4 Christmas ELT Activities For Your Classroom
The festive season is officially upon us!
To help you celebrate, we thought we’d share some Christmas ELT activities to get you and your class in the spirit of Christmas.
Our teacher trainer Stacey Hughes from the Professional Development team here in Oxford has prepared some multi-level Christmas ELT activities for you to use in your classroom. Enjoy a round-robin writing activity, practice some seasonal vocabulary revision, and plenty more. The perfect antidote for any Scrooge!
12 days of Christmas
Crazy Gapped text
ROUND-ROBIN LETTER (Writing)
Level: pre-intermediate to advanced Any age group
If you don’t celebrate Christmas, you can still round off the year with a Round Robin letter. Round Robin letters are a sort of family newsletter which is sent to members of the (extended) family or to close friends.
1. Start by telling the class that you’ve received your first Round Robin letter of the year and that you’re going to read it to them. They should listen and tell you what they think a round robin letter is. Read the letter to the class. You can use the one below (download here) or write your own.
2. Ask the class what they think a round robin letter is - Who is it to? What kinds of information does it contain? Find out if anyone receives or writes round robin letters.
3. Tell students they are going to write a round robin letter - their audience could be the rest of the class, the school or their family.
4. Working alone at first, they should think about things that happened during the past year and write notes. A good way to do this is to use a mind map.
5. Put students into pairs. Each student should ask the other about the information on the mindmap. For example, “What happened here in March?” “Who is Raul?” Etc. This stage helps students think more deeply about their audience and what information they need to include.
6. Using the mindmap, ask students to write their letters. When they have finished, they should swap their letter with a partner who should read the letter and comment about anything that isn’t clear. Students should use this feedback to write their final drafts. Let them include photos if they wish.
Another type of Round Robin letter is one that is written by many people. Ask the class to contribute to a round robin letter on the theme of “What we’ve learned in class this term”. This will help students reflect on what they’ve learned and will also serve as a useful summary for parents or school directors. If you can, let students write their letters on the computer so that they can import pictures and also share electronically. Publish the letters on a class blog, or bulletin board or ask the students to post them to their family. 7. As a follow-up, ask students to read the letters and find 3 similar things, 3 things that are different and 3 things that surprised them.
ADVENT CALENDAR (Vocabulary)
Level: any Young Learners
Advent calendars are a popular way to count down the days until Christmas.
The calendar contains 24 numbered windows. Each day children open a new window to see the picture behind it. Modern calendars might contain sweets. You can use the idea of an advent calendar to introduce vocabulary.
1. Decide on 24 words you want students to learn or to revise. Ideally, use pictures to represent the words.
2. Create a large advent calendar to put on the wall. Behind each window, put one of the vocabulary pictures.
3. Create a routine in class. Each day, ask one child to come up and open one of the windows. This will be your word of the day.
• the best gift they’ve received or given, or
• a gift they would like to receive, or
• a holiday wish, or
• their favourite thing about Christmas.
Any age or level Get the students to create the advent calender
1. Create a large Christmas tree shape on the wall – large enough to stick 25 envelopes on it. 2. Depending on the level, ask each student to write a sentence or short paragraph describing ... The students will enjoy the anticipation of seeing whose writing is next!
12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS or 12 DAYS OF WINTER (Vocabulary revision)
Level: any Young learners, teens, adults
The 12 Days of Christmas is a popular Christmas song, and you could teach students the song and sing along. Go to www.lyricstraining.com to find the song with gap-fill activity games for beginners up to ‘expert’. (Use the search function to find the song). Pre-teach some of the more difficult vocabulary first, and use a projector and speakers to complete the activity online.
Another idea is to take just the theme of the song about giving of gifts over the 12 days of Christmas to revise vocabulary, counting and ordinals.
1. Put 12 pictures of vocabulary words or just the words into a bowl or hat. They should be large enough for the whole class to see. In the example below, the teacher is using food vocabulary.
2. Arrange the class into a circle.
3. Start by saying, “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...” then draw a card and finish the line with the vocabulary word, getting everyone to join in, e.g. “...one red apple.” Pass the hat. The student with the hat draws a card and says what’s on it. Use this for the next verse: “On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me two pears and a red apple.”
4. With each pass of the hat, the numbers increase and you count down, e.g.: “Four sweet potatoes, three bananas, two pears and a red apple.”
5. Ideally, you and the students should try to remember each item without looking back at the card!
CRAZY GAPPED TEXT (Grammar, collocation, text cohesion)
Level: pre-intermediate and above Teens, adults
If you’ve ever heard of Madlibs (www.madlibs.com), you’ll recognise this activity.
This is a favourite Madlib adaptation of mine in the EFL classroom because it raises student awareness about word forms and revises grammatical terminology, and helps students think about text cohesion, sentence structure and collocations.
1. Review the grammatical terms listed in the gapped text.
2. Put students into pairs. Give student A the gapped text. Student A should look at the grammar terms next to the gaps in the text and ask student B for a word. For example, if the gap needs an adjective, student B should say an adjective.
3. Once the gaps have been filled with the correct part of speech, the students read the text. Of course, it will sound very silly because student B won’t have seen the text to know what word would make sense!
4. Give the students another copy of the gapped text and ask them to think about what words might have been in the original text.
5. Ask students say what clues they used to fill in the blanks. For example, in the level 1 text, they may have guessed that the place was England because the letter was from the Oxford Orchestra. In the level 3 text, students will have used the collocation clue ‘Eve’ and the phrase ‘merry Christmas’ to guess the holiday.
6. Hand out the original text so that students can compare.
7. There are a number of ways to follow up:
For more details of the activity CLICK HERE
Looking for more festive ELT resources?
Stacey Hughes is a teacher trainer for Oxford University Press. She has written a number of articles for the OUP blog and Teaching Adult Newsletter. Stacey gives talks and workshops around the world – both face-to-face and via webinar.