Saturday, 17 December 2016

It's Christmas time ...

It's that time of the year again. Joyful and happy, stressful and hectic. There's much more going on in school and somehow you have to balance that with your just-as-eventful private life. Somehow find time for everything. Add to that students with their minds already on holidays (if they're in school at all) and there you have it: the joy of teaching in December. Whatever you think of Christmas time, one thing is for sure: your ordinary lesson plans just won't do. Here's what I did/will be doing with my students this December:

First and second graders
  • The snowflake quiz

This lesson plan comes from Super Simple Learning and my youngest seem to love it. What we did was sing the Little Snowflake song, make paper snowflakes and competed in a Snowflake Quiz (the Falling snowflakes activity). The latter  is not only fun, but also a great way to revise vocabulary before assessing.

  • Christmas games

Even though I'm sure there are special Christmas games for children out there, I took the simple way out and just adopted some of the games I normally play with my students and gave them a holiday theme. For example, we often play Simon Says with my students but in December we play Santa Says. Instead of Spiders and Candy we play Grinch and Presents. We do the Freeze Dance to Christmas songs. You get the idea.

  • Christmas songs

Personally, I don't think it's always reasonable to teach traditional Christmas carols with complex lyrics and obsolete language at this level. But since most of my students are already familiar with the most famous ones, I decided to focus on two of the most famous Christmas songs anyway: We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Jingle Bells. I did choose slightly modified versions, however. As for the first one, I only teach the chorus (see my favourite version by Maple Leaf Learning HERE), and as for the second one, the Happy Street version is just perfect.

  • A letter to Father Christmas

My first and second graders don't write in English yet. What they can do, however, is either draw or cut and paste pictures of different kinds of toys they want for Christmas on a sheet of paper and then "read" their letters to one another. 

There are loads of Christmas catalogues from different shops, why not make use of them?

Here's the amount of catalogues I was given by the friendly staff at Müller Ljubljana.

  • Reading Christmas storybooks
My favourite ones include: Father Christmas (Playway to English 1 story cards), Rudolph The Red-Nosed ReindeerPeppa's Christmas and Peppa's Christmas Wish (also available as Youtube videos), The Mitten (My Fairyland 1 story cards) and others. Find more HERE or HERE

  • Making Christmas cards

You just cannot get through December without making Christmas cards. But one thing's for sure: I'm not writing them by hand this year! Here are some ideas for Christmas card designs:

Made by my first graders with my humble assistance

Made by students from our school for our Christmas Bazaar

As for older students, we're on a much tighter curriculum and testing takes place right after holidays so if you want to have Christmas lessons, you just have to find a way to incorporate them into whatever language goals you're dealing with at that moment. This is how I do it:

Fourth graders
Here's where we can finally write some real letters to Father Christmas. We're using Happy Street coursebooks and we've just finished discussing toys. Also, letter writing is one of our main topics this year (we even started a penfriend project with another school, more on this in one of my future posts) so writing a letter to Father Christmas is the obvious next step. Instead of posting them, we'll pin them around the classroom for Father Christmas - and everyone else - to see. Not that any of the students in fourth grade still believe in Father Christmas, but they do like getting their work exhibited around the classroom.

Sixth graders
There are two language goals we're currently dealing with that I managed to squeeze into my Christmas lessons: location (There is/are + prepositions of place) and the Present Simple Tense. 

The first one is easy. All you have to do is place different festive objects around the classroom and leave it to the students to describe their location. To make it more fun, you can hide the objects and play a little Hide-and-seek or guessing games. Who says grammar has to be dull?

Now that we covered the location part with Christmas games, it's time for Present Simple. We're doing that with a Christmas song and with a little help from my friend Mariah Carey. Yes, it's All I Want For Christmas. And why not? The first part is full of Present Simple examples and there's plenty of things you can do with it: gap fills, rewriting the song in the third person singular, writing your own similar songs etc. And since the second part of the song is rich with Future Simple, that makes it perfect for older students as well. For more ideas of working with music lyrics, see on of my previous posts.

Here's my friend Mariah. There's also a version of this song with Justin Bieber if you think your students would like it. And of course, the ever adorable Love Actually version!

Eighth graders
We're discussing charity and if that doesn't scream Christmas, I don't know what does. I found some great Christmas charity resources on and if you want to take a sneak peek, you can find the teacher code for their materials HERE

Ninth graders
We're dealing with national cuisines and we've just started to discuss the passive voice. You know there's only one thing we can do here, right? That's right, Christmas recipes! We'll write them in the passive voice: first in the present passive to describe the recipe and then the past passive to explain how they'd done it. And maybe they could even bring proof they'd actually done it to the classroom? :)

So here you have it - my festive season survival plan. For more ideas, see some of my previous posts on Christmas/winter lessons: CLICK, CLICK nad CLICK.

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