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xmas card

How to decorate your ESL Classroom for Christmas in 7 simple steps

As the saying goes Christmas ‘is the most wonderful time of the year’, but depending on where you are teaching in the world, Christmas may not be a traditional holiday there. As an English language teacher, it is your job to teach your students about the culture and traditions of English-speaking nations, as well as the language.

The Christmas session is an excellent opportunity for this. Thankfully, there is no need to spend lots of money on buying decorations for your classroom and depending on where you live they may not be readily accessible anyway.

So to in order to help spark some Christmas inspiration in you, we have compiled a list of fun Christmas-themed arts and crafts activities that you can do with your students to decorate your classroom (and make your ESL Christmas lessons a little more exciting!)

Not only will they help transform your classroom into your very own Winter Wonderland but these activities will help reinforce the Christmas vocabulary you have taught in previous lessons.

  1. Paper chain decorations

Nothing symbolizes a festivity more than some Christmas bunting. Fortunately, these simple and easy-to-make paper chains can be made by English language students of all ages. All you need is:

  • Coloured Paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Once your students have made this colourful bunting, drape it across the room. Not only will the paper chain decorations brighten up your classroom but they can also be used to teach and practice the different colours in English. You can also test your student’s counting skills, by asking them how many of the paper chains are in a certain colour.

  1. Christmas cards

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the classic Christmas card. You can really let your students’ creativity and imagination shine through with this activity. They can colour in, paint, or decorate their own personal Christmas Cards. Depending on their age (and your preference), your students can either draw their own Christmas image of Santa or Rudolph, etc or you can provide them with a Christmas card template downloaded from the Internet that they can colour in.

For your older students, a Christmas card is an excellent way for them to practice their writing skills and test their knowledge of seasonal phrases. Younger students can also practice their writing skills, however, it is advisable to let them trace over the phrases instead, (depending on their level of English and age).

Once the cards have been completed, you can hang them around the classroom to give it a Christmas feel. Remember to let your students give their Christmas cards to their classmates or to a family member before your classes end for this winter holiday. They will be as proud as punch when they give their very own card to one of their loved ones.

  1. Christmas baubles.

You can print off baubles with different designs online. Give the paper baubles to your students to decorate in class. They can decorate these Christmas tree decorations with stickers, glitter, or their colouring pencils. Once the baubles have been coloured in, poke a hole in the top of them, and string a ribbon or string through the hole. Now, your baubles can either be hung from the ceiling, or on  Christmas a Christmas tree.

If you don’t have a Christmas tree in your urclassroom, you can make one to hang your baubles from. All you need is some big pieces of green paper cut into triangles, layer them up on top of each other until they resemble the shape of a Christmas tree. Then your students can stick their handmade Christmas decorations onto the tree.

  1. Frosty the Snowman

With some cotton wool balls, glue, and an outline picture of a snowman, your students can bring their very own version of Frosty the Snowman to life. The use of cotton balls is a creative and different way to represent the snow that blankets many countries during their coldest months.

All you will need is:

  • Cotton wool balls
  • Glue
  • Outlined picture of a snowman
  1. Christmas characters and symbols.

A printer is one of the best things a teacher can own, and a great way to create your own Christmas decorations. Before the holiday season begins, print off the different symbols and characters that are synonymous with Christmas, that that you plan to teach your students about in your Christmas-themed ESL lessons. Place these images around the classroom in different places. Once they are postered around the room, these images of Christmas crackers or elves etc will help your students recognize Christmas imagery and familiarize themselves with the vocabulary they have learned in previous lessons

Apart from acting as Christmas decorations, these symbols can be used in vocabulary reinforcing activities too. For instance, you can practice your prepositions in class, by getting your students to describe where the images are located in the room in relation to other objects. You can also get them to practice their recognition and speaking skills with a game of ‘I Spy’ or by shouting out the name of a symbol out loud and seeing what students can point to the correct image first. All these activities will help solidify these new words into your students’ vocabulary and provide easy stress-free games to fill up your ESL lesson plans.

  1. Santa’s letterbox.

Now, creating a letterbox so your students can send their Christmas letters to Santa will take a little creativity on your part but making one is quite easy.

All you need is:

  • A cardboard box
  • Artistic ability
  • Cardboard cutter or scissors

Once you have cut a rectangular hole into the cardboard box, you can decorate Santa’s letterbox as you see fit. Having a letterbox that goes directly to the North Pole will cause great excitement among your younger students. They can practice their writing skills, their vocabulary knowledge, and their imagination when writing their Christmas letters for Santa. Having a Santa’s Letterbox is also a great way to try and control your students if they get a little too giddy during class time, nobody wants their name going on the Naughty List, and seeing your letterbox is a direct line to Santa and his elves, they will be on their best behavior.

  1. Christmas music

Hearing ‘I m dreaming of a white Christmas’ when you enter your classroom each morning is bound to put anyone in the Christmas spirit. Playing holiday music throughout the day or during arts and crafts activities will create an excited and happy atmosphere in your classroom. Listening to songs in English will also help your students’ aural and speaking abilities, as they sing along to the songs and practice their singing (speaking) skills. Popular and easy Christmas songs to play and teach to your students include: ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ and ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’.


If you follow these 7 simple steps, your ESL classroom will be decorated for the Christmas season in no time!

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