Recently, the ATMA SEVA team and our volunteers conducted a series of three English camps in five days at three of our partner schools. Each camp was centered around a different theme, following topics the students have been focusing on with each volunteer. The camps are a great way for the students to practice their English conversation in a fun and dynamic way and a chance to speak with many different English speakers. It was also a great chance for us to try out new games, learn more about the students at each school and have a better presence at each location.
Our first camp was held at Bapong School in Doi Saket district. We decided to teach about different English speaking countries around the world with a theme we called, “Passport to English”. We focused on seven different English-speaking countries, including countries that our volunteers and interns are originally from. The students were broken into groups by country, created their own passports with their country with the national flag, information about themselves, and had blank pages for the “visas” from other countries. From there the students rotated between country stations to play a game or activity at each station. The Station games included: song word grab in America, matching animals in Australia, pizza making in Italy, matching sentences in England, teaching a song in France, scavenger hunt in India and a navigation game in a “fake city” in the Netherlands. The group leaders asked for the passports at each station and wrote a phrase or drew a picture as the “visa stamp” for each country. The students enjoyed going on the tour around the world and were excited to show their passports at every station! For the second day, we created activities around a packing list of 27 items that could easily be found at home. (Ex: t-shirt, toothbrush, wallet, batteries, etc.) First we introduced all the items as a group, demonstrating their use and had the students repeat the words out loud. Next we broke back up into our country groups and each group leader took a few items with them to review using the phrase “What is this?” “It’s a ….” The group leaders then rotated to each station with their items so that each team had practice repeating all the objects using the sentences. To review all the items, we played a racing packing game. We collected all the passports from the students to call out random names, and had 2 students come up the front. There we had a table with all 27 items laid out and 2 shopping bags for them to fill. One person wrote 2 lists of 5 items on the whiteboard, while another volunteer kept the lists covered until the race began. When we said go, the students had to look at their “Packing List”, grab the 5 items and pack their bags as fast as they can. The students enjoyed the competition and were excited to help their friends by calling out the items and pointing to them on the table. This game is recommended for a large group to review vocabulary. After lunch in the afternoon we played a series of group competition games with a game called Who’s the Best (see Wiang Hang) and relay races.
For our second camp we went to Pagnew School, another partner school in Doi Saket district. For a one-day camp, we decided to focus on “Body Parts” and played games and activities relating to naming parts of the body. After an opening group game of Birds in the Nest, we reviewed parts of the body using Antoine as a human prop and having the students place labeled post it notes with the correct words on it on him! It was a bit windy that day so some of the post it notes fell off but it was a good way to place words and body parts together with a silly game and visuals. From there we split the kids up into groups by picking different body parts out a hat; the student had to find their match and get into groups. Each group went over the body parts by drawing their own people and labeling the body. This was also a good chance to go over numbers and colors with the kids. In the afternoon, we broke the students up into two groups and played a round of Simon Says and sang “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” and the “Hokey Pokey”! Even though they are simple games, the classics are still a great way to learn! After, we did a few rounds of “Body English” spelling body parts with their bodies! Then we had Relay races with a twist: the kids run to us and we point to a body part and they say the word before running back to their teams. Run, jump on one foot, dance, run like a monkey, were all fun relays. We ended the day with a big group game of freeze tag just for fun!
To finish out the week of camps, we headed up north to Wiang Haeng, where on-site intern Maria has been living and teaching for the last three months. There we had two days of activities and fun games to play with the students, however this camp was not focused on one particular theme, instead we played games to practice and drill vocabulary that the novices knew already but needed to practice. Since we had a large group of English speakers with us, we began by introducing ourselves, go over names and have the students repeat. Then to practice speaking, we split the students up into two teams, lined up next to each other and the volunteers stand in a semicircle across from the two lines. The first students in line run to a volunteer at each end of the semicircle and have to run to each in the circle and say their names correctly before the other student on the other team. After names, each volunteer had a vocabulary card that we went over related to questions in basic conversation, such as “birthday”, “sport” and “favorite”. The students enjoyed the competition aspect of the game and practicing the vocabulary in a fast paced game. After the game, we split the students up into small groups to practice conversation questions one on one with the volunteers. The students practiced basic questions like “What is your favorite sport?” and harder questions like, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and “What DON’T you like?”. The small groups were a good chance for the students to hear the volunteers ask the questions multiple times and to practice asking and answering questions in conversation. The next day we only had a short time in the morning before making the drive back to Chiang Mai, so we played another few rounds of Who’s the Best, and the same relay races we played with the last school.
Thank you to all the schools and volunteers who helped to put on a great series of camps! If you have any specific questions about games and activities or more tips for putting on your own camp, leave a comment below!