Merry Christmas everyone! Today’s post is a final round-up of festive activities – I’ve tried to choose fun ones that don’t take too much prep time. If you’re teaching today it’ll be a unique experience, but try to make the most of it.
Larry Ferlazzo has a great list of Christmas videos to use with your students – some of these are extracts from longer films, others stand-alone in their own right. Once you’ve chosen a video, Claudia Pesce has some good ideas of how to use them at busyteacher.org.
There are lots of different ideas for Christmas games and activities at tesolzone.com. If you’re teaching young learners on Christmas Day it’s a nice idea to make it into a Christmas party lesson using a mix of EFL games and traditional childrens’ party games.
Good EFL games:
Bingo, Pictionary, Hangman, 20 Questions/Back to the Board (use Christmas vocab throughout!)
Childrens’ party games:
Musical statues, Musical Chairs, Pin the Nose on Rudolph, Pass the Parcel
I’ll be taking a few days off from the blog between now and New Year, so have a happy and peaceful Christmas, and I’ll see you in 2017!
Christmas Adverts – 24th December
Yesterday I talked about Christmas music, and it made me remember another thing Chrismas wouldn’t be Christmas about: Christmas adverts on TV! I love using adverts in class (especially the Christmas ones) as there’s definitely been an increase in recent years in ads that are more like mini-films. They’re complete enough that your students feel like they’ve watched something (and therefore done something fun!) but short enough that you can fit lots of activities around it, and it’s possible to rewatch the advert a few times getting the students to focus on different things each time. On doing some research, it seems like lots of other EFL teachers feel the same! Here’s a round-up of Christmas advert activities:
Lesson plans based on John Lewis adverts from 2011-2014 (including Monty the Penguin, the Hare and the Bear, the Snowmen and Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want). These lessons are at B1 level.
Another lesson plan (this time for B1-C1 students) based on John Lewis’ the Snowmen advert.
A B1/B2 lesson plan based on the Sainsbury’s Christmas Truce advert.
An A2-B1 lesson plan based on Mog’s Christmas Calamity (Sainsbury’s Christmas advert last year and probably my all-time favourite Christmas ad!). There are also a variety of non-EFL teaching ideas based on this advert here, some of which I think could easily be used with higher-level children or teens.
Finally, if you just want a round-up of all the Christmas adverts on UK TV this year (there are definitely some I haven’t seen here!) The Telegraph presents their best Christmas adverts of 2016 (with embedded video).
Christmas Songs – 23rd December
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Christmas music, would it? Here in the UK shops and radios have been playing seemingly nothing but festive tunes since mid-November and I’m thoroughly sick of them, but they’re still nice to introduce a bit of Christmas spirit into your classrooms.
Several websites have simplified lyrics for various traditional Christmas carols, such as these from LanternFish and these (with accompanying activity ideas) from Fluentu.com.
ESOLcourses.com has lots of gap fill and multiple-choice activities for Christmas songs (helpfully grouped by student level).
For those of you teaching young learners, the British Council has some Christmas songs written especially for kids:
Santa, High in the Sky
The Busy Elf
All of these have an accompanying animated video and activities to do online or print.
I’ve mentioned Super Simple Songs a couple of times before as being a great resource for those teaching the younger end of young learners, and they also have a selection of Christmas songs, including a simple version of Jingle Bells.
Finally, there are some lovely ideas for action Christmas songs at funandfantasticlearning.com. I can see many of these working really well for those of you who teach pre-school age children.
Winter Activities – 22nd December
Although I’m sharing Christmas activities left, right and centre, you may well be teaching in a country where Christmas isn’t celebrated. Whilst you may be able to incorporate some Christmas material (as it relates to the culture of English-speaking countries) you may be working in an environment where it isn’t appropriate, or you may simply be ‘all Christmassed out’!
Today I’m going to share some ‘winter’ themed activities for your young learners- with no Christmas in sight, so these could still be used in January (or even in July and August in the Southern Hemisphere!)
First of all, Snowflakes. Although it may seem like there’s little education value in making these, they can be a useful craft for very young learners who are still developing their fine motor skills, including using scissors. You can also use them to review shapes, buy asking your students to cut squares, triangles, circles, or rectangles.
I also found this great booklet for young learners who are learning clothing vocabulary and who need to review colours. ‘What I Wear in Winter‘ contains spaces for your students to draw, colour, and write the names of colours. This would be a nice follow up activity after a song, such as ‘Put on Your Shoes’ by Super Simple Songs or ‘My Clothes’ by ELF Kids Videos.
If you have an Interactive Whiteboard you might also like LanternFish’s ‘Winter Quiz Game’‘Winter Quiz Game’, which takes the same format as jeopardy.
Application for Santa Visit – 21st December
Christmas is fast approaching now – can’t believe it’s only four more days until the big day itself! Children in the UK and US will have already written their letters to Santa, but it’s not too late for your students to get in on the act. Even if your students are a bit too old to write a letter to Santa, it’s still possible to use this theme as a topic with teen or adult students. Wondering how? Read on and find out…
My first resource today is one that was shared with me while working at BKC International House, Moscow. Ever thought that simply asking your child to write a letter was far too simplistic to secure a letter from Santa? The Application for Santa Visit lets you know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes. Be warned, the language in this is advanced, but it’s a fun activity for your high level students (or might make your colleagues smile if it’s too tough for your students). I like the idea of getting students to interview each other and complete the form with their partners’ answers.
You can download the PDF document here: application-for-santa-visit
If you’re looking for a similar concept, but with slightly easier language (or if your students aren’t quite sure how good they’ve been!) LanternFish have a ‘Kindometer’ and a ‘Notometer’ for your students to fill out. Once your students have completed their own (or their partner’s) answers, they could interview their teacher, come up with alternative questions, or plead their case!
You can download the ‘Kindometer’ and ‘Notometer’ here: notometer kindometer (both Word Documents)
Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean! – 20th December
For: Children, teens or low-level adults
Level: Elementary plus
The lesson plan and resources I’m sharing today have been an absolute life-saver – I think I’ve used them at least once every Christmas I’ve been teaching (apart from this year when one of my colleagues got there first!). For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mr. Bean, it’s a British sitcom following the (mis)adventures of a bumbling ‘man within a child’s body’. As the comedy is mostly physical and there’s very little dialogue involved, it’s great for low-level EFL learners and it also gives them a valuable insight into British culture.
David Mainwood at The EFL SMARTblog has a great set of worksheets for use with the video (which can be watched on Youtube if you don’t have access to the DVD). If you scroll down to the bottom of the page there are printable versions, which include an ordering task, true or false questions, discussion questions, review of past simple, and a Christmas wordsearch. Choose the activities which are most appropriate for the age and/or level of your class, or simply show the video and ask the students questions at intervals – either based on what they have just seen, or what they think is going to happen next.
As many of the elements of ‘Merry Christmas Mr. Bean’ show a traditional British Christmas (carol singing, cooking a turkey, sending Christmas cards, hanging up stockings, kissing under the mistletoe) this video also allows you to show students how we usually celebrate Christmas (rather than simply talking about it or using a listening/reading exercise on the topic).
Christmas: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – 19th December
Don’t worry – I haven’t turned into Scrooge and lost all Christmas spirit. I have noticed, however, that a great way to engage adult students and get them talking (particularly those who are often reluctant participants in the lesson) is to let them have a bit of a moan.
Today I bring you a resource that’s going to give your students the opportunity to do just that: Keith Sand’s ‘Christmas – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, (courtesy of the British Council) in which he bemoans the commercialisation of Christmas. There’s an audio version as well as a downloadable PDF so you can choose whether or not to use this as a listening or a reading activity, as well as a follow-up True/False reading activity.
It’d be easy to create a whole lesson around this article: ideas include discussing how this compares to the celebration of Christmas (or other main holidays) in students’ own countries, a class debate (Should Christmas be banned?), or a Room 101 type activity, where students create their own list of pet hates surrounding a particular theme and then vote whether or not they should be placed in ‘Room 101’ and removed forever.
If you’d like to explore these ideas further with your class, the British Council has a similar article (and associated activities) about Consumerism.