Practice literacy skills all over town!
At the end of the school year, it can sometimes be tough to keep your students in their seats. They gaze out the window, as if the mere act of looking hard enough will make summer materialize faster. So why fight the call of the outdoors? Send your students on a scavenger hunt around your town or city! They’ll practice their language arts skills all over town, and see for themselves that you really can “use this in real life.”
With younger students, the whole class can walk around and do a few activities together. For older kids, the scavenger hunt makes a great homework assignment–ask students to pick 1 or 2 activities! School already out? Save it for September–this is a great way to start off the year.
The Scavenger Hunt!
1. Grammar Challenge: Find three signs with incorrect spelling or grammar. Photograph yourself with them. Explain how you would correct those signs. Also explain the impacts and confusions that this incorrect signage could cause in the world.
2. Analyze Advertisement: Find three interesting advertisements on a billboard or bus. Photograph yourself with them. Analyze all of the ways in which it is trying to convince you to do/buy what it is advertising. After you do that, explain whether or not you are convinced.
3. Educational Eavesdropping: Listen to at least 3 conversations on the bus. Transcribe (copy down) the conversations to the best of your ability. Describe what you learned about the people and their personalities/lives, and how you learned it. Do you think you know a lot about them?
4. Quiet Reflection: Sit in a park or at the beach for at least half an hour. Write continuously while you are there about what you see or about your thoughts.
5. People in Your Neighborhood: Interview 3 people who live in your neighborhood or neighborhoods you visit often) who you don’t know already know (for example, people who live in your neighborhood or own businesses in your neighborhood). Write 5 questions beforehand, and get their answers. When done, transcribe (copy down) your interviews.
6. Street Art Analysis: Find two pieces of street art that you like. Photograph yourself with them. Describe in detail what it looks like and what symbols you see. Come up with a theory about why the street art is in this neighborhood. What is it trying to accomplish? Explain why it appeals to you. Explain whether or not you think street art should be legal.
7. Illiterate Day: Pretend that you can’t read. Describe a full day in your life in your town (write down everything that happened at each hour of the day, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep), and reflect on all the things that might be challenging or impossible if you couldn’t read.
8. Tour Guide: Write a guide to your neighborhood for tourists. Describe places of interest, places to eat, places to stay, things to do, what spots to avoid, transportation, etc.
9. Business Interview: Interview someone who owns a store in your town. Ask them how their knowledge or lack of knowledge of English affects their ability to run a successful business. Spend some time observing the way the business runs, and connect your interview to what actually happens.
10. English Assistance: If you know someone in the city who speaks English poorly (or not at all), help him/her with a task that requires English skills. Interview him/her about how they feel about their English ability has affected his/her life here. Explain what this task was, why English was important to do it, and how your assistance helped this person.
11. Town History: Go to a historical part of town. Learn about its history. Describe why you like it. You must either interview people, do research online, or do research in the library. Write a short report about the history of this place.
12. Library Literacy: Go to a poetry reading, or another youth event held by the public library. Describe what the event was about, and what you learned. Explain why you went.
13. Cultural Plunge: Attend an event or visit a place that is dominated by a culture outside your own identity. Think outside your own religion and/or culture. Think about ethnic celebrations, religious ceremonies etc… Write and present a short report on the experience.
14. Stereotypes in Ads: Begin to look at how we address other cultures in the media. Look at store advertisements and billboards, and take photographs of 2 ads/billboards that represent a culture in a stereotypical or unfair way. Explain your personal reaction to the ad/billboard, what is stereotypical/unfair about it, and how you would change it.
15. Interview Immigrants: Interview at least two immigrants (people who came to this country from another country) who currently live in your area. Write both of their stories.
16. Art Analysis: Visit a museum or art gallery in your area. Choose three pieces of art that speak to you. Explain why you chose those pieces, and what you think they mean.
(Photo by florriebassingbourn)