Summer Camp is designed for students to enjoy learning and to take them outside of the sometimes boring classroom setting. It is an opportunity to use and to adapt activities to learn and review vocabulary. Learning, innovation and adventure are a big part of summer camp to encourage ESL learning. With this in mind, I designed a week-long action-packed ESL Summer Camp program for young learners in the village of Ampampamena in northern Madagascar. This program encourages students to use their imagination at every moment, all while learning and reviewing English.
Jessica Whitehorne is currently teaching and developing curriculum for young learners in Madagascar. She is a graduate of OnTESOL’s 250-hour TESOL diploma, Teaching English To Young Learners course and Teaching Business English Course.
Access to Outdoor Learning Opportunities
For the past 3 years, the children of Ankarana, have been given the opportunity to thrive with fun, first world educational summer activities. Normally, they would normally not have access to these kinds of activities. Summer Camp is a great way for students to learn and review vocabulary by combining outdoor summer fun with ESL learning. This creates an interactive outdoor experience that invokes students’ imagination as they grow their English language abilities. Students are learning while having fun outside of the classroom setting, all while having a true summer camp experience.
This can be done through many types of activities that bring fun and excitement to ESL learning.
3 English Vocabulary Summer Camp Activities:
Colourful Bracelet making
During our art theme day, students have the opportunity to create bracelets, necklaces and rings from coloured beads. I use this activity to introduce / review colour to students. I separate each colour of beads into cups for each group of students. Each student has elastic string. I start by holding up a colour, saying the colour and having the students repeat it after me. Then as a class we create a bracelet together. A colour is said and each student holds up the colour, repeats the name and then places it on the string. This continues until the class has created a unified bracelet. You can let students take turns in saying a colour to add to the bracelet. After this task, the students then have the opportunity to create their own item freely. They then present the necklace, bracelet or ring to the class, or their group depending on the number of students, by describing what colours they’ve used to create their item. In my experience, this activity works best with students 8-10 years old or older.
This activity helps students review verbs or action vocabulary. Before starting the teacher goes through a list of verbs and demonstrates the actions. The students mimic the action after the teacher. The students work in pairs to complete the race. One student is the racer and the other is the director. The director has a list of verbs ordered from 1-10. For example 1. Run, 2. Stop, 3. Hop 3 times, 4. Jump 4 times…and so on. The student who is directing reads the list one at a time for their partner to complete the action. If their partner completes the action correctly the director can move on to the next action until they complete all actions and the racer reaches the finish line. The pair then switches roles. The team to complete both the actions correctly wins.
1, 2, 3 shine
This is a great game to play to review numbers, especially when you have a large number of students. Students are separated into two groups, opposite each other. There must be the same number of students on each side. Each student in both groups is given a number 1 to how ever many students there are. For example 1- 40. One student from each team has the same number. The teacher places an item in the centre between the two teams, such as a ball. When the student’s number is called, they race to the item to be the first to touch it. Whichever team member touches it first that team gets a point. The game continues until you have gone through all the numbers at least twice. The team with the most points wins. I usually switch up the students assigned numbers after a few rounds to keep them engaged in the activity.
The Importance of Interactive Outdoor Learning
Creating an interactive ESL Summer Camp experience can be challenging, but also an opportunity to create a positive, innovative, outdoor learning experience. With a variety of activities, students use different English vocabulary in a setting that invokes their imagination, creating long lasting learning. Vocabulary games and activities are extremely important to ESL learning. They continue to amuse students and sustain an interest in learning while encouraging the use of the English language in a creative fearless manner. Different vocabulary games and activities continue to create a fun learning experience that doesn’t feel like normal classroom learning.