Cooking Up Tasty American Recipes for ESL Summer Activities
Summer: Icy Cold Lemonade, Picnics, Cookouts, and Fireworks!
Depicted around the world as a time for Americans to relax and take vacations, summer provides a bounty of seasonal food-related activities for ESL students to learn about American culture, in addition to creating opportunities for sharing their culture related summer vacation and food-related activities.
Whether ESL students spend their summers in major American cities, where summer activities abound in theaters, museums, outdoor concerts, professional sports events etc., or in smaller towns and neighborhoods, where Americans gather for picnics, trips to the beach, countryside, and America’s beautiful parks, ESL students have an array of enjoyable American summertime activities to explore.
“Boys of Summer” Food Fare
Considered the great American summer pastime, baseball and America’s “Boys of Summer” – the nickname for American Baseball players—are great subjects of American culture for creating tasty food-themed ESL activities.
In addition to teaching ESL students baseball-themed vocabulary lists and baseball culture-based lesson plans, students can easily enjoy sampling these classroom friendly baseball-themed treats: peanuts, hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, and fries. There's also a simple recipe for a baseball diamond cake from Kraft Foods listed in the References, which is ideal for serving to the entire class.
The Great American Barbeque
Every region, state, and city in America offers up its own unique style of barbeque. This makes the topic of barbeque—considered to be America’s only original cuisine—a great source for ESL students to explore several different regions and cultures in America. The various styles of barbeque in America feature a variety of different meats, spices, and seasoning woods.
Organize a 4th of July Picnic
Independence Day, commonly called the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in America that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. When it was approved on July 4, 1776, the Revolutionary War in which Americans sought freedom from the Kingdom of Great Britain was already underway. In addition to offering ESL students a wonderful opportunity to participate in activities and lesson plans based on the topics of history, government, and patriotic celebrations in the United States, planning a 4th of July picnic provides a means for students to sample several traditional American summertime foods, such as the recipe for All American Potato Salad from the Recipezaar.com (see References).
Planning an ESL Summer Picnic Activity
Whether students experience a real or virtual classroom picnic activity, a number of picnic-themed activities can be planned for successful food-related language learning lesson plans.
Have students (alone or in groups) discuss or write about how they would plan and organize a picnic. For example, what food, appetizers, and drinks should be included in the picnic? Where should the picnic be held—outdoor picnic areas, a cafeteria, classroom, snack bars, and a restaurant are all possibilities.
Students can prepare several easy picnic foods, like tuna fish salad and green or fruit salads for an indoor picnic, thereby helping students to learn American cooking vocabulary. They will also be learning to work as a group, assemble materials, measure and prepare for a single classroom activity that crosses a number of curriculum lesson plans.
Having students design and write invitations or posters for a class picnic is a fun way to incorporate additional language and cultural learning opportunities into a picnic theme lesson plan.
Students can learn about planning nutritious meals by discussing healthy foods to take on a picnic.
If the picnic is to be held outdoors, students can discuss how to design a green, eco-friendly picnic.
In addition, for some great ideas for planning outdoor games that can be played at the class picnic, visit healthy-picnics.com to view a great collection of ideas for outdoor picnic activities and games that are suitable for a wide variety of student ages and learning levels form toddlers to adults.
Visiting a Local Farmers Market
And nothing says summer better than homegrown tomatoes, as illustrated by this quote from American singer and songwriter, John Denver (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997)
"Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes|What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes|Only two things that money can't buy|That's true love and home grown tomatoes."
- John Denver, Home Grown Tomatoes.
A visit to a local farmer’s market can result in a tasty basket full of summer learning fun for ESL students of all ages. In addition to learning money counting it can open up classroom discussion surrounding the topic of how local farmers markets help both consumers and farmers in several regions of the United States
What Else Is in This Series?
Planning and cooking American recipes together, as an ESL classroom activity, can be a great way to enjoy good food while learning English! Part of a series of four seasonal articles with food and activities for ESL students.