by Susan Verner
August is here, and many students are heading back to school after a fun filled summer.
Use the following August themed activities to get your ESL students back in the groove of language learning.
Try These Activities to Get Students Back to School
The old saying is necessity is the mother of invention. Do your students agree? August is National Inventors Month, and it’s a good time to get students thinking about the needs they see around them. Tell your class that they will be making their own inventions, and that any supplies they can contribute to an invention box would be greatly appreciated. Give your students some time to look for items at home which are bound for the trash can and then collect them in your classroom. You collection might include old phone cords, wires, plastic cases, batteries, keys, gears… Almost anything might be useful for someone’s invention. Once your invention box is full to overflowing, invite your students to design their own inventions. They can use the items in the box and draw blueprints for an item they think the world needs. Make sure the diagram’s parts are labeled with the correct vocabulary words. Have each person come to the front of the class and explain what his or her invention is and why they created it. Allow your students to ask questions of the inventor at the end of the presentation.
The Eyes Have It
How important is sight to your students? Do they get regular eye exams? August is National Eye Exam month, and it’s a good time to talk about keeping your eyes healthy. Complete a K/W/L chart with your class about good eye health. As a class, list everything you know about keeping your eyes healthy in the first column. Then, in the second column, list things your students want to know about keeping their eyes healthy. Take students to the library or computer lab to do some research on keeping eyes in good health. Afterwards, have each student complete the third column of the chart with information they learned about keeping their eyes healthy.
A Whole New World
What would life be like without your eyesight? Have your students imagine how their lives would be different if they could not see. Then have each person write a paragraph using the conditional structure which describes what they think life would be like if they were blind. Display the paragraphs on a blank bulletin board in your room. If you know someone who is blind, invite them to your classroom to talk about the challenges they face as a non-seeing person.
Back to School
For many students, August means it’s time to go back to school. Now that your students have been in school for a while (for some a short while, for others a long while) they should have some useful advice for students just starting their English studies. Using the imperative structure, have each person in your class write five to ten pieces of advice for someone just starting their English studies. Encourage students to use their own experience as a new language learner for ideas.
Fill Up Your Back Pack
Back to school means gathering school supplies. What items in the classroom could your students never survive without? In groups of three to four, have students talk about the items they must have to secure back to school success. Have groups share their ideas with the class once they have finished their discussions. This is a good time to review (or teach) classroom related vocabulary. If you are teaching beginning students, think about labeling different items in your classroom (use sticky notes) as you discuss.
With August comes the beginning of many fall sports including football. Do your students know the rules for the popular American game? In most places around the world “football” is a completely different sport (soccer). Either explain the rules of American football to your students or have them read up on the basic rules of the sport using the library or online resources. Then ask each person to write a comparison and contrast paper on football and soccer. For the conclusion of their paper, have each person give his opinion as to which sport is better and why.
Chocolate Chips Ahoy
August 3 is National Chocolate Chip Day, and you can celebrate with your class by bringing in a package of the classic chocolate chip cookies to share. Afterwards, have pairs of students come up with their own recipe using chocolate chips. Give them a typical recipe for chocolate chip cookies as a model, and have them write their own recipe, complete with a title, a list of ingredients, and a numbered list of directions. If you are really daring, give students a chance to create their masterpieces in class and let their classmates sample it.
Cool Summer Fruit
August 3 is also National Watermelon Day. Celebrate the day by sharing slices of the fruit with your class by bringing in a sliced watermelon to share. Students can invent ways to use the fruit in their own recipes. Give them a of ways the fruit can be used, for example in salads, drinks, smoothies and even the skins. You can have a class discussion on the health benefits of eating fresh fruit, They can also research its nutritional values and find some fun facts.
A Friend Indeed
The first Sunday in August is Friendship Day, and we all have friends that we love and appreciate. Put your students in groups of around three to talk about what makes a great friend. What are the essential qualities? What are good qualities but those a friend doesn’t necessarily have? What characteristics would prevent you from being friends with someone else? After the discussion, have each person write one or two paragraphs about the qualities that make a good friend.
Up, Up, and Away
National Aviation Day is August 19. Airplanes have transformed the way people today work, play, and study. As a class, brainstorm all the different modes of transportation you can think of. This is a great time to introduce new vocabulary, and you might want to let your students use bilingual dictionaries for words like submarine, tricycle, trolley, unicycle, and Jet Ski which should all be on your list. Then, have each person write detailed directions on how to get from your classroom to their home and the modes of transportation you would have to use to get there. If you are teaching overseas, the directions may not be that complicated. But if your students are studying overseas, they will have to give directions from your classroom to the airport to their home country to their homes. If possible, post a map in your classroom where students can draw their routes, and then post their written directions around the map.
August 20 is World Honey Bee Day. Discuss the importance of bees in the world and the role they play in nature. Students can research the bees and the part they play in pollinating food crops. Have them discuss bees and come up with ways to prevent the extinction of the bee population in the world today. They could also discuss honey and its possible health benefits. Books like “The Honeybee Man Picture Book” are helpful. Picture books are always fun for young students. We found these two literary treasures: “The Honeybee Picture Book” has beautiful illustrations and highlights the work of the amazing honeybee, and “Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book”, shows how the bee contributes to the environment.
Happy Birthday, Mother Theresa
Mother Theresa was born on August 27, 1910, and she devoted her life to helping the poorest of the poor. Have your students think of ways they can, should, and might help other people. Then ask each person to write ten of their ideas using a modal verb in each sentence. You might want to review modal verbs with your class before they write their sentences.
What are your favorite August themed ESL activities?
P.S. If you enjoyed this article, please help spread it by clicking one of those sharing buttons below. And if you are interested in more, you should follow our Facebook page where we share more about creative, non-boring ways to teach English.
Get the Entire BusyTeacher Library:
Dramatically Improve the Way You Teach
Save hours of lesson preparation time with the Entire BusyTeacher Library. Includes the best of BusyTeacher: all 80 of our PDF e-books. That’s 4,036 pages filled with thousands of practical activities and tips that you can start using today. 30-day money back guarantee.