by Susan Verner
June is a great time to enjoy fresh air and sunshine.
While getting out is great for teachers and students alike, don’t forget to keep language learning moving forward. Here are some activities just for June that will help your students continue to improve their English language skills.
Remember, Keep in mind, you can always adjust these lesson plans or save them for next year if you can’t do them this year.
Use These June Ideas to Spice Up Your Summer
Father’s Day in the U.S. is the third Sunday in June. What makes a great father? That answer depends on a person’s home culture and his or her personal values. Have students discuss what they think makes a great father both in their home countries as well as in their own minds. Encourage your students to use modal verbs as they discuss what the ideal father should, could, might, and ought to be like.
A Father’s Appreciation
Sometimes it’s hard to tell a person how we really feel about them. In honor of Father’s Day, ask your students to put in writing how they feel about their father. Ask each person to write a letter, in English, to their father. The letter should include why they appreciate their dad and at least one special memory they have of their father. If your students do not want to write this letter, either because their father has passed away or for other personal reasons, have them write a letter to a future (or current) child. In the letter, they should explain the type of father (or mother) they hope to be and what special memories they want that future child to have of them. As they write, students should follow the proper format for writing a personal letter.
A Story in a Flag
June 14 is Flag Day, and there is no better reason to learn about flags from around the world. If you are from the U.S., explain the significance of the American flag (thirteen stripes for the original colonies, one star for every state). Then, ask your students to share facts about the flags from their home counties and what their sections signify. If it makes sense with your class, you may want to divide your students by country of origin and have groups give a short presentation to the class, or you may want to divide your class into groups of three or four and have each person talk about their own country’s flag. This is a good time to introduce new vocabulary that relates to history and government.
Design a Flag
While you are celebrating Flag Day, give your students a chance to consider what they think is important to them in a country. Have each person pretend he or she has inherited a deserted island in the middle of the ocean. This island is an independent country, and your student will be in charge of that country. His or her first responsibility will be to design a flag that communicates the island’s history, values, or culture. Give your students some time to design and produce their flags with art materials. Then have them present their flag to the class and explain the significance of its design in a three to five minute presentation. Encourage your students to use some of the government and history vocabulary they learned in the last activity.
Do the Zoo
June is Zoo and Aquarium Month, and if you teach ESL to children, it’s a great reason to include an animal unit in your lesson plans. If you have the resources and permission, plan a trip to a local zoo with your class. Before the trip, talk about the different animals a person might see at a zoo. You might want to use it as an opportunity to brainstorm a list of animals that could be in a zoo as well as a list of animals that could not be in a zoo. Then give your students a map or brochure for your zoo that lists the animals they will see there. Have students choose an animal that they are especially excited to see, and have them read up on that animal. They can share their information with the rest of the class via a presentation, an informational poster, or a written brochure about that animal. In many places, visiting a zoo is not possible right now, so simply have your students select a zoo animal, study them, and present to the class.
Design a Zoo and Aquarium
Challenge your students to design their own display of animal treasures. Studetns can work in groups or on their own to design their own zoo. Their designs should include a poster sized map of their zoo. As they create their zoo, groups should discuss what animals to include and why as well as the habitats they will need and their arrangement. Have each group present their zoo to the class, and then display their posters in your classroom. An alternative is to make a paper zoo.
Pencils in Nature
The first Saturday of June is trail day. Getting your class out of the classroom and into the natural world can recharge their intellectual batteries and bring a fresh attitude back into the classroom. Get your students out of their seats while still getting in language practice with a nature hike. Have students bring a small notepad and pencil on the hike and take notes about what they see (in English, of course). After your hike, compare notes in a class discussion. You might want to build a vocabulary web with nature-themed words. For homework, or if your students are doing school from home, you can have them replicate this activity by going out into their yard with their notebooks.
As our cities grow, buildings are replacing natural forests and parks. Today, many people need to drive to a designated location to experience nature in all its splendor. If you live in the U.S. (and even if you don’t) you can find a list of state parks and forests at Stateparks.com. Have pairs of students click on your state or one they might like to visit and choose a state park. Then, have them research the park or forest and create a brochure for potential visitors. The brochure should include information about the park that a visitor might want to know before visiting. Display the brochures on a bulletin board in your classroom.
A Donut in the Hand
The first Friday of June each year is National Donut Day. The day celebrates this popular breakfast food throughout the U.S., and many restaurants give away free donuts that day. Have your students ever eaten a donut? What kinds have they tried? As a class or in small groups, have students brainstorm the different types of donuts someone might find at a donut shop. Talk about different words that describe how food tastes or the textures food might have (sweet, creamy, crumbly, light, fluffy, etc.) If you are able to, take a class outing to a nearby donut shop to see what flavors they have for sale. If your students are up for sampling, have each person describe how their donut tastes using some of the flavor descriptive words you listed as a class.
Many cultures throughout the world have a version of donuts. Rosquillas in Spain, zeppoles in Italy, and churros in Mexico are all foods similar to donuts. Can your students think of a treat from their home cultures similar to donuts? When do people traditionally eat these foods? Donuts are a popular breakfast, especially for special occasions, but not everyone likes the sweet treat. Have groups of students talk about different foods someone might have for breakfast, and ask each person to talk about their ideal breakfast with their group. Then have students work together to answer the following question. How can you transform your favorite breakfast into a donut? For example, a person who likes scrambled eggs might like a savory donut stuffed with, you guessed it, scrambled eggs. Encourage students to think creatively and be daring in their culinary creations. Have students write a description of their breakfast donut like you might find on a menu, then display the description along with an illustration on a bulletin board in your classroom. For more discussion on food, check out this great worksheet.
Fly a Balloon
June is also National Give a Bunch of Balloons Month. The month is about assisting children who are ill. Students can bring balloons to class, research the event then have a discussion about friends or relatives they know whose health is impacted for some reason and what can be done to help. A gift like a “You’re My Best Friend” notebook/journal will bring joy to a friend.
Make Things Fun
Include a few fun acticities during the month to liven up your daily routine. Ideas include musical games, painting and colors, simple worksheets with drawing, crosswords, and – something even older students can enjoy – storytelling.
What are your favorite June themed activities for your ESL class?
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