Teacher Tuesday: Pack your bags camp warmer

It is part and parcel of the TEFL experience to take part in a school camp.   Sometimes over a weekend, usually involving some sort of overnight aspect and almost always never actually involving any actual camping, the school camp is a great opportunity to get to know your students outside of the classroom and have some fun.

The school camp will often involve bringing together different groups of students who wouldn’t normally study or socialise together.  We’ve all been in those situations where we are thrust into unnatural groups and forced to take part in activities and the beginning stages of shyness and awkwardness are magnified when those being thrown together are Thai teenagers.

Cue a not-too-challenging, on topic ice breaker!

I made this activity to open a school camp for Matthayom 1 students who I knew already had the basic vocabulary knowledge needed to complete the activity.

Students are required to match pictures and words of a range of items and then sort the items into ‘pack’ and ‘not pack’ .  The activity can be introduced by saying that we are all getting ready to go on a school camp but firstly we need to pack our bags.

Students can work in small groups or against the clock, with the teacher reviewing the answers at the end and awarding a winner.


Click here to download the picture and word cards.  Simply print and laminate if you can – now you have your very own go-to camp warm up activity!

It’s just something nice and simple to get students talking and thinking.  You could also use this activity in the classroom if you were studying topics such as going on vacationclothing or as a general activity for more advanced students.

This is part of a new weekly feature – Teacher Tuesday – make sure you come back next week for another lesson idea.  If you have an idea to share as part of Teacher Tuesday feel free to get in touch 


Two very different sides of one coin

I recently went on a school camp like no other I have been on.

We took two classes of privileged students from an international school to another school in the middle of the jungle that couldn’t be any more different.

Yaowawit School was established to offer support, education and ultimately, a home, to children whose chances had been wiped out by the 2004 tsunami.  A charitable boarding school, Yaowawit is dependant on public donations and funding to keep its doors open, now offering over 110 places to children affected by all manner of things.

Having moved on from the post-tsunami support, most of the children living at Yaowawit have families who are unable to care for them properly be it due to financial difficulties, rural isolation, alcohol and drugs or crime.  Every child has his or her own story and each one tugs at a different heart string.  But these children don’t want your pity.  In fact, they don’t want for much at all.  It was interesting to see the children we had taken on camp make observations about the differences between themselves and the Yaowawit children; many of them didn’t understand why things were different but the difference itself was hard to ignore.

When our children were complaining about having to do morning exercise, or having to help out on the organic farm that serves as another source of income for the school, the Yaowawit children always had a smile on their face and never a bad word to say.

We were there for the end of term party of which the main event, and source of much excitement, was the grand raffle.  Typical prizes such as teddy bears and small toys were overshadowed by more modest prizes such as a new, soft towel and a toiletry set.  Those were what the children were most eager to have their name picked out for.  One of our children had the nerve (or I suppose, the naivity) to ask why the names of students from our school weren’t in the raffle draw – I just asked him to look around and think about it for a while.

Most of the students that we took on the camp live very privileged lives.  They have all the gadgets and gizmos they want, they live in beautiful homes and are lucky enough to come from a family that can afford to pay 250,000+ THB a year to go to school.  To put that in perspective, one year’s tuition at the international school I work at would pay for twelve and a half years at Yaowawit school, including boarding and food – that’s an entire school life for a child.  Insanity.

After the camp was over and the students had Sunday to reflect on things, we had a really positive discussion on Monday morning about the differences between the lives of the Yaowawit children and themselves.  Hopefully the children can begin to see that there are people living outside of their bubble who don’t have the same opportunities in life, and that they should appreciate how truly lucky they are.

I didn’t get any pictures of my own at Yaowawit as I wasn’t sure of the confidentiality around the boarding children, but feel free to head to their website where you can find out more information including how to sponsor a child or volunteer yourself.

Oh, and here is one of their adorable children, Su.

Passport to English Camp 2014

Wow am I tired!

I have just been away on a two day English camp with seventy Matthayom 1 students…

I put together this video for the kids and thought I should share it on here with you guys too. On our camp, themed ‘Passport to English’, we spent two days travelling around different English speaking countries and taking part in activities including Aboriginal dot painting and a tour of London landmarks. Of course, being a veteran Girl Guider I threw in some camp songs for good measure too.

I plan on writing a full post on the camp at some point this week, so any of you out there who are about to embark on your TEFL adventures can get some idea of what to expect, but for now enjoy this video while I find someone who can intravenously fill me with my Monday morning coffee.