Summer is a magical time for fun in the sun, spending time with family and of course—learning Spanish! Though your child’s language memory has the ability to retain most of their Spanish skills throughout the summer, expand on that knowledge by keeping their skills sharp between semesters. These games will keep your kids happy while enhancing their natural language abilities.
5 Ideas to Teach Your Kids Spanish During the Summer
1. FAMILY VACATION ACTIVITIES
Keep your kids motivated to learn a foreign language—even while on vacation. No matter where your family decides to travel, you can help your kids learn new vocabulary and new skills. Of course, the ideal vacation for your little Spanish speakers would include visiting a country like Spain or Mexico; however, visiting an area of the country like Miami, New York or Puerto Rico would also help keep your kids motivated. Calle Ocho in Miami’s Little Havana district will create an opportunity for your kids to speak Spanish.
If you can’t get away to a Spanish-speaking area of the country, there are still plenty of opportunities to help your little ones with their vocab and conjugation. The airport is full of opportunities to learn new words and to strengthen your bonds with old ones. Point out the parts of the plane, like the engines, wings, and rudder. Ask your kids what everyone is doing. The woman is running. Why is she running? She wants to catch her flight. The man is eating. Why is he eating? He is hungry.
The car is also a great place to familiarize your kids with words. Play the “I Spy” or “Veo, veo” game in Spanish. “I spy with my little eye, something red.” or “Veo, veo. ¿Qué ves? Una cosa ¿Qué cosa? Maravillosa ¿De qué color? Rojo.” (A red car.) Peek through your vehicle’s sun roof to guess what shapes or objects are hiding in the clouds. (That cloud looks like a heart. That one looks like an apple.)
2. MEALTIME ACTIVITIES
Even if your family isn’t planning on taking a trip this summer, you can still strengthen your kids’ relationship with a foreign language. Choose one meal out of the day to speak only in Spanish. If you don’t want to choose a long meal like dinner, opt for breakfast instead. Make a rule that everyone can say or ask for whatever they want—truth or fiction—as long as they speak in Spanish. Everyone needs to respond with truth, though. If your child means to ask for the ketchup, but they accidentally ask for honey instead, go grab the honey from the cupboard. The results are usually both enlightening and fun.
3. GAMES FOR THE BACKYARD PICNIC OR BARBECUE
Most families attend at least one backyard picnic or a barbecue in the summertime. Give your kids a Spanish scavenger hunt for the day. Tell them to “collect” 10 phrases from the day. Hand out lists of one food item, activity, pool word, a word from nature, drink, time of day and other categories of things that could be found at a cookout. On the car ride home, ask your kids to tell you (in Spanish) what they found. They might explain that Tommy got in trouble for pushing his sister, Jane ate five hotdogs, Bobby fell asleep under the stars, everyone played Marco Polo in the pool and everyone had a great time.
4. SUMMER SLEEPAWAY CAMP GAMES
If your child is heading away for the summer, they can still keep their Spanish skills in check. Most camps require kids to send letters to their families while they are gone. Ask your children to send at least five sentences in Spanish. When you send their letters, answer their questions in Spanish and ask them at least five questions in Spanish too. When they arrive home from camp, play highs and lows in Spanish: what was the best moment of camp? What was the worst?
5. SUMMER JOB GAMES
Offer your children “rewards” for returning from their summer jobs with stories about the day—in Spanish. Offer them points toward a trip to the water park or points toward a pair of boots they might want to use their summer job money to pay for—just for learning Spanish! When they arrive home from a hard day’s work, ask them a series of questions in Spanish: How many hours did you work? How much money did you make? How many people did you meet? Then, ask them to tell you one story (in Spanish) from the day. It can be real or made up. If you guess whether the story was real or made up, your child gets an extra point.
Summer can be both a time of learning and a time for fun. Keep your kids’ language skills intact while enjoying a little quality time with the family. Asking your little ones to participate in a few simple games keeps them happy and engaged throughout their downtime.
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