10 ESL Christmas Activities

Introducing some ESL Christmas activities over the festive period is a great way to stir up some festive cheer with your students. With Christmas just around the corner, you’re probably feeling the need to incorporate the holiday into your ESL lessons.

Class Christmas partyInstead of just giving your students some vocab lists or reading activities, you can try out one of these fun and unique ways to introduce your ESL students to Christmas customs and vocabulary.

White Elephant Gift Exchange

This is a fun Christmas tradition that you can teach your students. The basic rules are: each student will choose a number to determine what order they will go in. The first person chooses a gift from the pile, opens it, and lets everyone see it.

The next person can choose to either open a new gift or take the one already opened. Everyone will have a chance to either “steal” a gift from someone else, or open a new one until all the gifts have been opened.

Be careful playing this with younger students, as it can lead to high emotions if a gift they like gets taken from them.

If your students are older, you can have them buy an inexpensive gift; you could make it a candy gift exchange, where each student has to bring in some sort of candy or cookie, or you can have them use class time to make something to give away as presents (see some of the craft ideas below that they could make for the White Elephant Gift Exchange). Find the full list of rules here.

Christmas Carol Mashup

If your students are already familiar with some of the more famous Christmas carols, you can review the lyrics, and then give the students some old English magazines or newspapers.

They work in teams to try to find and cut out the words making up the carol. The first team to complete the chorus, a verse, or even one line, is the winner.

Go Caroling Around the School

What better way to spread Christmas cheer than a caroling trip around your school? Check with the other teachers and the administrative staff to make sure they know what time you and your students will be coming.

Make Stockings

Introduce your students to a popular western Christmas tradition by letting them participate directly in it. You can buy pre-made stockings to let them decorate, or sew simple stockings out of felt. On the last day of school before Christmas, you can fill the stockings with some little treats for your students.

Write a Letter to Santa

Let students set aside some time to tell the big guy how nice they’ve been this year, and tell him what they want for Christmas. Students get to practice their letter writing skills, and they get to daydream about all the cool presents Santa will bring them, so this activity is a win-win.

Decorate a Class Christmas Tree

Add some holiday cheer to your classroom by finding a small Christmas tree that you can all decorate together. Let your students make their own ornaments to decorate the tree with, or make presents to put underneath it.

Easy Christmas Crafts

You can find all sorts of easy Christmas crafts to make in your classroom. One of my favorite lists is here. The great thing about this list is that almost every project uses pretty basic materials that you can easily find at a grocery store, making them easy and inexpensive to set up.

Throw a Christmas Party

Take a break from the lessons and worksheets to have a class Christmas party. Set aside time for a gift exchange, decorating your Christmas tree, singing carols, reading Christmas stories, and of course, having all sorts of Christmas goodies.

Make Christmas Cookies

There are all sorts of very simple Christmas cookie recipes that you can find online. Since your classroom and school probably doesn’t have too elaborate of a kitchen with an oven to bake traditional cookies, here are a few options of no-bake cookies you could make right in the classroom: rice Krispie cookies, no bake oatmeal cookies , or any of these delectable no-bake treats.

Watch Christmas Cartoons

Christmas cartoons, like A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are an essential part of the holidays for many families.

Watching these cartoons, talking about the characters, vocabulary, themes, and grammar patterns can have a lot of benefits for your students, especially if they are intermediate to advanced.

It teaches your students about important parts of Christmas culture, introduces famous fictional characters, gives them great listening practice for Christmas vocabulary, and gives you all a break from the normal routine of your ESL lessons.

Have you come up with any great ideas for your Christmas classes this year? We would love to hear about them! Let us know in the comments section below. 

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