Hands-on TCI with Unifix Cubes

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This is a fantastic hands-on CI activity to teach the words ‘ambil’ (pick up), ‘taruh’ (put), ‘di atas’ (on top of), colours and numbers. Students are totally engaged because each has their own little snap-lock bag with all nine unifix cube colours – white, blue, red, pink, brown, green, yellow, black and orange. At the beginning of the year I only included 5 colours and slowly added more over the year. I do this activity with Preps, but it would work with other beginners.

I start with asking all students to ‘lingkaran, lingkaran’ and make a circle shape with my hands.  They get it, and sit in a circle. Then I say laki-laki, perempuan, laki-laki, perempuan (boy, girl, boy, girl – makes behaviour management so much easier!) – they sort themselves out (mostly). I sit in the circle too, usually next to the most challenging student 😉

Then I give out the ‘tas’ (bag) by sliding them across the carpet to each child. This seems to impress them no end! I show them what I do with mine – I tip them all out in front of me and then say ‘tas di belakang’, while placing bag behind my back.

After they have all done this, I count the ‘balok‘ one by one and get them to join in if they can. I tell them ‘Ambil merah. Taruh merah sini. Ambil putih. Taruh putih di atas merah. Ambil kuning. Taruh kuning di atas putih. (To be honest, with my Preps I don’t use ‘taruh‘ in case it is too much new vocab, I just leave it out, but you could use it) I say this slowly, and I do it as well,  so that if a child does not know the colours yet, they can just copy me and let the language soak in. I do this with all colours, then start at the bottom and repeat each colour while pointing to each block.

Then we sing, ‘rusak, rusak, rusak – rusak, rusak, rusak’ as we break them all apart. Then I ask ‘Siapa duduk baik?’ (Who is sitting nicely?) and I pick that person to pick/say the colour we will start the next tower with. Sometimes they say it in English, that’s OK. I just repeat the colour and pick that block up. I pick a different child to say each block. All up we build about 5 or 6 towers, following the same routine and choosing children to say the next colour. Amazingly they don’t get bored!

With one class, I had an Indonesian child who kept saying ‘Sudah!’ after he had broken up his tower, so I incorporated this into the lesson and I said it as well, over and over, every time I finished breaking up my tower. If the kids said ‘Done!’ I said, you have to say ‘Sudah!’ which they did. By the last tower they were all chanting ‘Sudah! Sudah!’

When I have had enough, I line all my blocks up and count them, to make sure they are all there. They do it with me. Then I ask them to ‘ambil tas’ (pick up your bag) and we put them in one by one, listening to the colours I say aloud. I tell them ‘Tutup tas’ and they zip up their little bag. I walk around the circle and collect all the bags, saying ‘Terima kasih‘ to each child.

Such a cool activity and they are as good as gold because their hands are busy!

Then I hand them out a ‘tower building  worksheet, which has six towers of six blocks each.  I will add the attachment so you can download it and use with your own classes. (just give me time to get to school tomorrow to find it!)

I tell them we are going to colour in towers just the same way we built them, from the bottom up, and then I say ‘Warnai balok satu merah’ (colour in block 1 red), ‘Di atas, merah, warnai biru’ (on top of red, colour blue) etc. They enjoy this and you can see straight away who has got it and who hasn’t.

Try this with your younger students! They will love it and so will you! It’s fun to sit on the floor and play.

PS I have lots of plastic dinosaurs, cats and dogs too. It would be fun to create a little story where dinosaur walks to red, runs to yellow, jumps to blue etc or goes to orange with dog etc! Please add any other ideas you think of!

PPS Thanks to Bu Cathy who found these photos of me with my students ‘playing’ with blocks.

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