One of the very best things I’ve done as a Spanish teacher is start up a Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica at the high school where I teach. This has been a lot of work, but also incredibly rewarding. The thing about an SHH chapter is that it is really up to the sponsor to determine how active it will be… and that requires setting up activities and projects.
By far, our biggest and best service project has been a summer Language Camp for kids. Caitlin Howard, co-sponsor of SHH, did this when she taught in Florida and we were eager to copy this idea! Since our school happens to also have a French Honor Society, helmed by Jennifer Reschly, we decided to pair up and work together. You could also do this camp with Spanish only, as Caitlin did in Florida, and it will be awesome either way.
That being said, $25 per camper worked out well for us. Our costs were low, because the high school student Camp Counselors participated in exchange for service hours (we require 10 per year, and if they worked each day of camp, it knocked out all they needed for the upcoming school year). The cafeteria was free. The snacks and craft supplies were not terribly expensive, maybe $100 or so for the week. And we had 40 kids sign up. The meant that this camp ended up being a HUGE fundraiser for our SHH!!
You may be saying, “Whoa, what!? Forty kids!?” Yes, all ages 4-10!! We ended up splitting the kids into two groups, ages 4-5 and 6-10 (we had a ton of little ones). And it worked out great!
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So, without further ado, here is what you’ll need to run your own Language Camp!
1. The Camp Counselors – We started with a meeting of our SHH students and officers to pick the themes for each day. Since we partnered with the French students, they came, too. We decided our topics would be: Weather, Numbers, Colors, Animals, and Food.
2. The Curriculum – Once the students had picked the topics, the teachers and students (who chose a day they wanted to lead and teach) sat down and made a list of ten words in Spanish and French. For example, on Animals day, the Spanish lesson would be on under-the-sea animals and French would do farm animals.
3. The Lesson – After we came up with the list of words, we assigned the “teachers” (the high school SHH students) the job of making picture flash cards. They could print them in color, print black and white and then color them in, or draw them from scratch. Then, they had to mount them to colorful construction paper. At the start of each day’s lesson, this is how the “teachers” would introduce the vocabulary.
4. The Activities – We planned for a song, game, and/or craft for each day. This ranged from finger painting animals on paper plates to Simon Says in the hallway to watching a children’s video in the target language. As we planned, we made our supply list of what we would need to buy for that day. We also tried to balance with what the French group was doing. For example, no need to do paint in both groups on the same day.
5. The Logistics – Camp finally arrived! Along with 40 little kids (and we stuck a name tag on them as soon as they walked in the door!)
What we did was group them ages 4-5 and 6-10, to have approximately 20 kids per group. The little kids went to Spanish first for about 45-50 minutes and the big kids went to French first. Then, we stopped and had a themed snack. For example, on Animal Day, we gave them animal crackers and juice boxes. The high school counselors sat with them and quizzed them on the animal names before they could eat them, which was adorable. After snack, the groups switched and the lesson was repeated a second time.
Then, with 40 minutes left, we split the 20 kids into two or three stations, depending on the day and activities planned. For example, some would go in the hall and play a game, some work on a craft, some go in the courtyard and sing a song, etc. We had about 10 high school camp counselors there each day, so it was easy to assign a few counselors per station. It also kept the chaos to a minimum!!
7. The Send-off – After a whirlwind of a day, with Caitlin, me, and French teacher Jennifer Reschly keeping an eye on the proceedings and watching the clock to tell groups when to switch, it was all over! Since we were in the cafeteria, we used some empty tables to put masking tape with the kids’ names and that served as their “spot” for their French craft, Spanish craft, and……. The take-home sheet for parents! This sheet had the list of vocabulary the kids learned that day, as well as a summary of the activities they did. The parents truly loved this part!
|How cute are these counselors and their campers??|
8. Basking in the Praise – And that’s it! That is how we planned and ran the camp! The best part was definitely after it was over, we received many emails from parents thanking us for sponsoring the camp and telling us how much their kids enjoyed it. We even got a hand-written thank-you note! These emails were great to forward to our principal to say, “Thank you for allowing us to sponsor this camp!” and to show how much positive press we generated for the school and our program. Banking good will, y’all!
Stephanie Schenck, 2016-17 AATSPSC president, is Spanish teacher at Clover High School, SC and PhD student in Literacy, Language, and Culture at Clemson University. She is also an NBCT and reluctant technology embracer as well as an occasional #LangChat participant --when not drowning in grad work.
Connect with @SraStephanie on Twitter and TeachersPayTeachers for more help setting up your own summer language camp!
Stay tuned for more great ideas from Appalachian Summer Institute alums
in the Summer Institute Series!