Teaching daily routine verbs to preschool children

illustration from story that teachers daily routine verbs

How would you teach these common daily routine verbs to preschool children: wake up, get up, wash your face, eat your breakfast, and brush your teeth?

Use a cute story

Why not teach daily routine through games and a cute story? Groundhog day is the story. North American folklore says that if it’s sunny when the first groundhog comes out of his burrow, it’ll be a late Spring. If it’s cloudy, Spring will be early. Groundhogs sleep all winter, like their European brothers the marmots. So our hibernating groundhog is called Sleepy. The first thing we are going to do is wake him up.

Wake up Sleepy game

Children lie on the floor pretending to sleep. The teacher calls out “Wake Up Sleepy!” All the children jump up and run to the wall. Use heads in hands at desks in a classroom situation. Children jump up and stretch their arms out rather than running to the wall.

Children return to their sleeping position, face down and no looking, but lots of snoring! The teacher creeps around and touches one child who shouts out “Wake Up Sleepy!” Do this a few times then try a variant.

Variant 1

if it’s a girl’s voice they don’t move, if it’s a boy’s voice they “wake up”. This won’t be so easy with preschool children, but that can add to the fun. If it’s too difficult, use a high voice and a low voice.

Variant 2

Variant 2 is for the teacher to pick one child who then hides before calling out “Wake up Sleepy!” Children jump up and must call out the name of the missing child. They only have ten seconds to guess, you count down from 10 to 0. If no one has guessed, help them by asking, “Is it Juan?  Is it Sasha?” Children then return to their sleeping position and a different child hides and calls out “Wake up Sleepy!”

cute marmots or groundhogs
Marmots or groundhogs in summer

More daily routine verbs

Verbs: brush your teeth, wash your face, eat your breakfast, go outside

Introduce these verbs briefly with miming games. Play Simon Says, but with these verbs rather than body parts. Rather than using “Simon says”, use the phrase “Wake up Sleepy and…verb”. “Wake up Sleepy and brush your teeth.” Children all mime brushing their teeth. “Wake up Sleepy and go outside”. Children go to the wall or mime popping up out of a marmot burrow. “Wash your face.” Oops! Any child miming face washing sits down for a turn, as the command was not preceded by “Wake up Sleepy.” With 3-year-old children you’ll have to help them by miming yourself when they are supposed to mime, and not miming when they shouldn’t.


Don’t make preschool children lose, it upsets them. Play as a non-competitive group game.

Tell the story

At this point tell the story about Sleepy the groundhog, and then continue with post-story activities, such as acting out the story with sock puppets. Eventually, you want your pupils to act the story out while you tell it.

Get this great story for daily routine verbs

You can buy Sleepy the Groundhog story, and the full lesson plan for daily routine in this great package deal of ten stories, with lesson plans made of games. Flashcards included. Matching songs available too.

Daily routine flashcards are included with the story teaching kit

Silly Sleepy Game

Bring up three children and hide them behind your desk or a blanket that you suspend between furniture, heavy books will hold the blanket in place. One child puts on my groundhog mask (included with the songs that go with these stories). Those watching have to call out “Come out Sleepy!” The three children take turns, but in random order, to quickly stick their head out suddenly. ONLY when the marmot mask appears do the children call out “Groundhog!” or and the first child to call it out comes behind the desk instead of one of the other two, but perhaps not every turn or the whole thing will be too slow. Instead randomly from time to time swap over one of the children.

With younger children give everyone a turn. With young primary kids reward those who react quickly, it’s an additional motivation for the class to be paying attention. If anyone calls out “Groundhog!” when a child is not wearing the marmot mask he or she stands up. After two or three turns, all those standing up do a silly forfeit such as a marmot dance, and then all sit down again and be back in the game.

Keep the class on their toes by having Sleepy pop out from different parts of the blanket, out the top, on the left, on the right and so on. Have multiple appearances such as two children with no mask together.

Get the full set of stories for preschool and young primary school children. 10 great stories. 10 lesson plans with games, pre and post-story ideas, 96 flashcards covering basic vocabulary for beginners learning English, bingo, and more. Full details are here.

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