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Teaching Tips Tuesday: Add Some Summer Fun to Your English Lessons

Slices of watermelon on a cutting board.

While teaching English in places such as South Korea and Thailand, it’s common to be responsible for facilitating “English Camps” when school’s out. The ideas below are perfect for a summer themed camp, or for teachers looking to add some summertime sun and fun into their English lessons by practicing vocabulary and expressions associated with summer plans and common summery things.

Here are five ways to add some summer fun to your English lessons:

Bags of ice in a freezer.

Bags of ice in the freezer to make ice cream.

Shake Things Up with Homemade Ice Cream

Making homemade ice cream gets students up and moving around the classroom, and helps them practice action words associated with a recipe such as add, mix, shake.

Materials (per group of four students):

  • One small plastic bag
  • One large plastic bag
  • Newspaper for padding
  • Spoons
  • Cups or dishes

Ingredients (four servings):

  • One bag (or two trays) of ice
  • Six spoonfuls of salt
  • Two spoonfuls of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of milk
Students added ingredients to a bag of ice.

Students adding ingredients to a bag of ice to make ice cream.

How to Make Ice Cream:

  • Mix milk and sugar in the small plastic bag.
  • Add ice and salt in the large bag.
  • Put the small bag inside the larger one.
  • Wrap the bags within newspaper for insulation (and so hands don’t get too cold).
  • Have students take turns shaking the bags for a total of ten minutes.
  • Open up the bag and serve your homemade ice cream!
A group of students running in a schoolyard.

Students running to look for clues during a schoolyard hunt.

All Around the School Hunt

Having students hunt for clues all around the school gets them out of the classroom, and hopefully outside to soak up some sun. A school-wide hunt works well for lessons focusing on prepositions of place, and/or vocabulary words associated with items around a school.

Recommendation: Have the clues lead to some type of snack, prize, or reward at the end for an added incentive.

Notes: Give yourself plenty of time to plan your course(s) ahead of time, and ensure you have all clues hidden around the school beforehand.

A clue for a scavenger hunt taped to a wall.

A clue for a school scavenger hunt taped to the side of a wall.

Some More S’mores, Please

If you or your students have never tasted s’mores before, you’re in for a real treat. S’mores are a popular snack that go hand-in-hand with summer. In the United States, for example, s’mores are most often eaten while camping, or really any time there’s a fire to roast marshmallows. Why are they called s’mores? Because when you eat one s’more, you almost always want “some more”!

Making s’mores during a lesson provides an opportunity for students to practice using some more when asking and answering questions. S’mores also go along with units on camping, or just cultural summertime activities in general.

Materials:

  • Candles (or a portable electric/gas burner)
  • Chopsticks
  • Plates or tissues

Ingredients (per s’more):

  • One or two marshmallows
  • Two graham crackers*
  • Chocolate

*You can substitute various sweet crackers, or even chocolate-covered biscuits for both the chocolate and graham crackers.

Ingredients to make S'mores.

Making s’mores in the classroom with different ingredients.

How to Make S’mores:

  • Stick the marshmallow(s) on the end of a chopstick and roast them over a flame.
  • Put the chocolate on one half of the graham cracker.
  • Place the roasted marshmallow(s) on top of the chocolate.
  • Set the other graham cracker half on top of the roasted marshmallow.
  • Lightly press down to sandwich together the s’more.
  • Enjoy the yummy, sticky mess!

Recommendation: Metal chopsticks (or other utensils) are safer than wooden ones.

Notes:

  • Ask your school/colleagues for permission to make s’mores prior to building a “campfire” in the classroom.
  • Closely supervise younger learners so as to not burn the building down.
Roasting marshmallows over small candles.

Students roasting marshmallows over small candles in the classroom.

Jiggly, Giggly Water Balloon Fun

On a particularly hot summer day, or perhaps the last day of your summer fun English Camp, throw in some water balloons to help cool off. There are many ways to incorporate the use of water balloons into an English lesson. Below are two ideas to help students practice target vocabulary and language while competing in a friendly team competition.

Materials: 

  • Two buckets or large bowls (per team)
  • Many water balloons (at least 12 per team for each initiative)
Students toss a water balloon.

Students toss a water balloon during a class activity in the summer.

Water Balloon Toss

How to Play:

  • Divide your class into teams of five or six students.
  • Have two teams stand in a straight line with at least five feet of space in between each student.
  • Set two buckets or bowls at the beginning and end of both lines.
  • The first student in each line picks up a water balloon and tosses it to the next.
  • This continues from student to student until it makes it to the end of a line.
  • If a water balloon falls and/or breaks, the team must start over with a new one.
  • Once a balloon reaches the end if a line, the last student must place it in the container and ask or answer a question with a teacher.
  • If he or she is correct, they can turn around and run to the beginning of the line to pick up the next water balloon.
  • All students move up one place in line so that everyone will eventually practice the English vocabulary and expressions for the summer lesson.
  • Whichever team has the most amount of balloons in the bucket or bowl at the end of a certain amount of time wins!
Two girls stand back-to-back in a water balloon relay.

Two students carry a water balloon back-to-back during a team relay race.

Back-to-Back Water Balloon Relay

How to Play:

  • Divide your class into larger teams (of eight to ten students).
  • Have two teams stand in a straight line behind a bowl or bucket on one end, and set the other container to collect the balloons on the other end of the play area.
  • The first two students must stand back-to-back and link arms (as seen above).
  • A student behind them on their team places a water balloon between their backs.
  • When it’s time to start, the two students quickly try to reach the other end where they must carefully drop the water balloon into the container.
  • If the balloon pops or falls, they must run to the beginning and start over.
  • Once a balloon is safely dropped into a container on the opposite end of the start line, the pair of students then turns to face each other to practice the target language for the lesson before returning to the start line.
  • The next two students in line may begin only after the two before them have returned.
  • Whichever team has the most balloons in their container when time runs out wins!

Recommendations: 

  • Fill up the water balloons before class, and have everything set up in a designated area outside.
  • Have your students bring a change of clothes or at least towel to dry off.
  • Depending on time and the size of your class, try doing both the water balloon toss and back-to-back relay as a tournament. The winning team for each round goes onto the next and competes with a new team until there’s only one winner.

Note: Having no more than two teams compete against each other at once helps ensure students are correctly practicing their English!

A student bites watermelon in the summer.

A student eats watermelon in a classroom.

A Bite of Summer Sweetness

Watermelon is the perfect snack to slice up and share with your students when temps heat up. It could also be utilized in a summer-themed English lesson in various ways.

  • Try doing a seed-spitting contest
  • Have your students create a silly story about what happens if a person eats a watermelon seed
  • See which team can make the most creative watermelon carving

Watermelon also serves as a way to practice summertime fruit vocabulary. And the best part is, it’s refreshing after spending time outdoors!

A bucket full of water balloons.

A bucket full of water balloons for summer activities.

Who’s excited for some summer fun!? Your students will most definitely be, especially if they have to attend a summer English Camp, summer lessons, or are just antsy to start their summer holiday a few days too soon.

The more time you put into preparing these summery activities for your students the more effective they’ll be! Keep in mind most of them are better suited for younger learners, but all could be adapted to fit a variety of ages and levels. Although the activities featured in this teaching tips blog post call for a minimal amount of materials, you might not be able to find everything you need where you’re teaching English overseas. Be resourceful and check out these other teaching tips for more ideas!

 

What favorite summertime activity would you use in the classroom? Share below!

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