials is considerably greater in order to match the extra time these teachers have available for lessons and so to match the broader opportunity pupils have to hear and use English. Teachers are expected to use their skills and knowledge along with the materials to maximise children’s progress in - and enjoyment of - English. Most users will be working in a bilingual or specialist language preschool setting.
It is important to keep in mind that it is the teachers who are experts! The pupils are still simply very young children with the innate talent for absorbing languages to a bilingual level that almost all children have. There are limits to their overall linguistic ability and potential due to their age and level of brain and communication development. The Expert version of the course aims to keep this in mind so that it strikes the right balance with exposure to a specific range of age, activity and topic‑appropriate language. Thanks to the Spiral Language System™ approach, the language at all three levels of the course is repeated in numerous contexts to ensure that the foundations of the language are well‑established. Through this method, the word count will continue to expand naturally with the expanding world, interests, awareness and fluency of children as they progress through preschool and then from preschool to primary and beyond.
The Universal Preschool Course within the Bilingual Future Programme takes children from the starting point of no knowledge of English and leads them gently to greater awareness, understanding and use of the language through activities that are recognised as play.
Preschools that adopt the Expert version have extra time available for English in the curriculum. These materials use that time to extend and expand each topic in a number of beneficial ways. Not only can the Expert course introduce more vocabulary linked to each thematic context, but it can also take the time to present how the language is used in more ways through more channels. Pupils gain a better feel for the natural melody, form, rhythm and intonation of the language, which will help them to become intuitive, bilingual speakers, readers and writers later. In summary, the Expert version of the Universal Preschool Course takes children on a broader, deeper, fuller language journey.
The Expert version in the context of the Universal Preschool Course range
There are four planned versions of the Universal Preschool Course.
The Standard version of the course is for class teachers who do not know English or are not confident to teach it. They follow lesson plans written in their home language and lead fun activities with pupils around English themes that the course materials present. The language learning is delivered through the core song words and animation scripts together with game activities that help children understand, absorb and copy basic words and phrases.
The Easy‑Access version is for inclusive classrooms and specialist schools that teach pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). This is only available as a Starter Level using the Baby Beetles content.
The PLUS version of the course employs the skills of qualified English teachers to interact in English with the pupils and to add a range of classroom instructions to the core vocabulary. It also consolidates words and phrases with interactive games and short drama plays, in which the class teacher uses and elicits English.
The Expert version begins with the PLUS lessons to introduce pupils to English, to the world of the characters and to daily exposure to a new language. It then extends the learning platform with additional materials, lessons and activities, including storytelling in which narrative language is wrapped around the core songs and scripts. Through the Expert version, young pupils hear and use five different aspects of language:
Simple song lyrics
The Expert version continues to follow my Spiral Language System, with in‑built repetition and expansion, development in new contexts that are carefully cross‑referenced through the level.
1. Listening and comprehension
The stories develop listening skills ready for future comprehension activities.
Following the 10 simple steps across the 10 pages in each story encourages sequencing and helps young pupils to order their thoughts.
3. Expanding vocabulary
The storybooks provide the space to expand the vocabulary from the simple start films. The texts include the words for items seen in the films but not yet described. They are the right setting to introduce first conversations between the characters.
4. Introduction to the literary language form
Stories introduce description of actions, people, places and events. It is a different style of language from speech or songs and, as in the home language, stories are added after children have heard spoken language and sung language.
40 stories to match all 40 songs in the home‑learning set
10 pages per story, each with a picture from the series and a short text
Key word and phrase support materials in the picture dictionary sets
40 story recordings with a native speaker voice
Single word and phrase recordings for quick access to native speaker pronunciation
Song backing tracks
Typical activities with the Baby Beetles audio storybooks
• The class sits where they can all see and hear the teacher clearly
• The class watches and listens
• The class responds, as suggested in the lesson notes
Examples of activities during listening:
• Point to images of the characters each time a name is heard
• Hold up a picture card to match a key word
• Do actions to match key action‑words in the story
• Use the puppets to encourage pupils to take lead and subsidiary roles in re‑telling the action
Interactive work from the storybooks after listening
• Re‑use phrases from the stories in interactive language activities
• Mime the emotions in the story
• Identify the main characters and what they do
• Identify the main noun or main action and repeat it
• Repeat the main phrase from the animated song
• Mime the main action points from the story
• Re‑play that action with the puppets or in a short, simplified play
The Activities Learning Ring
In order to help children access the additional language and use it themselves in a natural way, we need to present them with the same variety of language access points that they use in the home language.
The learning of a language is a very subjective activity that requires a child to introduce its own personality and style of expression. This is very hard at the beginning because the child does not have enough language knowledge to be able to personalize the style of expression.
This is one of the frustrations that older children feel when forced to interact unnaturally with a language in which they cannot express themselves fully. They cannot present the individualism that they have just achieved after a hard battle in the home language and so can resent or at least feel uncomfortable speaking in the additional language, which they feel makes them appear simple or less interesting than they are!
The Expert preschool programme aims to provide access for all personality types through the inclusion of the broadest possible range of activities. Personality can then be expressed through the way in which those activities are performed as much as through the verbal delivery of the exercise.
Furthermore, the Expert version maintains the approach central to the Universal Preschool Course that positions English as a part of the overall preschool education plan. It addresses the whole child’s development through the games and activities as far as possible within the limitations of the scope of the course through the Learning Activities Ring
The Learning Activities Ring represents all the ways that pupils can access English with the materials in a new, comprehensive plan.
Using the storybook units
The language of storytelling is very different from the language of conversation or plays. It requires an element of poetry in description, rhythm and choice of words that move it out of the every day and into the magic of language that builds a new place for our thoughts. This is a higher level of language interaction that requires the teacher to take more time and offers the teacher more to explore. For the pupils, it provides a deeper feel for the natural rhythm of the new language and a subconscious insight into how that particular language affects thinking.
The storybooks are to be presented only after the animations have become very familiar. The pupils understand from the film who the characters are, where they live, how they play with each other and how that whole world‑context fits together. They have a basis of visual understanding and a few core words onto which the story can spread a new layer of extra vocabulary. These new words start to describe what they have seen and heard, to put names to more items and actions and to place the catch‑phrases from the short song lyrics into a wider network or tessellation of words.
If the teacher reads the stories, he or she should pause by new nouns and point to the image on the picture. For actions, the teacher can do the action and invite the class to repeat it. Emotions should be shown on the teacher’s face and varied tones of voice used to express the feelings attached to the events in each page image. The texts are necessarily short, so teachers are encouraged to use their own body, face and tone to help the pupils remember the atmosphere from the film and to understand the new words in connection with that film context.
The stories build and repeat vocabulary and set phrases both within each story and cumulatively across the stories. The process of presentation and repetition with new encounters in new contexts imitates how children learn their home‑language and follows the Spiral Language System™ pattern that applies to the whole course. A tally is shown in each story unit (and in the introduction) of how many words are new, how many key words or phrases are repeated within stories and how many words are revised as the stories progress. Some stories are designed to repeat phrase structures in each step while others avoid that device so that it does not become too predictable.
All the texts reflect the simple action in the films. They are sometimes clear three‑step stories (beginning issue, middle action, end resolution) and sometimes they simply reflect a gentle flow of daily experience with small but happy surprises.
The stories are all in the present tense to reflect how children at a very young age experience daily life - as immediate and new. It also means that the language learnt can be used in lessons straight away, without being transposed from past tense to present. Pupils will not have had enough exposure to the language at this stage to manage that shift in declination. Storytelling in the tradition of fairytales of long ago, told in the past tense, will follow in later materials for older age groups.
Expanded Pupil’s Pages The Expert Pupil’s pages take more time to complete and involve more activity stages. Many of them are designed to be props to support the story or activities and game that follow the story. Most avoid cutting out activities or offer cutting out as optional, because children struggle to cut out for themselves. However some pages do require cutting out in order to make the sheets function as props and I hope you will feel that the benefits that the props can bring for the pupils are worth the extra effort.
The sheets are designed to develop language and skills, so most of them involve several stages, even if those stages are simple. The instructions may begin, for example, with trace and colour but then also require cutting out and adding a strap, so that the image can be held up as a mask or symbol.
The pages reflect the extra vocabulary in the Expert course to support or supplement the teacher’s flashcards.
Extended Classroom Instructions Language Almost all classroom instructions will be given in English in this version. Very often, courses do not count the instruction words in the overall list of new words so a pupil may be meeting six new topic words but another fourteen classroom words! It is important to keep a balance between these two tallies and also to plan the lesson so that the two types of language support each other. English used for classroom instructions should be fully integrated into the content of the course so that it too can be re‑cycled, extended and applied by both the teachers and the pupils in other ways.
Occasionally it may be necessary to explain the rules of activities in the home language. This can be practical and effective, so is left to the discretion of the Expert teacher.
The Theoretical support for the Expert version approach
The process of integrating the activities, the new topic language, the new classroom language and the match of skills, knowledge and personal development elements in each unit forms a tessellation of language and skills learning, which I call: Tessellation Teaching for Language Learning.
By creating a tessellation of the normal range of language uses that children encounter across the play activities in the course, the young pupils gain a fuller grounding in English and so are better placed to build a naturally bilingual future.
Summary of the Starter Expert Course Materials
The course materials include the following items for each level of the course.
Home Pack for pupils - Online subscription to the films, songs and activities home pack (Standard – to be completed before starting to use the books) - Online access to the audio storybook texts and recorded readings (Expert) - Audio Picture Dictionary with images to match key words and phrases (Expert)
Expert Classroom Pack for Teachers - Universal Preschool Course PLUS version (see directions for use below) - Expert Teacher’s Lesson Notes to accompany all stories with a broad range of activities using the expanded vocabulary and story contexts - Classroom activities include games, challenges, mime, simple acting , catch‑phrases and more - Pupil’s Pages to use as additional teaching tools - Additional Online Resource sheets for selected units - Online access to the audio storybook texts and recorded readings (Expert) - Audio Picture Dictionary with images to match key words and phrases (Expert – for reference only)
Additional home learning resources are available as optional extras.
Overview of the book series vocabulary, including the words in the films:
Total new in Zoom's books if the films are viewed first: new 97, revised 153
Total new in Ring Ring's books if the films are viewed first: new 90, revised 198
Total new in Splish Splash's books if the films are viewed first: new 92, revised 281
Tick Tock totals: 90/54/241
Total new in Tick Tock's books if the films are viewed first: new 68, revised 360
Totals across all four books: New 347, Revised 992
Claire Diana Selby