*While this blog post focuses on preparing your English Learner (ELs) for summer break, the suggestions would be applicable for all students.
It’s almost summer! Depending on where you live and your school district, many schools across the U.S. are starting to close out the academic year. (Can we get an Amen?)
For our ELs, summer break—while a welcome event, can also bring uncertainty and limited English interaction. Keep reading for ideas (inexpensive and a few at no expense) on preparing a summer learning packet for your ELs:
- Reading Material: Drop in some level-appropriate books, academic magazines (think Time for Kids or Scholastic News), or pages you have printed from online resources. At this time of year, many teachers are purging their resources. Go by the free pile and collect books that can go home with your student. Ask your friends if they have any extra copies of books that you could have. One of my favorite places to source books to giveaway is the $1 section at Scholastic, a dollar store, or a discount store. Often local libraries purge their collections and give away books or sell them for .25. Funding can certainly be an issue, so don’t hesitate to ask for financial support.
- Add School Supplies to the student’s packet: Colored pencils, pencils, and erasers. Crayons and markers are nice, but think about summer if your students will be leaving crayons in a car (melting crayons, anyone?) If you have extra and need to clean them out anyway, then send them. Many of my EL students do not have materials to use at home. Making sure they have these supplies for the summer is another way to support their learning.
- Academic Review Activities: I have used different things over the years.
- Summer Skills Books: Sometimes, I purchased (with school funding) a comprehensive skills book from a discount store and sent the entire book home. Pros—It’s already completed for you, has the answers in the back, and is usually colorful. Cons—They can be expensive, I’m not sure students really use them, and it’s not very interactive.
- Packets from Online Resources: These can be a great option. Pros—quick and easy to source, answers are included, colorful, cheaper option as one license allows you to print unlimited packets. Cons—they are still worksheets and printing them can use lots of ink and paper.
- Materials for Summer Packets: paperclips, dice, flash cards. Many of these items can be found cheaply and in bulk (discount stores, dollar bins, freebie piles at schools). Find online templates to make your own flashcards for students or buy from a discount store.
- Resource List: If you can, include a short list of summer English classes, local events hosted by the parks and recreation department, and any other community activities. Many local communities have calendars of sports, community, and cultural events. Print one out to include in their packet if a brochure isn’t available.
- Fun Items: Bubbles, sidewalk chalk, stickers, scavenger hunt games, board games or card games. If your budget and packaging allows, consider including fun items for the student to use. I encourage my students to write sight words in sidewalk chalk or count while blowing bubbles. Learning should be fun, and summer is no exception to that.
- Pack It Up! I have sent summer packs home in different ways. You could use manila envelopes (decorate them with fun stickers for elementary students), plastic folders or sleeves, small one dollar plastic bags (character/design bags), string backpacks, or large Ziploc bags. Something age appropriate is important if you are making packets for secondary students (probably a manila envelope that is discreet or a string backpack).
- Unlimited Funding? Besides being the envy of everyone, check out summer curriculum options that put it all together for you! One year, our district had funds to purchase summer backpacks already made by Teacher Created Materials. Students were so excited to take home their backpacks and it made sending summer materials SO easy.
Have other ideas? Did I leave something off?
I would love to hear what you do in your program! Drop me a line at [email protected]
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Ideas to include: A few books, academic magazines (Time for Kids, Scholastic, etc.); summer packets from a teacher website (see teacherspayteachers.com); and supplies to use at home
For breakfast this morning I enjoyed fresh blackberries in Greek yogurt!