Environmentally Powered Language Ideas for the Summer
Children love to head outside for sessions, so why not build a few activities that will work on a variety of skills and long term goals? The summer time provides the perfect backdrop to take a walk and turn it into a lesson that will actively engage everyone while learning, growing, and working on specific language goals.
Summer Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt
Head outside around the area that you teach in. Note summer vocabulary words that you can use on a scavenger hunt. Create an outdoors summer scavenger hunt sheet. This should incorporate the words and possibly have a picture to go with it for younger children. If you laminate this sheet, kids can use a dry erase marker to cross off items as they find them. The purpose of this activity is to encourage the use of new vocabulary with younger children and help them to gain confidence using them. Possible words could include: bird, flower, ball, ant, butterfly, cloud, sun, flag, tree, and playground. Include a dozen or more words for the activity.
While out for your walk, encourage conversation with the children. Ask questions about the surroundings. Have them make observations about the items that they find on the check list. Have them use the word in a sentence as they describe where it was located. As a tie-in to home, send a copy of the scavenger hunt home with an explanation. You could also have the word in the families other language listed underneath to shine the light on their multilingual identity. Encourage families to add items to their list because they know their area and what can be found there.
Journal Time Outside
Children of all ages like to write, draw, and share what they have been doing over the summer. Provide each child with a small journal that you can make or purchase. Older children may take this home with them and return it during their next session to share. Practice asking questions about whatever they write. Have them add more details to the information and allow them to clarify items that group members ask. For younger children, you can take the books outside and keep track of words that you find that go along with letter sounds being worked on. Make a page for each letter of the alphabet or specific start/end sounds. There are no limits with the journal and it can be used over the summer and share growth as the new school year begins.
Encourage parents to participate and send home journals for them to look at with the children. If they have something to add, invite them to add something special for their children into it. Perhaps a special summer time activity that is special in their culture that they can share with other children in the group.