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7 Christmas and New Year's Classroom Activities

December 20, 2012

’Tis the season...

In the last few weeks leading up to the holidays, students usually get restless. Even if they don’t celebrate Christmas in their own cultures, most are looking forward to having some time off. Throwing in some fun-filled activities that are different from your normal class routine will be well received! Also, students will appreciate learning about the holiday traditions of different cultures. These tried-and-tested Christmas and New Year's activities will make this time of year special for everyone.

1. Secret Santa

This can be done within one class or as a school-wide event. Find out who wants to participate (as students may have to spend their own money, it should be voluntary) and have them write their names on a slip of paper. Mix the slips up and pass them out to the students. Tell your students that they are responsible for purchasing or making a gift for the person whose name is on the slip. Set a dollar limit ($5.00 for example) and remind students not to tell each other who they are buying for. On the last day of school before Christmas break, students can present their wrapped gifts to each other. As a fun variation, the gifts can be hidden around the school or classroom and students can hunt for their presents. Who doesn’t love presents?

2. Holiday Lessons

Turn the holiday season into an opportunity to learn! At ESL Library, we’ve got lower level and intermediate lessons on Chanukah, Christmas, New Year’s, and Kwanzaa. The lessons each contain reading, vocabulary, speaking, and writing exercises, as well as other fun activities like songs and “find someone who.” There’s lots of fascinating information about the history and culture of these holidays for you and your students to discover.

3. Christmas Party

Let’s face it, on the last day before the Christmas break, your students won’t be in the mood for any heavy learning. Make this day fun and special by having a class party. Students can decorate by cutting out snowflakes out of paper to put up on the windows or the walls of their classroom. A pot-luck lunch usually works well, with each student bringing in food to share. Encourage students to prepare a dish from their native country, if they can. Have the students briefly explain their dish before everyone digs in. Students usually love this opportunity to learn about the food in other cultures, especially when they get to experience it firsthand! In addition to (or instead of) the food, you can prepare fun Christmas activities, songs, or even a movie about Christmas (there are tons of choices out there). See the rest of this blog post for ideas!

4. Holiday Flashcards

ESL Library has a bunch of holiday flashcards you can use. Check out our Christmas Flashcards and ideas on how to use them. There are lots of fun activities you can do with your class, such as memory games, hot seat (or cold seat, depending where you live), making your own cartoons, and more. 

5. Christmas Field Trip

Most cities usually have lots of places with Christmas displays. For example, there is a hotel in Vancouver, BC, Canada that has a huge Christmas tree display. You might also check out a local event such as a choir performing Christmas carols outdoors. You can incorporate an activity into the outing, such as learning the carols beforehand, marking off a checklist, or writing a paragraph about what they saw. It’s a good way to get into the Christmas spirit!

6. Christmas Discussions

Use this opportunity to get some lively conversations going. You can write discussion questions on the board and have students discuss in pairs, groups, or as a class. Beginner students can talk about simple things such as what kinds of presents they buy and like to receive, or what they want for Christmas this year. They could also discuss the different Christmas traditions they follow within their family or culture, including food and activities. If you have students who don’t celebrate Christmas, have them discuss another holiday that takes place in December or January. More advanced students can discuss topics such as the commercialism of Christmas and their cultural traditions in depth. Students usually love finding out about other cultures! If your class contains students who are all from the same country, have them tell you about their traditions and tell them about yours, or focus on variations between families.

7. New Year’s Resolutions

Find out which students usually make New Year’s resolutions and have them explain the concept to the rest of the class. Brainstorm some examples together, and then have students make their own lists. You could assign a limit such as five or ten resolutions. Afterwards, have the students share their lists with their partners or in small groups. This also makes a great homework activity. Have students write their lists for homework, and discuss them the next day. 

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