It’s frustrating when you say goodbye to your young learner students for the summer. You know that when you see them in the fall, they’ll have forgotten lots of the language they learned in the previous term. This phenomenon is called summer learning loss, and it’s something that affects students of every age and stage.
So, how can you encourage your students to keep practicing their language skills over the holidays? There are apps and online activities – but after a year of online teaching and digital learning, the summer is a good opportunity for your young learners to disconnect and enjoy some time offline. So here are some activities to suggest to your students and their parents. There are no screens in sight, and the whole family can enjoy practicing English together:
Go on a nature scavenger hunt
Get your students out into the fresh air with a nature scavenger hunt. Make a list of things for your students to find in their garden or local park. For younger students, you can keep the list simple, with things like trees, grass or flowers, linking them to colors or numbers. For older students, you can make the scavenger hunt a bit more challenging by including specific species of tree, flower or insect.
Here is an example of a scavenger hunt list for inspiration.
This offline activity reinforces the links between English and the natural world. It helps to build children’s observational skills and builds their natural vocabulary along with their gross motor skills. What’s more, multiple studies have shown that spending time in nature is enormously beneficial for children, restoring their attention, reducing their stress and helping them to become more creative and engaged in learning.
Learn how to help your students connect with nature in the classroom.
Follow a recipe
For this activity, choose a recipe that you think your students will enjoy making.
Cakes or cookies are popular choices – most young learners have a sweet tooth! Then, with their mom or dad, your students can make a shopping list of the ingredients they need, buy them from the supermarket, then follow the steps of the recipe.
Here are some ideas for kid-friendly recipes from the BBC.
This type of offline activity helps young learners use their English in a practical way. It will develop their vocabulary and link their English language skills to other skills like math and science. Following a recipe from start to finish teaches children how to follow instructions and problem-solve. It also builds their fine motor skills as they pour, stir and chop. They’ll get a big boost to their confidence when they take their cake out of the oven – and they’ll be able to share that success with their family and friends. After all, nearly everyone likes cake!
Read a story
Reading has numerous benefits for children (and adults too). It is good for building vocabulary, developing creativity and promoting empathy. What’s more, reading has been shown to dramatically reduce stress levels. It’s the perfect antidote to too much screen time, and a good way for students to maintain their English level over the summer. But it’s important to make sure the level of the text is correct. If it’s too difficult, your students will be frustrated and put off. It’s important for reading to be enjoyable!
Suggest some graded readers for your students.
Older students can read independently, but you can also suggest some books for your students to read with their parents. Reading aloud together is a really positive way for parents and children to spend time together. It has a positive impact on children’s self esteem, and it builds up good associations with reading which will hopefully encourage them to become independent readers.
Learn how to read a map
This activity involves a little bit of preparation on the part of your students’ parents – but it’s a fun activity and gets children outdoors and away from screens! Encourage parents to open up local maps, and have children select somewhere they’d like to visit. Then, your students can create a navigation guide in English, building on their vocabulary of directions and surroundings to describe the route.
Here are some more map-related activities for families.
Learning how to read a map and following directions is a good cognitive exercise, as well as physical exercise. It helps young learners to solve problems and builds their decision-making and observational skills.
Do some experiments
Suggest some DIY science experiments for your young learners to do at home. Just like the recipe challenge, students will need to make a list of the materials they’ll need, and gather all the components of the experiment before setting everything up. Then, they will follow the instructions in English and see how their experiments turn out!
Here are some great ideas for science experiments.
Science experiments are a great way of nurturing children’s intellectual curiosity and developing their critical thinking skills. It also encourages learners to solve problems and analyze results. Who knows, you could even be planting the seed of a STEM career in future years!
Hopefully, your students will embrace offline activities in English this summer, and return to school in the fall ready to keep improving their language level.