cartoon picture of a smiling potato

Purpose:  to practice conjugating verbs in a fun and energizing game

Preparation Time:  none

Materials Needed:  a soft ball or beanbag


a smiling woman giving a thumbs up

Purpose:  to practice responding to verbal questions, and explaining rationale for responses

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  Set of yes/no questions, true/false questions, or agree/disagree statements


question mark made out of multi-colored post-it notes

Purpose:  to give learners practice comparing and contrasting a wide variety of responses to a question or prompt

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  Analyze Responses Grids


Purpose:  To give learners practice asking and answering questions

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Preparation: Find a reading passage at students' level

Materials Needed:  Copies of a short read passage at students' level  


woman with pink hair holding a sign at a protest that reads we are all humans

All over the country, there is talk of the increasing number of ICE raids over the past few years. When someone is arrested by ICE, it may lead to their removal from the U.S., or it may not. This uncertainty leads to fear in immigrant communities, and it is extremely important that people who may be subject to detention and removal are familiar with their rights. 

a pile of pastel colored stopwatches

Purpose:  to help learners develop their speaking fluency on a variety of topics in a low pressure environment

Preparation Time:  none

Materials Needed:  index cards


woman holding a finger to her chin and looking thoughtful

Purpose:  to help learners improve their listening and recollection skills, as well as practice responding to questions.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  mini-whiteboards, markers, erasers


  1. Generate a list of 2-5 questions that tie into the current group theme.

Example 1:

(Low beginning level group, theme of family)

Ugandan boy holding a string woven between his fingers in front of his face

Wherever you get your news, you will hear talk about immigrants and refugees coming to the U.S. With all of the rhetoric flying around, it can be difficult to determine the actual impact that immigrants and refugees have on local communities.

These three websites dispel common myths around immigration and refugees, and provide valuable links for further reading on the topic.


Immigration Myths and Facts

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

In Minnesota, we are lucky to have passionate, engaged elected officials who partner with us to protect and strengthen AmeriCorps VISTA programs like Summer Reads and Literacy Leadership. Special thanks to Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Minnesota Senator John Marty, and Amy Johnson Korba from US Senator Tina Smith’s office for visiting our VISTA programs in action at Open Door Learning Center-Arlington Hills in July 2019.

black and gray silhouettes of raised hands

A noisy classroom can be a great thing. It indicates that learners are engaged in the lesson and practicing their language skills. But how do you get the class back together at the end of an activity? Trying to yell over the class can sound harsh, and strain your vocal cords if you have a particularly talkative group! Here are suggestions for attention-getting methods that you can use in a loud classroom without losing your voice or your patience.


Silent Hand Raise



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