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ESL Christmas Activities & Games

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

This lesson contains activity ideas to teach Christmas topics, including vocabulary and readings on the subject. The activity ideas are designed to engage students in the practical usage of language related to Christmas.

Colorful & Happy Time of Year

The language related to Christmas time has the advantage to easily motivate ESL students because the holiday is colorful and happy. By pointing at these and other characteristics of Christmas celebrations, you can engage your students into any related activity. It is important to note, however, that ESL classes are diverse and there could be many students who either do not celebrate Christmas for religious or cultural reasons or come from backgrounds where Christmas is a hard memory given the commercial aspect of it and a given economic situation.

For the above mentioned reasons, Christmas language activities should be introduced in an engaging manner by asking students to name some positive characteristics of the season. Either one or more of the following activities would follow the introduction.

The Christmas Verbs

This activity involves vocabulary that is specific of Christmas time but is in combination with the usage of verbs that apply to each word you decide to teach. The list of words includes but is not limited to 'Christmas tree,' 'eggnog,' 'stockings,' 'presents,' etc.

Once the vocabulary is understood by students, they would work in pairs or groups of three or more people in order to form a sentence to complete the prompt 'At Christmas time, people. . .' with a verb that applies to each word. For instance, students could say 'At Christmas time, people buy/decorate a Christmas tree,' '. . .drink/make eggnog,' '. . .hang/stuff stockings,' '. . .give/buy/receive presents,' etc.

It would be useful to encourage students to form two sentences for each vocabulary word. Then, pairs or groups of students will present to the class the sentences they produced. As an alternative, your students could have a limited time to produce the sentences and this would make the activity like a competition to see who is the fastest group of students.

Christmas Recipes

For this activity, group your students together and give each group a Christmas recipe such as 'turkey stuffing,' 'eggnog,' 'ginger cookies,' etc. However, the recipe's ingredients and steps would be cut into pieces. Thus, students would have to accomplish two tasks in order to put the recipes in the correct order.

First, the ingredients would have to be grouped by type. For example, 'dry ingredients,' 'liquids,' 'vegetables,' 'spices,' etc.

Next, the recipe's would be put in the order they should happen to successfully make the respective recipe.

After, students can present to the class their own recipe and, alternatively, you could have a Powerpoint with images of the resulting product of each recipe, so that students fully comprehend the recipes.

Finally, this activity is versatile as it can be performed by having students put in order the steps of manually making a Christmas decoration. This can include but is not limited to a Christmas tree, a snowman, a stocking, etc.

Christmas Quiz

Once your students are familiarized with Christmas vocabulary, you could give them a 'fill in the blank' quiz so they can actively use the learned words. Examples of sentences you could include in the Christmas quiz are as follows:

Words to use: decorating, turkey, presents.

  • We bought the _____ for our Christmas dinner yesterday.
  • I received many _____ last Christmas.
  • I look forward to _____ the Christmas tree.

You can correct these sentences by having students read their answers aloud.

Christmas Songs

A great way to familiarize ESL students with Christmas vocabulary is by giving them a song to listen to. However, it is best to use the song in order to check for students' listening skills. For instance, after students listen to a Christmas song, you could ask them questions about it.

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