It is that time of the year again as the nights become longer and the days become shorter that we start thinking about Christmas. The presents under the tree, the lights brightening the night sky. Families coming together and children start singing carols. This time comes quicker and quicker every year and it might be time you mix things up a bit and try and incorporate new vocabulary and games to help teach English.
There are a range of activities that can be done that are fun for both the children and the parents or babysitters. Below we will discuss a range of ways to encourage the use of the English language based around the festive theme of Christmas.
Make Christmas Cards
This is where you and the children can start getting creative. Making Christmas cards and writing them in English is a fun way to introduce English Vocabulary while still having a lot of fun. One good thing to do it use handprints on the cards. So if you have green paint you can make a handprint with the children’s card and turn it into a tree. Then if you have white paint you could turn it into an angel with a halo. Draw or paint the presents under the tree and discuss in English what they could include on the front of the card. Then on the inside, they can write:
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
What is great about this activity is it is very personal to the child on what they want to include and as we said in a previous blog post, art and English are a great combination.
Pin the nose of the reindeer
The is an adaptation of Pin the tail on the donkey and is a great game to practise children’s direction giving and receiving. Have a drawing or print out of a reindeer. Then blindfold the child and give them a big red nose to stick on the reindeer. Before letting them try to pin the nose of the reindeer, spin them around three times. The children can take turns giving directions to the child blindfolds. This is a fun and proactive game that makes children really think about what they are saying and hearing.
Listen to English speaking Christmas songs
The great thing about Christmas songs is that they are very repetitive (that is why they ALWAYS get stuck in your head). But this makes them great for learning new vocabulary for non-native speakers. Some examples are ‘Rocking around the Christmas Tree’ and ‘Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock’. There are so many to chose from you could never run out. These songs can be played in the background while doing another activity or this can be turned into an activity its self. Print off the lyrics and go through the words. If there are any words the children don’t understand or don’t know how to pronounce you can help them.
Pass the Parcel
You can adapt this classic Christmas games to help encourage learning English. This game would be best with a bigger group of children. Wrap up a central present (something like a toy or treat depending on their age) with several layers of wrapping paper. In between each layer of wrapping write a note in English with an activity, they have to do. They might have to act something out while other people guess what they are or use words to describe a Christmas themed object. Some music is played and the parcel is pasted along, as the music stops whoever has the parcel needs to open a later. Then they have to do the activity, this continues until the present is finally opened.
Write a letter to Santa
This is a great activity for practising their English writing skills. A lot of the games we talk about in the blog are using reading and speaking skills but it is important to have good writing skills too. So for this activity, you can also get creative and decorate the card with glitter and colours. Then the main objective is to write what they would like for Christmas. This will test if the children know how to spell their favourite toys in English. If they don’t know the word in English or don’t know how to spell it you can help them and then send the letter to Santa. Its is a great way to get children writing English without it feeling like a chore.
Watch Christmas movies in English
Although on this blog we encourage more proactive activities some times everyone needs a little time to rest. Maybe it has been a long day or the children are tired. There are so many English speaking Christmas movie out there that you have plenty of choices. This would be better for other children with a more advanced level of English but it is a great way to round off a long day. Some personal favourites are ‘Muppet Song: Muppet Christmas Carol’ which has some great catchy song that children will love. There is also ‘Elf’ which follows a story about a man raised as an elf at the North Pole decides to travel to New York City to locate his real father when he discovers he is human.
I hope these different activities add a spring in your step and your English Language this Christmas. I hope you enjoy the festivities. Until next time…