In the days before air conditioning and electronics, outdoor family games were a staple of summer evenings. Many times these activities involved both the adults and children, but more often the kids played while the grownups chat and relax. Often the whole neighborhood was involved. Depending on where you lived, you could hear happy voices calling out in Spanish, English, French, and many other languages as well.
Fireflies twinkled in the gathering dark, cool breezes offered relief from the heat of the day, and everyone was ready to unwind and enjoy good company, and good fun, in the late summer evenings. Music rang out, with one adult playing guitar while others sang favorite songs from their cultures.
You can readily update this time-honored tradition, bring in some nostalgia, and further your child's bilingual education. Following are some family favorites, along with suggestions on ways to help your kids learn a second language.
Badminton - Look for a set at your local sports shop or discount store to bring back Badminton for a fun family outdoor activity. Try keeping score in the second language.
Volleyball - Use your Badminton net for dual purpose and enjoy some fun while teaching the children new skills. Call out vocabulary words and instructions in a second language as the family plays Volleyball together. If you have little ones, use a balloon and try not to let it hit the ground by gently tapping it up and counting to practice your numbers.
Horseshoes - All you need is a stake in the ground and some used horseshoes, or you can buy a set. What is the word for horse in the second language? Practice animal and nature vocabulary in the second language while playing the fun yard game.
Frisbee - Toss around a frisbee and let the family dog join in. Each time someone catches the frisbee they must say a word or phrase from a chosen them in the second language. For younger children, you can say the word in the second language and have your child repeat after you on every throw.
Sidewalk Chalk - There are so many possibilities with sidewalk chalk. Your kiddos will love drawing on the driveway! Get creative and add in language learning activities by playing 'pictionary' outdoors with chalk so your little ones can guess the drawing in the second language. Another fun activity would be to draw the map of the language's country of origin or have the kids draw and color in the country's flag.
Campfire - Make a fire in a fire pit or other safe area and sing camp songs or tell stories while roasting marshmallows. Bring out the guitar or maracas for even more fun. What songs can you introduce in a second language? Check our Little Pim Spanish Bop and French Bop on our website. You can download your copy instantly to make summer travel a lot more fun!
Now, look back to when you were a child and recreate some of your best summer fun with your kids. How can you involve your children in the culture, memories, and the language of your childhood or the language and culture your kids and family are learning? Time together is how we make lasting memories that children will cherish.
Current brain research and best educational practices show that active, hands-on learning and parental involvement is an unbeatable combination to help further a child's ability to grasp and retain knowledge. Comment below for more information on Little Pim's award-winning language learning program for kids ages 0-6.
To make summer travel a lot easier and fun for the little ones, check out our post on Summer Travel Tips with Kids.