Following college graduation, I took the leap of faith to move abroad and spend a year teaching English with the TAPIF program. It was originally supposed to be a gap year, but I ended up teaching for two years as well as au pairing for a summer and landing a full-time job afterward. Even though I saw teaching as a temporary gig, I really enjoyed teaching at several elementary schools in Marseille, especially my second year. It was rewarding to see the children’s progress throughout the year, but saying goodbye to great teachers and students is never easy. On my last day with my TAPIF students, I wanted to do something special with a cultural focus. For my final week of TAPIF, I planned an ESL America-themed party. If you’re looking for ideas for your ESL or TAPIF classroom, look no further. Here’s how you, too, can have an American-themed lesson.
American Flag Activity
Whether you’re working with bigger kids or young ones, planning an American flag craft is a great way to introduce a cultural element and review colors, shapes and numbers. For the older students with more developed motor skills, you can cut out red stripes and a blue rectangle, as seen on Housing A Forest blog.
Or you can opt for a multi-classroom project by creating a large American flag out of student hand cut-outs. I asked all of my classrooms to have their students trace their hands on colored paper. Each class then came down to the common room where we taped up their hand cut-outs to create an American flag. It was a great way to integrate all of the classes of different ages and to create a small souvenir of their favorite English teaching assistant. (And humble, too!)
Statue of Liberty Craft
I loved teaching a mini lesson on the Statue of Liberty because it integrates American and French history so well. It was fairly simple to explain and meant we could make our own Lady Liberty crowns. Not only does it incorporate a mini history lesson, but it also involves a manual, arts-based activity. The Kitchen Table Classroom has a great free printable that you can print for students and let them color. Paging Supermom also has a free printable of Lady Liberty’s crown. Here are some quick fun facts in case you, too, need to brush up on your French-American relations history during the late 1800s.
American Trivia Questions
If you’re looking for a simple activity for your TAPIF America-themed party, look no further than trivia. It’s a fun, easy way to share some basic facts and requires little preparation. I created my own trivia questionnaire for the students, which you can download for free here. Or make your own trivia questionnaire for free with Canva. It’s a great way to learn about American geography and revisit themes already taught.
4th of July Scavenger Hunt
Countries all over the world have their own traditions for their independence days. As part of your TAPIF America-themed lesson, you can introduce your students to American traditions for July 4th. In reality, our July 4th celebrations aren’t all too different from those of France’s July 14th: time with family, grillades, fireworks. I found a great printable from Crafts on Sea of 4th of July objects.
Although you probably can’t roll a barbecue grill or fireworks into the school, you could print, laminate and hide the different objects around the classroom. Students could have their own scavenger hunt to find these flash cards and learn the words. Or you could turn these vocab words and images into a bingo card with this online bingo generator.
Another idea for a TAPIF American-themed lesson, especially for an end-of-the-year party, could be filling several jars with American candy. Think Skittles, M&Ms, Sour Patch Kids, Jolly Ranchers, etc. And then you can ask students to guess how many are in the jar. It’s a great (and tasty) way to help the students practice their numbers. The student whose guess is the closest can take home the jar.
Perhaps you can’t decide which of these activities you’d like to do or you need several to fill up your class time. Pas de problème ! You can choose to do rotating stations of 20 or 30 minutes each. For example, half of the class could work on filling out their American trivia sheet while the other half guesses how many candies are in the jar.
Other TAPIF tips
Looking for other helpful tips for your year of the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF)? I’ve got you covered. I created a post with 19 lesson ideas from songs to books, games to activities. If you’re looking for TAPIF tips outside of the classroom, I also wrote a post on the visa process as well as important things to accomplish in the first three months (opening a bank account, apartment hunting, etc.). Fair warning: my visa process was quite the doozy as it was during Covid!
Whether you want a manual activity like making an American flag or the Statue of Liberty’s crown or prefer delving deeper with trivia questions or a mini history lesson, you’re good to go. TAPIF is a great program to share the basics of English, but what makes it rich and meaningful is sharing your home culture with the students. Good luck on planning your TAPIF American-themed lesson, and share your ideas in the comments.