Fun yet educational with The Star


Productive family time: Yong (first from left) and her family showing the outcome of their comic strip activity.

AS families locked themselves indoors to prevent the spread of Covid-19, some did not rest on their laurels when it came to English language learning amid the movement control order (MCO).

As evidenced by the insights shared by some of our readers last week, the newspaper is a handy resource that parents can use with their children not only to further expand their knowledge of current affairs, but also to build their English language skills.

More readers who have benefited from the English language activities published by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) in the past few months share their thoughts on the activities.Mother, Yong Susan worked on a comic strip activity that required participants to create their own speech bubbles-cum-dialogue.

“We chose this activity because all of us love to read comics. Our favourite comics are Kee’s World, Calvin and Hobbes and Hagar the Horrible, so naturally the speech bubbles centred around these comic strips.

“Even my sister joined in on the fun and did the most strips – five altogether mainly centring on the theme of the MCO.

“We unanimously voted for Madison’s unicorn joke as our favourite. My daughter Madison is the youngest in the family and she loves unicorns, especially purple ones! It really was a good activity to help pass time. I was surprised we got engrossed in it for three hours!

The most troublesome part of the activity was cleaning up the mess of cutout papers, rearranging newspapers and removing glue stains on the table.

“But I had my older daughter, Alyson, to help clean up.” said Yong.

The tall tale activity required participants to scan The Star for items such as: a person, an animal or insect, an object or thing, a place or building, a plant, fruit or food item and arrange the pictures in any order on a sheet of paper. Based on the order of the pictures, participants create a story.

Budding artist: Diksha, pictured on the right, shows her art piece, which she titles ‘Picasso’s Geometry Class’.Budding artist: Diksha, pictured on the right, shows her art piece, which she titles ‘Picasso’s Geometry Class’.

Mother Nurazlina Ab Alim was glad that she discovered the variety of activities provided by Star-NiE.

“They were enriching, well-blended and interesting for my family. My children, aged eight and 11, went all out to present the best story. Erynna Najwa, my 11-year-old, is good at writing but sometimes lacks the confidence to present her stories.

“Doing this activity with family members helped build her confidence. Her sister, Ellys Fatima, is quite the opposite! She loves being the centre of attention but writes her story carelessly, so we spent more time helping her with grammar.

“We have other fun yet educational activities lined up for the coming days, which are based on The Star newspaper. Learning can take place in many forms. We just need to put in effort and creativity in order to spark these precious young minds.” said the dynamic mother.

Diksha Suri, 16, created a picture by connecting the letters in the alphabet.

Using a page of the newspaper, Diksha circled a word with an initial A, then an initial B, then an initial C, and so forth. She gave her unique picture a name and later wrote a story about the picture. The student from Trinity Learning Centre, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, said, “Working on this activity taught me to be more mindful when reading as I had to search for words and connect them. It also helped stretch my creativity as I had to write a story based on the artwork created. It’s definitely a fun activity to exercise my out-of-the-box thinking and writing skills.”

Diksha titled her story Picasso’s Geometry Class.

She said, “It was a rainy day in Málaga, Spain. The year was 1895. Picasso was seated in his classroom, right next to a window. He could hear the pitter-patter of the rain. The class was ongoing. It was Geometry, his favourite subject. The students were asked to draw circles on an article and connect the dots to create plenty of triangles. Picasso began right away. He marked dots all over a pink-coloured paper and connected them to form an artwork.

“Though he started on his work quickly, it took him the duration of the lesson to complete the activity. Proud of his new art piece, he grasped it in his hand tightly and rushed home to show it to his parents.

“It seemed to have been an enjoyable school day for young Picasso as he rushed home grinning from ear to ear, ” she wrote.

Since 1997, Star-NiE has been making a difference in the English language classrooms nationwide, with an emphasis on aiding teaching-learning activities with the use of authentic newspaper materials.

Published on Wednesdays, The Star’s NiE programme is available only through school subscriptions of The Star.

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Published twice monthly on Wednesdays, the colourful 16-page NiE pullout incorporates authentic materials from the newspaper into English language learning. It is written by experienced teachers/specialists and is endorsed by the Education Ministry. The syllabus-based pullout comes with a copy of The Star and is only available through school subscription. For more details, call The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 1-300-88-7827, Monday to Friday (9am-5pm).

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