It’s that time of year again when the flowers begin to bloom, snow begins to melt and writers tend to start using all sorts of done-to-death clichés.
It’s also a time of year when the weather begins to become more clement, creating a unique opportunity to throw away the whiteboard markers and head outside for some super-creative lesson plans that both teacher and student will thoroughly enjoy. Heading outside isn’t only fun, but it also gives the chance to teach a highly-focused lesson while offering students the chance to learn vocabulary through a wide range of realia - ESL jargon for real life things. Spring allows teachers with a real chance to liven up their lessons and to experience the great world around us.
Here’s some cool ideas for your class that you can use with your classes outdoors.
Spring Ideas For Outdoors English Lessons
Go on a Lovely Picnic
A picnic is a fantastic idea for any kids class as it gives them the chance to escape the classroom and get some fresh air. As they run around, chase each other and have a good time, you can play some activities and games with them to help expand their vocabulary. ‘I spy’ is a great game for younger kids outside, allowing them to use a wider range of vocabulary in the classroom. A picnic allows you to take a walk with your students and practice outdoors vocabulary that they would usually learn in a textbook. A picnic in a park allows you and your students to take a leisurely stroll around while expanding on the vocabulary such as various flowers, hobbies, animals and anything else that can be found in a park.
Give Your Students a Cultural Treat and Take Them to a Restaurant
With the permission of parents and your school, take your students to a restaurant that specialises in western cuisine. This is great as it helps them with the vocabulary that is related to western food. Students should always be encouraged to use and order in English. Going to a restaurant, practicing the ordering phrases and vocab is a fun way for students to finish a unit on food and dining, as it gives the students a chance to practice in a real-life situation. It also gives them the chance to gorge on some high cholesterol, fatty French fries, burgers and hotdogs.
Introduce Your Students to a Summer Sport
The perfect way to reward your students for all the hard work and effort put in during the bitterly cold winter is to take them outside and introduce them to a summer sport that is played in your home country. Cricket and baseball are two sports that are often played in the west during the warmer months that work a treat for teenage students. While competing with each other, they will learn vocabulary relating with sport, as well as some culture from your country.
Plan an Excursion to the Zoo
Brilliant for younger learners, a field trip to the zoo makes for the ultimate day out. Students could be given a task such as find out about a certain animal and describe it using a range of adjectives. For lower level learners, an activity eliciting whether an animal ‘can’ or ‘can’t’ do something is also beneficial. A trip to the zoo would usually be a whole day out, and the inclusion of a picnic for lunch wouldn’t go astray.
Do an Outdoor Science Activity
If you have the outdoor space available to you, one little gem of an activity teach your students to make bottle rockets. An activity like this works on so many levels, as it involves a fair amount of planning and construction, which also involves using a large amount of vocabulary. The fun part is taking the students outside and holding a competition to see which flies the highest.
These days, many language centres are conveniently placed in locations where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic. In recent years, many have begun to crop up in shopping malls everywhere. While the crowds can sometimes cause the teacher a major headache having to go there every day, it leaves the option open for an excursion to the numerous shops around, casually chatting with the students and getting them to describe the various shops and items that they sell in English. With older students, a novel way to finish off this short excursion is to stop by a coffee shop, sit down over a cappuccino and build the all-important rapport with your students.
Relax, Listen and Describe
Ideal for students of all ages, this simple activity is ideal if you want to get the students outside without the luxury of time. Once outside, the teacher must instruct the students to close their eyes for a minute-or-so, and describe all of the sounds that they can hear. This activity works for a variety of different topics, from animals, to describing a city, and is a great warmer activity at the start of a unit.
By getting outside of the classroom, you don’t just only provide students with a fun activity, but you give them a realistic experience that provides them with an insight into culture and the real world – something that can’t be learnt from a textbook.