I thought I would share something I have picked up from one of my associate teachers while I was a student teacher. This is great as it gets kids using their thinking skills as well as communicating with their peers.
"What is that?" - I draw using a black marker some lines on the paper. This one kind of looks like a lightening bolt, and although that is obvious to us, the children come up with an array of different ideas. You can put anything on there, I have done a series of wheels, cloud like shapes, astrix's, steps etc. So many ideas! Then I get the children to think, pair, share. The rule is that everyone should have their hand up with an idea by the time my sand timer runs out. I use an assortment of different coloured markers to record their ideas with their name underneath. They feel so proud of themselves when they see their name up under their idea on the wall. I challenge them to elaborate on their ideas, so if they say "a lightening bolt", I say where? what? so they come up with "a lightening bolt flashing through the sky".
"What are they thinking?" - For this one I have a heap of laminated photos out of newspapers, I use anything, animals, sports teams, anything! If you are starting out a sports team is easier as most children can relate but you have to get away from that quickly or they just keep coming up with the same ideas. I use the same method for ideas as "what is that?'. I have a heap of different speech bubbles that I have cut out sitting in a bag and I write their ideas on these along with their names. I get one child to glue them on once we are done.
You can also tie this one in with your current events.
Each week I challenge the children to get more ideas than they did the previous week. We do one of each a week. I have just started to introduce the thinking hats with this and has been working well. I get them to think of yellow hat - happy thoughts, black hat - bad thoughts, red hat - feelings etc. I have included a copy of some small thinking hats I created. I cut around the hat, laminate and blue tack them to my white board for fast reference.
Hope this helps! I would love to know what ideas you have for your oral language/ thinking skills programme?