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Super Simple Summer Activities Series: Pt 1

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Super Simple Summer Activities Series: Pt 1

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3 activities to whet your appetite – more to come!

It’s that time of year again when many of us TEFLers are off at a summer camp or summer school. Our goals tend to be more communicative, the atmosphere more relaxed, our learners more energised. We may also have additional activities like sports afternoons and drama clubs etc.

Are you teaching YL this summer?

Do you have…

  • Large classes?
  • Mixed Ability?
  • High spirited kids on “holiday” with energy to burn?
  • No time or energy for anything that isn’t super simple and super easy to prepare?

I’ve got you covered with these no-fuss, low(to no)-prep, faithful old favourites.

Port – Starboard 

starboard_port_1_large_320wide

Picture source: https://www1.toronto.ca

 

What: Listen and do game

Who: Great for 7-11, but any age really

Resources needed: None, just space

As a kid this was one of my favourite games at summer camps. The basic premise is that a teacher/leader calls out prompts. The students do the appropriate action. E.g. leader calls out “port!” and the students run to the left of the room. Leader calls out “Starboard” and the students run to the right of the room etc. Last one to do the action is out. Last person standing is the winner. Simple. Adaptable. Fun. Super!

Upon googling this fabulous game I stumbled across this amazing resource , a list of different actions and extra ideas for the basic game.

I love the original game, but I love how the basic premise is so adaptable. Last week my 8 year old learners were doing animals and habitats but had so much energy to burn they could have run a marathon. We played our own version of port-starboard with connected animal and habitat vocabulary. It was a real hit!

Zombie

zombie

What: Vocabulary drilling with a difference

Who: 3-8 love it, but no reason you can’t go older.

Resources needed: Flashcards*

*Don’t have flashcards? No problem. Students could draw the pictures. Students could write the words on a slip of paper. No paper no pens? Also no problem. Students could choose an action and act out the word they are allocated (or choose).

The first time I did this with my pre-schoolers (as they were zombie obsessed) I had no idea it would become such a hit.

  • All students stand in a circle facing other (but could equally be scattered around a room or garden). Each student has a flashcard.
  • One student in the middle is the Zombie.
  • The student in the middle holds their arms up like a zombie and walks toward any other student. But, they must chant the word for the card that student has over and over in a zombie like voice. e.g. “appppplleee….apppllleee…apppllleee”
  • The child holding the apple card needs to say the name of another item being held up by another student.
  • If the student says another word before the zombie reaches and touches them, the zombie must change directions and head for the new word, again, chanting the new word. If the zombie touches the student before they say one of the words another student is holding, they become the zombie.

Super easy. Super adaptable. Super fun.

Enjoy!

Fruit Salad

fresh-fruit-salad-11284477825iWun

What: Vocabulary or grammar game

Who: All ages depending on how it’s adapted

Resources needed: Chairs

I think everyone knows this game, right? But maybe by a different name? It’s an oldie but a goody. and SO so easy to set up, play, adapt.

Students sit on chairs in a circle. There should be one fewer chairs than students and the student without a chair stands in the centre of the circle.

In the simplest version of the game the teacher would allocate different fruits to the children. e.g. walk around saying pear, banana, apple, orange, pear, banana, apple, orange until everyone is given a fruit. The child in the middle then calls out a fruit. e.g. “banana” and all the bananas must stand up and change seats. Meanwhile the child in the middle runs to an empty chair. The child left without a seat is the next to call out a fruit. for added fun, if the centre child calls out “fruit salad!“, EVERYONE must stand up and run.

I like to use this at the beginning of summer programmes to work out what learners can and can’t do. I get them to say anything at all about themselves and students, for whom the information is also true, get up and change. e.g. “I have a brother” “I like chocolate”. 

It’s so easy to adapt. Anything from “Stand up if you’re wearing blue”, “I’ve never been to Paris”, to “This time next week I’ll be on holiday”. Vocabulary and structures practices are only limited by the teacher’s imagination.

Enjoy!

Extra

If you do have time for a bit more prep, here is a summer school/camp idea from last year. Especially good for dog lovers!

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Food for thought: The role of play in TEVYL (Teaching English to Very Young Learners)

Who doesn't like a table full of enticing food that you can choose from as you wish?

Who doesn’t like a table full of enticing food that you can choose from as you wish?

The school year started this week here in Prague and it was a big week for my family as my twins started preschool. It’s big for them and big for me as it means I’m changing my workload and routine after more than 3 yrs on (semi) maternity leave.

This past weekend the kids and I attended a princess and superheroes party. The kids loved it as they got to dress up and I loved it as the birthday girl is Korean and her mummy made an enormous plate of yummy gimbap. Mmmmm.

It didn’t take long for the conversation in the mummy circle at the Princess and Superheroes party to turn to preschool. One of the mums commented to me that she didn’t want her child in state preschool as it was “basically babysitting”. When I asked her what she meant she elaborated, “Well they can’t possibly do stuff with them when there are so many kids for only one teacher”. I assume by “do stuff” she meant some kind of structured activity. Whilst she does have a point that our state preschools are understaffed, in defense of the hard working teachers, I replied that firstly, I have taught in Czech state preschools and assure her that with patience and practice it is indeed possible to “do stuff” with up to 28 preschoolers, and that secondly, free play is really important and that whilst it might look like babysitting, the environment is such that the kids are learning valuable skills. She gave me a ‘let’s agree to disagree’ kind of look so I left it there and wished her kids well. Besides, there was more yummy gimbap to be eaten and who doesn’t love a table full of food to choose from? That’s something we can surely all agree on 😉

As part of my ‘new school year resolutions’, I have decided to read a teaching/EFL/YL related article every day. When I saw the below article posted in a ‘Bumps, Babies and Toddlers’ facebook group I belong to, I decided to make it my article of the day as it’s relevant to both my professional and personal life right now. Whilst I don’t plan to write about every article I read. I do want to share this one. Or at least this line of thought…

Click here to read: The decline of play in preschoolers and the rise in sensory issues

Whilst I’m not fully convinced it’s so cut and dry, I do believe we need to be more mindful (and by we I mean both parents and educators) of the importance of play in preschool and reading this article brought me back to thoughts that have been running through my mind for the past 3 years.

While doing my MA, particularly my dissertation which focuses on VYL,  I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of play (in general), but more specifically, how to really foster it and incorporate it into TEFL (or as I use in the heading, TEVYL). In the above article the author talks about parents and their desperation to fill their kids to the brim with ‘academic’ activities as early as possible and I feel this is especially relevant when it comes to teaching English to VYL. How many of our learners parents are paying for English class because they want their kids to have a ‘head start’? How many of our schools advertise our classes that way? How can we find a happy balance between embracing play, and more importantly free play, whilst still keeping our fee paying parents happy?

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of seeing the wonderful Sandie Mourao speak at the International House Young Learners Conference (which was this year held in Torres Vedras). One of the highlights for many of us at the conference was hearing Sandie speak about ELAs (English Learning Areas) in pre-primary classrooms. Such a simple, brilliant and yet obvious idea. Why weren’t more of us doing it already? We left Sandie’s session and the conference feeling both inspired and incredibly envious of those that already had the resources to implement such a project. Our minds were buzzing with ways to incorporate this idea into our own contexts. Below is a link to the project report which is well worth reading and one possible way to include more play in TEVYL.

Click here to read: English Learning Areas in the pre-primary classroom: An investigation of their effectiveness

What do you think? Food for thought?

And since you took the time to read until the end, as an added bonus on the topic of play, how cool are these free printables?

Click here to see 32 FREE pretend Play Printables

Princess Turkey and Spiderman

Until next time….

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