How to avoid the Bilingual Summer Slump – 30 ideas for your Bilingual Summer Bucket List
Summer holidays have already started for some, but are about to kick off for most of the northern hemisphere. With it comes the chance for children to have even more exposure than usual to their home language. We have compiled 30 ideas for your Bilingual Summer Bucket List – a whole month worth of bilingual activities.
Many bilingual families love the summer holidays for this very reason! It’s the time when you can focus on that not-so-strong language. For those of us living abroad, it usually means going back home to visit friends and family, so lots of quality language time! Summer 2020 will be different as travelling might not be possible, so we’ve pulled together a list of fun summer activities you can easily do while staying close to home. Let’s check out the 30 ideas for your Bilingual Summer Bucket List
Summer at Home? 30 Ideas for your Bilingual Summer Bucket List!
Have your kids join the planning, this way there’s something for everyone in the family. Not only will the summer fly by, but you’ll have some help planning all those activities! As busy moms and dads, we know that part can be just as time-consuming as the activity itself. 😅
Need some inspiration to get started? Here’s a FULL month of fun and engaging ideas to nurture the home language during a summer season close to home…30 ideas for your Bilingual Summer Bucket List!
30 Summer Fun Ideas for Bilingual Families
1. Read, read, and read some more!
At the top of nearly every list on how to maintain learning over the summer holidays, you’ll find one simple suggestion: READ! It’s no secret that children who are exposed to reading early and often have a greater vocabulary and higher academic success. Continue to read to your child daily, adding in books in the target language whenever possible. Visit your local library, if possible, for group story-times and to regularly check out new books or audiobooks. You will be surprised to find that many libraries carry kids’ books in a variety of languages. Read a chapter book aloud. If your kids can already read, you can share the task. You will see how kids have a much longer attention span than you thought, especially if they know they get to spend some quality time with you. Best of all no matter what language your kids read in it helps to develop the reading skills for the other languages as well.
If you want to entice your kids to read in that not so strong language, create a personalized book in his or her two languages. Kids prefer reading when they can relate to the story, especially younger children. This is why we started TimTimTom, we create books kids can really relate to and therefore enjoy reading in their two languages, even in the not so strong language.
2. Plan activities with another family that has the same target language.
Depending on where you are in the world, this can be easier said than done. However, if you have friends that have kids in a similar age (or better a tiny bit older) that speak the same home language, nothing beats the help of other youngsters your kids look up to. If you don’t have friends with the same language nearby schedule “target language” video calls with family members abroad.
3. Chalk Walk Language Madness.
Use your driveway, the sidewalk, or an area outdoors as a canvas. There is no limit to this one, as you can see in this great compilation by What Moms Love. All of these can be done in one or two languages and therefore are great vocabulary builder aids. Let your child lay down on the ground, paint his/her shape and then find all the body parts, and write them out (heart, legs, head, neck, knees, etc). Or make a neighborhood sidewalk challenge (hop like a bunny, do the shimmy, follow the line, etc). And if you want to make your own chalk all you need is cornstarch, distilled vinegar, and food coloring.
4. Hit those Bilingual Tunes!
Music is a fantastic way to practice language skills. Whether you’re in the car, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, or brushing your teeth, turn on some music in the target language. Children pick up on song lyrics very quickly, especially if the song is one they already know well. My three-year-old daughter goes crazy for any form of “Let It Go.” Now that she’s listened to it about a million times in her first language, the second-language version is super fun and engaging for her. Bonus: she picks up on new vocabulary from the song very quickly!
5. Get cooking in two languages!
Following a simple recipe together can be an excellent way to get your child talking. Cooking together actually involves a lot of language usage: from reading the ingredients to following instructions to congratulating each other on the yummy end result, the kitchen is the place to be. Search Pinterest for simple, kid-friendly recipes to make together. Or even better prepare their favourite food together. Added bonus: a little math in the target language while measuring the ingredients.
Easy and Fun Ideas to include daily this summer
– 30 ideas for your Bilingual Summer Bucket List
6. Beautiful Fish creations out of simple rocks.
Are your kids huge stone collectors? If they are anything like my son, you probably have a huge stone box gathering dust underneath the bed, so put them to good use. You can practice vocabulary for colours, for textures, shapes, and forms, as well as arts and crafts related words. Turn the rocks into creative creatures with a little paint and decorations. Rock Fish by Hello Wonderful
7. Plant some seeds and see them grow.
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, the process of planting, learning about the growing process, and observing the growth can be so engaging for kids! It’s a great way to add simple chores for young children too, as they can easily water plants each morning. Plus you can add new target language vocabulary you usually do not use.
8. Build a fort in your living room
Pretend/imaginative play is a great way to build language skills and foster creativity. Your fort can be a pirate ship, a princess’s castle, a modern skyscraper… anything goes! Let the kids create a story and play roles and why not sleep in their fort.
9. Take a walk in nature and play “I Spy.”
The “I Spy” game is a fantastic way to get kids talking. Take turns leading the game. For example, I spy with my little eye…something orange! To get to the answer, your child has to use and understand lots of descriptive vocabulary, ask creative questions, and be observant of their environment. It’s a win all around! (Auf Deutsch: „Ich sehe etwas was Du nicht siehst” en español: ‟veo, veo una cosita de color XXX”).
10. Build an obstacle course – for kids and adults.
An excellent way to practice commands and movement words, an obstacle course is also a way to get those wiggles out! Indoor or outdoor, using props or items from nature, obstacle courses can come in all shapes and sizes. Drawing a chalk obstacle course can also be a fun project for the family. Your kids can be in charge of making it as difficult or easy as they’d like!
11. Organize a treasure hunt.
Use some target vocabulary to make a well-rounded activity based on a theme. Bonus: tie it to a book you’ve read lately! For example, if you read an ocean-themed book, use queries that include information from the book, the animals that appear in the book, or a new word that you would like your child to remember after hearing it in the book. You can also create a treasure hunt of household items and ask kids to label them in the target language as they’re found.
12. Play with paper planes.
From figuring out how to construct and design them to seeing who can fly their paper plan the farthest, this activity combines STEM and language skills in one. For competitive families, this can be extra fun — and intense! Five ways to fold paper airplanes.
13. Play games and complete puzzles in the target language.
Have a regular game or puzzle night with the family. Board games, card games, and other group games like charades will get kids talking every time. Depending on the age and personalities of your children, you could also add in a small prize for a little extrinsic motivation. For an impromptu game, 20 questions is always fun, with the added perk that it requires no preparation or materials. Stuck in line at the grocery store? Start a game of 20 questions!
14. Skip stones at a local pond or lake.
Who can make it the farthest? Who can make the rock skip most times? Does a larger or smaller rock work best? This is a great chance to practice comparative and superlative vocabulary — while having fun, of course!
15. Camp in the living room or backyard.
Don’t have a tent? A living room blanket works great too! Plan your favorite camping meal, grab some sleeping bags, and snuggle up with some flashlights and books for a fun night! One rule: Use your target language.
A FULL month of ideas – 30 ideas for your Bilingual Summer Bucket List
16. Try out a bilingual version of a favourite film.
All the major animated films are available in several languages. Watch your child’s favourite movie together in the target language. For young readers, it can be fun to include the captions as well, so they can read along as they watch.
17.Visit a foreign country… from your living room that is (unless it’s in your budget).
If you have a globe you can spin it and let the kids randomly pick a country… Or if you have an atlas have the kids open a random page and pick a country. Have neither – the internet has it all – you can go with this random country generator (just set it to 1). Once you’ve got your country do a quick search online – print a picture or two and have the kids glue their own pictures on that picture (like a photo from the trip). Bonus: Check if the randomly selected country has easy-to-make traditional recipes and prepare them together.
18. Give your child a day where he/she can decide on all the activities in his or her target language.
This is a dream come true for all kids! Everything goes. PJs all day? Cereal for dinner? A trip to the ice cream shop? Why not?! It’s summertime! And it is the greatest motivator to speak in his or her not so strong language.
19. Plan a wide variety of day trips or outings (depending on what is currently feasible where you are).
Each trip to a different place offers the chance to be exposed to a whole new set of vocabulary. Due to the current world health situation, it is probably best to plan visits to outdoor places. Plan visits to a forest, a pond, the beach, plan a hike. Exploring new places together builds important connections for children. During each trip make sure to gather sticks, stones, leaves, anything that you can later use for an art project. Talk about the insects that you see, the colors and shapes of the leaves, measure the temperature of the water, find animal traces, or maybe even paw marks.
20. Build an indoor ocean.
Kids can create ocean-themed decor, designate “no swim” areas (watch out for the jellyfish!), build a coral reef from blocks or other household items… the only limit here is their imagination! Allow them to go crazy and jump from sofa to sofa or cushion to cushion, never stepping on the floor, in order not to get their feet wet or stung by the jellyfish. And why not join the kids it will be double the fun.
21. Look for shapes in the clouds and makeup stories.
Find a nearby park, nature trail, or even your balcony, and gaze at the clouds! Who knows what they’ll see? A penguin and a lion, floating down a river? A steam engine rolling by? You’ll be amazed at the creativity! The crazier your cloud descriptions are, the crazier the kids’ will be.
22. Going on a bilingual road trip?
Turn car time into a language-rich environment by creating a visual “BINGO” type game. Each time your kids notice something as you drive, they tell you about it, then they get to mark a space on their BINGO card. Some ideas for game spaces: a horse, a barn, a river, the ocean, a purple car, a train, a police car, etc. Tailor it to match what you expect to see on your trip and prepare a visual card in advance or if you have the game Zingo, use one of their cards. Another favourite of ours is to listen to audiobooks in the target language while on a road trip. The only problem is that if you arrive at your destination before the book has finished, the kids will most likely not want to get out of the car.
Try to include a language activity every day this summer
– Here are 30 ideas for your Bilingual Summer Bucket List
23. Try out new foods together.
Make an effort to try out new recipes with ingredients your children have not had before. Go out to a restaurant and take time to look at the menu together, identifying both familiar and unfamiliar dishes. Carry on conversations about how the food tastes, what you like, and dislike. At the start of summer, you may even want to create a bucket list of new foods or restaurants you’d like to try out.
24. Make a time capsule and bury it.
Just make sure you make a good map of where you’ve buried it in case you want to find it years later. My childhood best friend and I did the time capsule thing and now more than 20 years later, I wish I knew where it was! Include a message in the different languages you speak at home.
25. Build a playhouse!
There are so many ways you can go about it – cardboard always being a fun and frugal choice! When our new washer was delivered, the kids insisted we keep the cardboard packaging. At first, it lived in the living room, until one rainy day, we turned it into a playhouse, colored it, cut out some windows, and even made curtains. Or for an outdoor playhouse option use small sticks, stones, and other found objects to create a tiny fairy house.
26. Start a bilingual photo diary!
Have your kids snap a photo of something each day, print the photo and place it in an album along with a few notes about that photo. Make sure to include some notes in the kids’ not so strong language. You’ll thank yourself years from now when you can all look back on those memories and smile!
27. Paint a wall.
Plan a mural or spend time searching for just the right color to use. You can talk about different shades, designs and shapes, and more. Unable to paint because your home is a rental? Find some inexpensive canvas or large sheets of paper, and create artwork to decorate your walls. Use the vocabulary for paint, colors, brushes…
28. Build a village.
Use legos, blocks, boxes, canned goods — anything you can find. My son used to love building hotels when he was little. He would “design” amazing lobbies with swimming pools and slides, free ice-cream areas (of course the free ice-cream could not be missed), and huge trampoline parkour. Kids dream up the most imaginative scenarios! Let your child explain to you in detail why he or she has built this specific construction. Ask questions in your child’s minority language and you’ll see how much thought has gone into creating this masterpiece.
29. Play outside in the rain.
Summertime is the best time to play in the rain! Jump in puddles, search for worms, make mud pies. Messy fun in the rain unleashes so much joy in children! And while they are having fun, your kids won’t even notice that they are using their not so strong language.
30. Clean-up a beach, forest, or park.
Contribute to your community and teach your children to take care of nature by planning a clean-up morning or afternoon. Going on a hike or visiting a local park? Take along some gloves and a trash bag or bucket, and you can leave the place more beautiful than when you arrived.
Ready to Tackle Those Summer Plans?
With a little forethought and creativity, you can nurture your home language environment in a fun, natural, and engaging way this summer. Have fun and cherish these moments together! Summer, here we come!
Bilingual stories that will spark your kid’s imagination and language ability.
TimTimTom Books entice kids to want to read in two languages. The child finds him- or herself as the hero of the story and therefore, is automatically drawn to the story.
You can customize the name and look of the child and choose any combination of two out of ten available languages.
TimTimTom – Bilingual Books your child will want to read