Olympics themed summer course ideas


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Last week, a teacher emailed me to ask, ‘Can you help me prepare a vacation course on the Olympics?’ No problem!
When faced with preparing a five-day course it can be somewhat daunting thinking about “filling” the vast stretches of time between 9 am on the first day and 5pm on the last day.  It’s helpful therefore to think of it not as five days but many hour-long lessons.
I would normally keep the morning for intense language learning and the afternoon for related activities such as crafts, cooking, dressing up, songs with choreography and more active outdoor games.  In this teacher’s case since they were focusing on The Olympics I suggested they could think about inventing an athletics track and running an Olympics competition. Obviously you don’t want the most sporty kid to win everything, so you can diversify your Olympics with gold medals for the best picture, the best actor, the best singer, the best hair, the best dancer- whatever, so every child has a medal at the end of the course.  You could also include making the medals in a craft hour when the kids are tired.  There is loads of scope for miming sports and guessing what they are, playing Simon Says + the sport, playing a sport like rounders but to have the right to bat the child has to name particular vocabulary or repeat a short dialogue.
I suggested breaking the morning down into:
1. Drilling new vocabulary and grammar through games
2. Board games and quizzes
3. Working on words for a skit or a song
In the afternoon after lunch I would work on choreography for a song – why not choose a national anthem to tie in with the Olympics theme!? This can be dance moves or actions and/or acting out the story told in the song.  Let those who enjoy dancing do the dance moves but don’t force it on everyone.  Those self-conscious ones who are too shy can do actions they feel comfortable with instead.
Next I suggested working on putting a skit together using language taught during the morning. This builds gradually over the course so that by the end the skit may be performed, with props, by heart, to parents.  I have a couple of skits on sports in my plays and skits book that would be ideal, you can either download them on your Kindle or smart phone or order from Amazon in paperback – see more information here.

Recommended resource for summer courses.  Kindle, paperback and PDF instant download formats.


Finally, at the end of the afternoon, I would play more language games, but boisterous ones where the children run to the end of the garden (or hall) to collect the correct flashcard, play egg and spoon race (to vocabulary you choose), play Twister (using body parts vocabulary) and so on.  The games always have a language purpose but they are less intense than the morning sessions as children will be tired and in need of some fun and play time.  After all the kids are on holiday and if they don’t enjoy the classes they might not show up the next day!
At the end of the course it’s a good idea to put on a show to parents so they can see what they have been paying for, and feel included in their child’s education. Don’t worry, a show may seem daunting but if you break it down it’s easy!
Here are some ideas for content: 
1. Two skits (like those from my plays and skits book).
2. Two songs that the children choose and they should at least be able to sing the chorus and act out the verse.
3. Show off all the vocabulary and language from the units you have covered through vocabulary games that you perform in front of parents.
4. Stage a quiz where one pupil asks the questions (that you have prepared on cards and the other kids are in teams.)  Make sure each team have a buzzer as you could stage it like a TV show.  All the questions come from the work you have been covering during the week – e.g. hold up a picture and they name the word, or you hold up a picture of a tennis racket and a question mark – that means they make a question such as “do you want to play tennis?”
The kids will be very motivated by the idea of showing off to their parents and being the center of attention in a TV show, plus children focus mainly on the short-term so it gives them a purpose for their lessons that is much closer to reality for them than some future point in their lives when it may be useful for them to speak English.

How can I involve parents at my school Open Day


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Question:  I have an open day coming up for parents at my language school to sell our summer vacation English camps.  We will be giving a demonstration class and I would like parents to be involved.  How can I include parents in a game?




You could play the egg and spoon game with the parents and kids together.  Mix up the parents and children though otherwise the parents will probably win!  The egg and spoon race is from the preschool games book and has teams running to the vocabulary you name, or answering a question in English before running with the egg and spoon.


If you want to show something more serious then play a quiz where participants answer all types of questions from vocabulary, to easy questions like: What’s your name? Where do you live?  What colour is this?  Do you like fish? This is basically a giant revision quiz of themes you have been teaching all year.  Parents can be on one team and kids on the other.  Make sure the children win, but it can be close!


Here is the egg and spoon race taken from my preschool games book:

You will need either potatoes or boiled eggs and spoons for each team/person.

Play the classic egg and spoon party game where children race from point A to point B balancing a boiled egg on a spoon. I suggest using potatoes instead of eggs and possibly serving spoons to make it easier. Show the children how to hold the whole handle of the spoon in the middle rather than holding it at the end, as it is a lot easier to balance the potato that way. There is no need to race; completion is the aim. The 5 year old children might enjoy it as a race. If you have too many children to send them all at once, send them in batches.

Step One: Listening

For listening and learning new vocabulary lay out pictures and tell each batch of children or each child if they are going individually, to go to a certain picture, or two or three pictures, before returning back over the start line. The aim is for the child to complete the course without dropping the potato, and also to go to the correct pictures.

 Step Two: Speaking

For speaking, the children must go to the picture at the end, jump on it three times without dropping the potato, while naming it (once on each jump) and return. Swap the pictures around or put out new ones between goes to make it more demanding.

Read more ESL articles and tips here.

“Your resources are already saving me heaps of time and lessening the anxiety from having such a hectic and mixed teaching schedule.  I’m teaching kindy (4 students) , elementary (15 students) and middle school (50 students).”  Anthony Bennett, S. Korea (3 to 5 and 4 to 12 English teaching games)

Easy Games to teach tenses


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Hello, thanks for coming over to read this post on teaching tenses.  I’m afraid that I have moved it over to my website.
I do hope you’ll be able to make one more click to get to it – right here:
See you there!
All the best
Shelley Ann Vernon