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ESL Summer Camp activity ideas

Previously, I wrote about ESL summer camps, in particular, one that I worked on last year in Poznan, Poland. The response I got from the blog gave me the idea to highlight how I combine creativity and ESL teaching.

In total I delivered a range of activities/lessons for age groups between 6-18 ticking the boxes of curiosity, creativity and excitement; children animal photography workshops, circle games, indoor and rainy games, nature games and Olympic sports games.

Activity ideas – ages 6-13 Photography lesson
Start with the basics in photography composition, in my case, I made a PowerPoint presentation showing examples of each rule;

  • Rule of thirds
  • Leading lines
  • Fill the frame
  • Symmetry and patterns
  • Negative spaces
  • Point of view

With this done you can use the lesson for the following summer camp activities:

  1. Scavenger hunt – put them in teams and ask them to create x5 photos using each composition rule
  2. Creative writing – using the location of the camp ask them to take a photograph of something and write a short story about it
  3. Newspaper/magazine – ask them to report the news, what’s happened in camp; gossip, lessons, teachers, weather, actives, food, location, etc
  4. Film workshop – designing your own animation strips using templates provided to create a historical zoetrope

Point 5, let’s make a pre-film animation device for more creative activities. Instructions – how to make a zoetrope using the template provided.

Step 1 Materials

  • X1 sheet of black card
  • X1 plastic plate
  • White paper (for the animation strips)
  • Pencils
  • A long ruler
  • String
  • Glue stick
  • Sticky tape

Step 2 Measure and cut cylinder

  • The template shows 26.5cm in width and 6.5cm in length
  • Each slit is 0.2cm wide and 2cm long with a 4cm gap
  • There should be 12 in total

Step 3 Make a circle

  • Once the template is cut use sticky tape to join the two and make a circle
  • This is why the black card is used for the outer body
  • Place the body on the plastic plate as shown

Step 4 Spinning

  • Measure out a 30cm piece of string x4 times
  • Attach it to the plastic plate base
  • Spin and see the animation come to life

Activity ideas – ages 14-18 Film Noir workshop
For this activity, project groups will get tasks of creating short films based on Film Noir, using dialogues from films like North by North West.

With this done you can use the lesson for the following activities:

  1. Film night – show relevant films to the students as inspiration and ask them to note key dialogues, therefore, increasing vocabulary
  2. Film quiz – tell students that there will be a quiz about the film, this can be done the following evening
  3. Create a film – using smartphones, location, project groups and guidance of the ESL teachers based on the camp’s theme
  4. Black and white portrait photography – make a list of words and ask them to react; sad, happy, love, anger, etc
  5. Storytelling – around a campfire or during BBQs
  6. Mafia game – team games, ice-breakers and popular with summer camps

I hope these activities have been useful tips for newly qualified ESL teachers and those wishing to start a career in teaching English abroad. Watch this space for more TEFL advice/tips on teaching English abroad.

Blog by Jordan Rodgers Native English Language Teacher

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