The holidays are fast approaching and you’re probably scrambling to come up with some ideas for what to do with your students. Never fear, TEFL Express has some fresh ideas to make this a merry and festive season in your classroom. Read on for ideas about TEFL Christmas parties, themed lessons, project lessons and more.
Parties are a great way to celebrate the season and have fun in your classroom. There are a few ways to do this: a school-wide event, stations with fellow teachers or simply an in class party. How much time you can or should dedicate to the party is up to you. One thing to decide before starting to plan is whether you are planning an English themed event or simply having a party. To help you consider this, I recommend checking out my post on TEFL parties.
I’ve taken part in a number of different styles of school-wide events over the years. Some of them have been disasters and some of them have been not only educational, but a lot of fun. The key difference in the success of the event is the amount of organization and whether specific individuals know what they are in charge of. One person can’t do it all themselves and trying to only gets in the way.
One school-wide holiday event that works fairly well is a performance of some kind. Teachers can practice songs with their students and choreograph the song. On performance night, have the students sing, dance or act in English in front of the parents. Practicing for the performance in class can be a fun addition to the lesson and not a detractor…as long as it isn’t a last minute rush to memorize the lyrics and dance.
Another idea, which I’m doing with my school this year, is a Christmas Fair. We are going to turn a nearby community center into a winter wonderland with craft stations, game stations, hot chocolate, scavenger hunts and more. Students and their parents will be given a map and a list of the stations so they don’t miss anything. Fingers crossed, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.
It might be a little late to start planning a school-wide Christmas party (I started planning our school’s event a week after Halloween). However, you can still organize some inter-class Christmas activities to bring your students together. What you’ll need are three to five other teachers who also want to organize a party for their students and who have their class at the same time.
Let’s say there are three of you. This means that you have three different classrooms and therefor the ability to create three separate stations. One of you could dress like Santa and teach them a holiday song, the other teacher could be in charge of an easy craft station and the last teacher could be in charge of a fun themed game. If you had a one and a half hour class, each station would last for twenty five minutes. At the end, the students then move to the next classroom for the following activity.
It’s fun for the students and easier for you as a teacher. Instead of planning three separate activities and trying to set up your class for all of the above things, you only need to be in charge of one thing that you do three times. I’ve done this in the past at state schools in Hanoi, and it worked a treat. Although, I can’t stress enough the importance of getting permission before you do this.
A Themed Lesson
Let’s say that you don’t have room in your syllabus to allow for a party day. Maybe you’re even behind the pacing guide and think that the idea of a Christmas party seems a bit irresponsible. If that’s the case, maybe you should simply consider theming the lesson.
You can keep the lesson aims; you simply need to dress it up a little bit so that the students feel like they’re having a party. Let me show you how you can dress up a few classic TEFL games so that they feel a bit more seasonal.
Candy Cane Fishing Game
Attach a string to the end of a candy cane. Tie the string to a magnet. Now, either on flashcards or scrap paper with the vocab from the lesson written on them, attach a paper clip. Put the cards in a circle. Elicit an answer from the whole class then have two students race to fish for the correct card.
You’re likely familiar with the game “teacher says” or “Simon says”. Bring in a Christmas hat and have the students puff out their bellies and pretend they are Santa…ho, ho , ho. Put the hat on the nominated student and instead of saying teacher says, they say Santa says. Very little effort on your part, but still fun.
Winter Wonderland Board Game
Instead of awarding stars to teams that get the correct answer, turn a large section of the whiteboard into a board game. Teams can choose a Christmas character as their game piece. Throughout the lesson, if a team gets a point, move their piece closer to finish. Again, an easy way to have fun without taking away from the lesson.
Christmas Projects and Other Ideas
Christmas projects can be adapted into any lesson as a production activity or turned into a stand alone lesson. It’s important to remember to have all the materials ready and to plan enough time so that students can finish the project. For more ideas on project lessons, check out this post. If you want a few Christmas themed project lessons for 2016, you can access them by clicking on the button below.
There are a lot of other ways to acknowledge the season in your classroom. For example, you could simply choose a classic, level appropriate, Christmas story for your kids or even adult students. To make it feel a bit more special, why not bring in a snack and a drink for them to enjoy while you tell the story?
Another thing to try is group storytelling. This works especially well if you don’t want to make Christmas the focus of the lesson. Instead, have different story prompts regarding holidays in general and get the students to share personal stories (e.g. the worst holiday you’ve ever had, a special gift you were given, etc.). Obviously, this only works with higher level students; I’d recommend pre-intermediate or above (Flyers 2 or 3 for young learners).
An annual activity that I always use with adults or teens is a Christmas quiz. Unless you’re teaching in a Western country, you’d be surprised how unfamiliar your students might be regarding Christmas. In Asia, it is often celebrated, but in a very different way. If you’d like to give my Christmas quiz a try, you can access it by clicking on the button below.
Regardless of how much or little you celebrate the holiday season, I hope that you are able to enjoy this time with your students. On behalf of TEFL tales, I’d like to wish you happy holidays. I hope to continue to improve the blog in the new year and would love to hear some of your suggestions for topics. You can leave a comment here or contact us via Facebook or Twitter. See you soon!