Activities for Summer School ESL

Activities for Summer School ESL

by Judie Haynes

Teaching summer school is often a challenge because the range of English language ability and grade levels in a single class can be very broad. You may find yourself with a mix of students who are not literate in native language with those who are. Second graders may be placed with 5th graders; non-English speakers with intermediate English language learners.

In order to accommodate the wide range of abilities in your summer school ESL class, try and teach English through thematic units. The advantage of doing this is that students can work in small groups or individually on various projects relating to a common theme. With this theme of Summer Fun Intermediate students can research and write a summer safety book while beginners learn the basic vocabulary for bicycle safety and draw pictures to illustrate a list of bike safety rules.

Lesson Topic

Summer Fun

Grade/Proficiency Level

Grades 2-8 beginning to intermediate ESL


To provide students with information about summer fun in your own town and to review summer safety rules.

Instructional Sequence

1. Do the activities found at Happy Birthday America! Include information about parades and fireworks in your town on the 4th of July. Have a birthday cake in class to celebrate America's birthday.

2. Look at this list of Scholastic's Summer Reading Buzz. Give each child a list of three books at their level to look for and check out of the town library. Include a class visit to your local library and help students get a library card if possible. Be sure to review the care of library books with your new students.

3. Teach students about hot air ballooning.

4. Post a map of your town, state or the United States. Have students discuss where they are going for vacation. If your ELL population doesn't go on summer vacations, older students can plot out an imaginary trip while younger students can draw and label favorite summer activities around your town.

5. Teach students how to make paper airplanes and hold an airplane flying contest. Go to Paper Airplanes for easy airplane directions. For older students you may want to try to make a class kite from the Aloha site.

6.Celebrate summer and foster English writing skills by having students send electronic post cards. Have each student find someone to write to and help them choose a July postcard at 1001 Post Cards.

7.July is Ice Cream Month. Create drawings and writing around one of this theme. Use the Ice Cream Patterns and have everyone write about their favorite ice cream flavor or graph everyone's favorite ice cream. Read students "Ice Cream Soup" by Gail Herman (1990) or "Curious George Goes to an Ice Cream Shop," by Margaret Rey and Allen J. Shalleck. /icecream.shtml">ChildFun.Com.

8. Summer theme origami is good for teaching students to listen carefully and follow directions. Try a few simple origami activities from Origami Page. A whale, boat, or bird is not too difficult for an 8-11 year old child to do.

9. Take advantage of the outdoor recreation in your area. Whether it be camping, fishing, swimming, biking, or hiking that is popular in your area of the world, teach your students about it. Those interested in fishing, for example, can find information at Fishing ABC's Coloring Book.

Another site for for young students is summer activities.

Teach about Summer Safety

Use one of the following PDF files to teach about safety in the summer. Have more advanced students research and write a summer safety booklet. Beginning students can use one of the safety lists to learn safety vocabulary and draw pictures to go with each rule. Bike or water safety are good ones for beginners.

  • Water Safety Video for Children.
  • Fire Safety for Kids
  • Thunderstorm Safety.
  • Bike Safety Tips
  • Railroad Track Safety.
  • Vacation Food Safety.
  • Don't Talk to Strangers Video.

  • Activity Downloads

    Note: To view the classroom activities, you must have Acrobat Reader intalled. Acrobat is a free application available from Adobe Systems.

    PDF fileBalloon Puzzle (2k .PDF)

    PDF fileHot Air Balloon (60k .PDF)

    PDF fileBalloon Fact Sheet (2k .PDF)

    Related Links

    Happy Birthday America!
    Your new English language learners are eager to participate in the holidays celebrated in the United States. This lessons includes activities about the United States flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, and other July 4th activities.

    Safety First!
    Many of the safety issues which are crucial for our newcomers are taught during the regular school year. Even if your new English languge learners attended school for the entire year, it is possible these important lessons were not understood.

    Getting Started with English Language Learners: How Educators Can Meet the Challenge
    This new book by Judie Haynes will provide you with basic concepts and canít-miss strategies for boosting the achievement of your English language learners whether youíre new to teaching ELLs or an old hand. Real-life scenarios from actual classrooms are presented to illustrate strategies.