Children from east central Minnesota recently participated in the 21st annual Swedish Language and Culture Day Camp located at the West Riverside Historic Site near Cambridge.
The Minnesota program is sponsored by the Isanti County Historical Society (ICHS) and was led by Valorie Arrowsmith, Kathy Olson, Luke and Sara Snell.
Besides language, games and craft classes, there was extensive use of “phrases of the day.” The camp staff provided incentives for participants to speak as much Swedish as possible each day using phrases that included common conversation starters, such as questions related to meal time: “Do you like juice?” Participants could answer by saying, “yes,” or “no,” or they could give a longer answer using a complete sentence. Another question focused on Kubb, a Viking throwing game, which was offered during game time with Luke Snell.
“What do you think about KUBB?” Possible answers were, “hard, easy, fun,” or a combination of any of those.
At the end of each day, the “secret leader,” who had been observing to see who spoke the most Swedish, awarded prize to a few campers. Prizes were donated by banks, museums, tourism agencies and chambers of commerce organizations in Dalarna, Sweden.
Visiting Grandpa Mike Johnson of Mora, morfar to two of the campers, carved wooden roosters for the participants ready for the crafts class. Under his guidance and that of teacher Kathy Olson, children painted them according to traditional designs or their own interpretation of the folk traditions presented. Olson also taught the children how to make traditional Christmas tree ornaments called julgranskaramel, and blue and yellow woven heart baskets.
Reading, singing, learning about culture, and doing lively actions using TPR (total physical response) occurred in the classes with Arrowsmith. Students began lessons by learning to read a short question in Swedish related to what they were doing at camp, and then learned three possible answers. Examples included, “What will we do today?” “We will play Kubb” or “We will read.”
During TPR activities, learners said a verb while simultaneously completing the action. This language strategy, founded by James Asher in the 1960s, gives participants opportunities to use the command forms, such as “swim, stand up, wave, clap, clap quickly and clap slowly.” Asher believes that the brain makes many connections during the process of seeing, hearing, saying and doing, and therefore makes it easier to recall a word when it has been learned by enacting its appropriate action.
Parents and grandparents had a chance to participate in some of the activities at the end of the week when campers gave a program to show what they had learned.
Next year’s camp dates are August 15-19, 2011 at the West Riverside Historic Site, two miles west and north of Cambridge, MN. Children ages 5 to 13 are invited for a five day camp, and pre-school children, ages 4 and 5, may join the camp for three days.
Upcoming Swedish classes for adults at the high intermediate level are held this fall at the ICHS. For information contact (763) 689-6227 or www.ichs.ws.