Whether you homeschool or not, summer camps are great to keep kids on the learning path while on a typical school “break”. These days there are so many options, but the ones I like best are FREE! 🙂
A friend emailed me some info which gave us the opportunity to apply for a FREE 3-Week Chinese Immersion STEAM Camp (thanks friend). They had such a blast, we decided to give you the 411 on our experience! And did I mention it was FREE? Ok cool, just wanted to be sure you didn’t miss that. 🙂
This 3 Week Chinese Immersion Camp was supported by STARTALK. (Get it? “Start Talk”…as in start talking).
“STARTALK launched in 2006 and is a project funded by the National Security Agency and administered by theNational Foreign Language Center (NFLC) at the University of Maryland. STARTALK’s mission is to increase the number of U.S. citizens learning, speaking, and teaching critical-need foreign languages, with programs for students (K-12) and teachers.”
Through these efforts, it is believed that the U.S. will be better equipped not only to improve its international relations, but also to solidify its national security and global economic competitiveness in the years ahead.” Excerpt from STARTALK website
The American Chinese Academy
With the support of the aforementioned STARTALK program, the American Chinese Academy facilitated this camp and this year’s theme was Earth Is Our Home. It provided current k-5 graders with a fun and exciting summer packed with Chinese language, culture and STEAM activities. The kids received technology-enhanced language instruction organized on different topics about the Earth in a fun environment.
This camp was offered locally in Prince Georges County, MD. However, a friend of mine who was unable to get into this camp, found a similar camp in her county. I would do a search for camps like this in your area to see what you might find. (I found this one for high schoolers as well)
There were 2 camp locations where we could apply to attend:
- Paint Branch Elementary – Theme: “From Seeds to Table”
- University Park Elementary – Theme: “Forest, Ocean, Land, Earth”
The dates for 2017 were June 13 to June 30, from 9:00am to 3:30pm. (3 Weeks)
- Lunch and snack provided
- Kids can bring his/her own water bottle each day for refill
- Free T-shirt
- Field trip (this year they visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History)
- Opportunity for an extension program in the Fall
- Performance on last day of camp (friends and family invited)
The kids learned how to write Mandarin, they made STEAM inspired crafts, learned about global responsibility and enjoyed music enrichment. (See below for links to pictures and video.)
- Great teachers and administrators
- Enriching curriculum (multisensory)
- Attentive volunteers
- Involved parents (many of the kids were students at the participating school)
- Lunch and snacks provided (which made it much easier for me to plan for those 3 weeks I’d be shuttling them back and forth to camp)
- The distance of the camp from our home was a bit challenging the first few days but I managed to make it work by finding local activities to do with my youngest son who was not enrolled in the camp
- As a homeschooler (with young students), we can get school done in maybe half the time it takes traditional school, simply because my “classroom” has less students, so we’re not used to a full 7-5:00 (including drive time) school day.
My kidsOne kid was super tired from getting up earlier to drive the hour it took to get there and then not being able to get home until 5-ish.
- This is not exactly a con, it was just a “gift” that one of my sons got 2 days after camp concluded. A decent case of strep throat..LOL. So thankful it happened after camp finished though!
Extend the Learning
As with learning any new language, consistent exposure and repetition is key to retention and maintaining familiarity. You can extend the learning by using apps, language learning software or books.
- Mandarin/Chinese Apps
- Rosetta Stone (free with library card)
After attending the program, the kids were able to greet each other and exchange simple information in Chinese, develop interest to continue Chinese language learning, and understand the importance of protecting the Earth.
We thoroughly enjoyed the kids participating in this camp and now we try to use everyday Mandarin such as, hello (ni-hao), thank you (shi shi ni), you’re welcome (bu ke qi (sounds like: “bukachi”). Overall, they had an enriching time and I was actually pleasantly surprised that they genuinely enjoyed learning Chinese.
We will extend the learning using some of the resources above and we look forward to participating in another STARTALK Chinese Immersion Camp.
**This is my family’s feedback based on our shared experience. We were not requested to nor compensated for sharing**