Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Paper chains aren't just for Christmas

I've seen a lot of paper chains in the classrooms of my schools recently.  In one school, each classroom has a paper chain made of links decorated with the children's names.  In the other, one of the Year 4 classes has made a chain out of their work about Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol.

Then today, when I should have been doing something else, I saw an interesting tweet from the TES appear in Tweetdeck and retweeted it together with a little thought about how it might work in MFL:

I had a chat about it on Twitter this afternoon with @kscapp, and after that thought I'd give it a try to see how it would work.

I tried it out with the sentences that my Year 6 Spaniards did recently, about where they go and how they get there.  The sentences have four "chunks" and so to start with I cut strips in four different colours.  Blue for time phrases, green for parts of the verb ir, orange for places in town, pink for transports.

Then I made three paper chains, using one of each colour for each chain.  You can see the results in the photo at the top of this post.

Students could work in pairs to make chains like this from a given selection of "chunks".  They could check each other's and translate them into English.  Putting the colours into the right order reinforces the word order and will increase pupil confidence when it comes to writing their own sentences later.  And of course they are an instant display.  The activity works in a similar way to using different coloured Lego blocks or multilinks, but is a bit longer-lasting.

I've had another idea for how I might plan this into a lesson:
  • Give students the strips on white paper with the words in an outline font or with an outline border around them.
  • Students sort the strips into the different groups or chunks (Thinking Skills classification exercise)
  • Once they are happy that they have sorted the strips into the correct groups, they colour in the letters or borders of each one a different colour.
  • They stick the strips together to make chains as before.


  1. love it! as you say, bit like my beloved Lego, but with the added bonus of creating a lovely display item too! :)

  2. What an excellent idea! It's so simple and yet so effective. Thank you.

  3. Wonderful - perfect for practising the TMP rule in German!

  4. I was given 6 huge boxes of card (approx A5 size). S1 have had fun writing extended sentences (lots of Opinion+Subject+Qualifier+Reason), they then take piece of card and write out their sentences with each part of the sentence having its own colour and card - they are currently hanging like bunting around my room and look fantastic - lots of very happy S1s!