Friday, January 10, 2014

It's a Small World: Elementary winter English camp - Week 1

This now concludes the first week of my elementary English winter camp.  If you recall, I spent way, way too much time preparing for this. Like, ridiculous amounts of time.  Browsing the web for really great activities, making the PowerPoints, shopping for supplies, etc.  Most of my time was spent on step one though, the planning and looking for activities/games to do.  (And I'm still spending time on the camps this week and next, making sample art projects in the afternoons for the next day's lesson).

Which, by the way, current English teachers: Want to save yourself weeks and weeks of planning for your summer or winter camps? Wish you could just have two weeks of lesson plans, PowerPoints, handouts—everything—done and handed to you? I would have loved to have this option, so I'm making this English camp available for purchase:

I over-planned each lesson on purpose because I never wanted to finish all of our activities with extra time staring me in the face.  What I didn't realize is that I also grossly underestimated the amount of time each activity would take.  Well, sometimes I underestimated on purpose, but I guess I didn't realize the extent.  So here's a summary of what I planned to do this first week, and what we actually did.

Camp Theme: It's a Small World
Class length: 90 minutes
Grades: 3rd/4th, 5th/6th
Note: Every day begins with a warm up, and then singing "It's a Small World". The last 5-10 minutes of every class are for cutting out passport stamps and gluing them into passports. Then students get the date stamp from me.

Day 1: Passports & Antarctica

Lesson Plan

  • Warm-up: Circle ball toss to learn names
  • Song: It's a Small World (learn first verse)
  • Continents: Learn the continents with The Continent Song, and then play a fly-swatter game with the world map.
  • Passports: Each student will make his/her own passport for camp
  • Antarctica: Learn about Antarctica with powerpoint presentation
  • Penguin Relay: Put a squishy die between your knees and walk (like a penguin) about four yards, around a chair, and back to your team.  Then hand the die off to the next student.  Each team is timed, fastest team wins.

Actual Events

We didn't have time for the penguin relay or to glue on passport stamps, so I decided we could push both those activities to Tuesday.

Passport template international children's
Passports made on the first day of English winter camp

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Day 2: Australia

Lesson Plan

Actual Events

We began class with the penguin relay from yesterday, which the kids liked.

Penguin relay elementary game

I skipped "Skippyroo Kangaroo" for a few reasons: we were doing the penguin relay game, the floor is too cold/dirty to sit on, and I'm not sure if everyone knows each other's names. If they didn't know names, there wasn't enough time to learn names and then play.

Since the department store I went to did not have green or yellow construction paper the night I had to do camp supply shopping (with the school credit card), I changed the activity to making Australian dot art. We only needed plain white paper and markers/crayons.

Australian dot art kid art project
3rd/4th grade drawings
Australian dot art elementary art project
My sample is in the top left corner; 5th/6th grade works below

There was no time for Look, Go, Create; hardly anyone finished their Australian dot art.

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Day 3: Kenya

Lesson Plan

  • Warm up: Let Me See Your Funky Chicken
  • Africa: Introduction with powerpoint
  • Kenya: Dot-to-dot map, then follow the directions to label/color maps
  • Day in the Life: Guessing game to learn about an average day for a Kenyan boy, Charles
  • Sparkle: Learn some animals found in Kenya, word search, and then play the sparkle game
  • Charades: Safari animals + emotion (draw one of each: eg-sad elephant, sleepy giraffe)

Actual Events

I'm glad I included Let Me See Your Funky Chicken.  The younger kids were wondering what the heck was going on, why was their teacher doing these crazy actions, but they caught on.  Some of the older girls were very hesitant to join in on the actions, while the boys really got into it.

The map labeling took longer than I'd planned, which was good because I thought my last two activities were weak to begin with.  So we didn't get to play Sparkle or Charades. 

Kenya map activity
Kenya map labeling activity

Notes: The kids were really into the "Day in the Life" game I'd made, which I was pleased about.  When I first found the Time For Kids page with daily schedules of kids from various countries, I knew I wanted to use the material but I wasn't sure how.  Do I make it a matching game, where kids match the time to the activity?  Or do I show the activity and they guess the time?  Could the kids act out / role play a day?

And then the week before camp started, the idea came to me to turn parts of the boy's day into questions with possible answers.  It's interactive, fun, and they're learning about daily life in Kenya -- from a child's point of view.

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Day 4: Ghana

Lesson Plan

Actual Events

To avoid sitting on the cold tile floor, I made a long group of 4 x 2 desks, with chairs on both of the short ends. This worked for our purposes.  I could not find music sticks in the music room, but I did see a basket of yunnori sticks -- so we used those!

The kids are singing too, I'm just too close to the mic!

^^ The volume cuts out for whatever reason near the end, but there's a paper ball under one of the cups. One student has his/her eyes closed until I say stop, and then they guess which cup has the paper ball.

Obiswana took more than my estimated 15 minutes, and in both classes we only had about a half an hour to work on the Kente cloths (which was not enough time for most students).  I collected the unfinished strips from my 3rd/4th graders so they can work on them a little bit tomorrow.  During the chaos of clean-up and passport stamps, I forgot to collect unfinished Kente cloth strips from the 5th/6th graders, so I'm not sure what will happen to those.

Kente cloth paper art project elementary

There was no time for the ampe game, but if you have a few minutes to spare I encourage you to watch Short and Tight to see what this ampe game from Ghana is all about.

Notes: "I spy..." is a simple kids game that I think many Americans are familiar with.  ("I spy with my little eye something that's the color ~."  -or- "... something that starts with the letter ~.")  These kids didn't know the game, so I liked that they were entertained and learned something new when all I had to do was share a game from my childhood.

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Day 5: India & Japan

Lesson Plan

  • Warm up: Human knot
  • India: Learn nine symbols from India
  • Pictionary: Play (blindfolded) pictionary using the nine Indian symbols
  • Henna art: Trace hands and draw Henna designs on them
  • Japan: Learn about Japan with brief powerpoint
  • Fortune Teller: Make paper fortune tellers

Actual Events

On Wednesday I knew that there was no way we'd have time for both art projects on Friday (henna hands and the fortune teller).  I decided to leave off Japan, and we could always make the fortune tellers on the last day of camp, since that's still unplanned (it'll be a review game and/or doing the students' favorite games/activities again).

So we began with the human knot -- both classes loved this.  Both classes were shouting at me "One more time! One more time!" after they successfully untied their first human knot. So I let them play it again.  I think I'll let them play this again next Friday, on the last day.

The first class didn't have time for pictionary, but the second class did.

Taking note of how long it took them to do other art projects during the week, I only instructed the kids to trace one hand for the henna art.  I hadn't made a sample ahead of time, but I worked on one a little bit during each class (I was getting bored standing around).

Henna hands paper art project elementary
3rd/4th grade henna hands

I like to play music while the kids work. So we listened to The Best Hindi songs on repeat while they made their henna hands. In both classes, some students imitated the singer after they'd heard the songs a few times.

henna hands drawing elementary art project
5th/6th grade henna hands -- guess which one's mine!

Note: I was also a little nervous to feature Japan in the first place (but really wanted to make fortune tellers!).  When the country came up in my after school Special English Class earlier this fall, there was clearly negative talk going on.  Not playful jabs, like the U.S. does to Canada, but a strong dislike with a hint of anger. And these are 5th/6th graders!

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Here's what the kids' passports look like after the first week of camp:

Passport stamp template children's international passport
Passport stamps after Week 1
>>>> It's a Small World—Week 2
• • •


  1. I'm very impressed!!! Super work on your part, teacher! I do Africa and Australia with my second graders. Are you willing to share lesson plans?

    1. Of course! I'll send you what I have for those three days: Australia/Ghana/Kenya. While planning there was a children's book mentioned a lot called "Africa is not a Country" -- maybe it'd be worth a look for your Africa unit?

  2. This is SO, so cool!!!! Great job!!!! :)

  3. I think you're a good, passionate and capable teacher! I could get good information thanks to you. Actually I'm a NEW elementary teacher in South Korea. I am considering how I can teach my students interestingly. Could you update and share your teaching? Thank you so much!

    1. Thanks! I'll keep posting lesson plans and games/activities here during this next school year -- the ones worth sharing, of course.

  4. Hello :) i am a new teacher and i would like to buy your camp plan. Is it still available and what is your paypal email address so that i can pay for it?

    1. Hi Lauren! My apologies on the delayed response -- I spent the summer and fall without a computer, working on a conservation corps out in the woods. Yes, both camps are available for purchase here at Gumroad:
      Thanks for your interest!