Games & Activities for English Kids Camp (Beginner ESL)
I recently taught a three-day English camp to elementary grades 1 & 2 (combined) and grades 3 & 4 (combined). It wasn't really a 'camp' but additional English classes held in the gym during the school break. Here are some ideas I used:
Greetings (or Introductions) with Ball-Catching
Have the students make a circle. Pick a student and say "Hello Kenji, how are you?". Throw Kenji the ball. Kenji then does the same thing to another student. If they don't drop the ball, add more balls.
Sit on Each Others' Laps in a Circle (without chairs)
This can be a good teamwork-building exercise. Try to get the children to sit on each other, without chairs, in a circle. Explaining it in English is a challenge but that's what communication is all about. The end result should look like this (note: these aren't my students):
Blindfolded Fukuwarai with Obstacle Course
This is a combination of two activities. Put students in groups of 3. At the end of the room (or field), draw a large circle on the chalk board or whiteboard. If you are outside, lay a hula-hoop on the grass. Tell your students that this is a face, and that they will have to draw the eyes, nose, and mouth, while blindfolded. Teach your students 'up', 'down', 'right', left'.
Put them, in groups, on the other side of the room/field. In between them and the circles, place a bunch of obstacles (e.g. a vacuum, ropes, chairs, etc.). Blindfold one of the students in a group. Spin him around 4 times and face him in a random direction. Tell his partners that they'll have to give directions to the student so he can get to the circle and draw the first body part (eyes). Review giving directions ("Go straight. STOP. Turn right. Turn left." etc). When ready, blindfold one person from each group and have them start. If they touch an obstacle, make them go back to the starting point.
Once they get to the circle at the other side, give them a marker (or a ball if you are making eyes in a hula-hoop on the ground) so they can 'draw' the eyes. Once done, unblindfold them, and have them go back to the start. Blindfold the next kid, who will be responsible for drawing the nose. Continue until the face is drawn. When done, compare faces and have a good laugh.
I found this activity on another site. Basically, it's a relay race involving bananas. Put the kids in groups of 3 or so. Give each group a banana. Have them do a series of races to one end of the gym (or to a determined spot about 4 meters away) and back. Variations include:
- Run with the banana in your armpit to the line and back. Then hand it to your partner. Once everyone has gone, give a point to the winning group.
- Run with the banana between your ear and neck (telephone style).
- Walk with the banana balanced on your head.
- Walk with the banana between your knees.
- Crawl with the banana on your back.
Et cetera. In the end, I regretted using real bananas because they got smushy and got in the clothes (and in the hair!) of a few of the little kids. It was fun though =). If you use real bananas, use the relays in which the banana is likely to get smushed towards the end.
Marco Polo-style "Where Are You?" Game
Delineate a small area for the game (e.g. a 3m squared area, but it depends on how many kids you have). Get everyone to go into the game area. Blindfold yourself. Ask "Where are you?" to the students. Tell them they must answer "Over here!" Continue asking "Where are you?" until you are able to tag one of the students by using the sound of his/her voice to pinpoint his/her location. The tagged student is then blindfolded and becomes 'it'.
- It can be pretty hard to tag someone. To make it easier for the blindfolded person, I told my kids that they couldn't run and that they had to stay within the defined area.
- Even with no running, it was pretty hard. So I gave the non-blindfolded students a spoon with a bean on it. I told them that if they dropped the bean from the spoon, they were out. This slowed them down a little.
Spelling Words with Body
We didn't do this but there are probably several great activities that involve children using their bodies to make the letters in the English alphabet. For example, you could put the students in groups of 4 or so, and see which group can spell their names out using their bodies the fastest. There are probably other (better) ideas.
What Time is it Mr. Wolf
Put the students behind a line at one end of the gym (or area). You, Mr. Wolf, should go to the other end of the gym. Turn your back on them. Have them ask you "What time is it Mr. Wolf?" Turn your head, take a look at them and say "6 o'clock" (or whatever time you want). If you say 6 o'clock, that means the students must take six steps towards your end of the gym (and you). After answering, turn your head back and face the opposite direction. Let the students ask you again. Repeat the process, making the kids step closer and closer towards you. Finally, when you think they are close enough to tag, respond to the question with "Lunch time!!" and then turn around and try to tag one of the kids. If they kids succeed in running back to their start position without being tagged, they are safe. The kid who is tagged must be the wolf next.
There is also a version of this game where the kids are "safe" if they manage to get to your side of the area (to the wall, or past a certain line) before "lunch time" is called out.
We built a circular obstacle course in the gym for the kids to run around. We used a balance beam, a vaulting box, etc. To make it more educational, I put flash cards that they had studied already (e.g. weather, colors, fruit) in the course. The kids had to say the flash cards when they walked on it.
Duck Duck Goose
This is a traditional kids game. Have the students sit on the ground in a circle, facing inwards. Walk around the outside of the circle. Each time you pass a student, tap him or her on the head and say 'Duck.' At some point, pick a student and say 'Goose' instead of 'duck.' The goose must then stand up and try to tag you. Your goal is to run around the circle and sit down back in the goose's place before the goose tags you. If you succeed, you can sit and the other student becomes the one who stands and says "duck, duck, goose."
And these were the activities I used. Hopefully you can use a few of them for your English kids camp.
Good luck and play safe!
– Matthew Barton / Englishcurrent.com