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9 ESL Christmas games & activities for your classroom.

The Christmas season gives you the perfect opportunity to have fun with your students and teach them at the same time. There are plenty of Christmas games and activities that will help your kids get into the Christmas spirit without even realising they are learning English vocabulary at the same time. We have compiled a list of  9 Christmas games and activities you can do in class to help spruce up your Christmas ESL lesson plans. 

  1. Pin the Nose on Rudolph 

This Christmas twist on the famous birthday party game, ‘Pin the tail on the donkey’, is a popular Christmas game among all ages. All you will need is a piece of red circular paper with blu-tac on the back, a drawing of a reindeer on your whiteboard, and a blindfold. 

Place the blindfold over one of your student’s eyes, turn them around three times, and then they have to try to stick the red paper nose onto the reindeer. 

You are promised endless laughter with this game and every child can have a go. Students can practice their vocabulary on directions (such as; to the left/right, up/down, stop, keep going) as they instruct their classmates where they should stick the nose.

  1. Christmas Bingo 

Bingo is always a popular game to test your students’ listening skills and to help reinforce the Christmas vocabulary they’ve learned in past lessons. You can use free websites such as myfreebingocards to create Bingo cards for your themed lesson. 

Christmas Bingo can be played with any age range or level because you can change the vocabulary or pictures you use depending on the vocabulary they have learned in class. 

  1. The snowball relay race

This easy and fun relay race will develop your students’ teamwork skills and cause a bit of excitement in the classroom. 

All you need is cotton wool balls and a spoon for each team. To play you must divide your class into 2 teams. Give a student from each team a spoon with a cotton wool ball while the rest of their team will line up behind them. The aim of the game is to have each team member run to the top of the classroom and back to their team without dropping the cotton ball off their spoon. Once they do this, they will pass the spoon and the cotton ball onto the next person in line from their team and sit down at the back of their team’s line. The first group to have had every member of their team run and sit down on the ground wins the race. 

Top Tip: To make the relay race more competitive, add in a rule that says if a cotton ball falls off the spoon mid-race, the runner has to go back to the starting line and start their run again. 

  1. The Stocking relay race

Alternatively, you can play the Christmas stocking relay race. This time you will be playing with candy. Each student is given a spoon and a piece of candy to balance on their spoon. At the other end of the classroom, hangs two stockings, the first team to complete the relay race and  get all their candy into their Christmas stocking gets to eat their candy and the other team’s candy too.

  1. Christmas Pictionary

Not only will this Christmas version of Pictionary help you discover the budding Picassos in your class, but it is a fun way to review the Christmas vocabulary that you have taught in a previous lesson.

To begin the game, split the class into two groups, then write different Christmas words onto pieces of paper and pop them in a stocking or bowl. One member of each team will pick out a piece of paper, then they will have to draw a picture on the whiteboard of their chosen word. 

Pick which team goes first, then put 45 seconds on the clock for the student with the piece of paper to draw the image of the word on the board. It could be a picture of a candy cane or Mrs. Claus or a Christmas wreath, either way, if the drawer’s team is unable to guess what the correct word is, then the opposing team can guess what the mystery word is to steal the point. Keep playing the game until all the pieces of paper have been used. The team with the highest number of correct guesses wins!

  1. Santa says!

This Christmas version of TEFL teachers’ favourite game; Simon says, follows the exact same format, instead you swap the word ‘Santa’ in for ‘Simon’. Students must do every action that ‘Santa says’ and they can only stop when Santa says, ‘Stop’ if they stop or change action without Santa saying so then they are out of the game. This ESL Christmas game is an excellent way to develop your students’ comprehension and listening skills in English.

Use actions such as jump, dance, sing, sit down, stand up, clap your hands, turn around, and do a star jump, etc. 

  1. Sing Christmas Carols

‘Rudoplh the Red Nose Reindeer’, ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’, and ‘Jingle Bells’, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the endless amount of Christmas songs you could include in one of your ESL Christmas lesson plans. Teaching the English language through song is not only fun, but it has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to help children retain new vocabulary. Who doesn’t love singing (and dreaming) about ‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire’? 

Starting off each class during the holiday season with a Christmas song will ensure your students are in the Christmas spirit and excited for class. So make sure to create your very own chorus of carol singers by teaching them some Christmas classics, and if you’re feeling brave, give your kids some instruments such as bells or tambourines to accompany their beautiful voices. 

  1. Musical chairs

The beauty of Christmas music is that it can be used to not only improve your students’ pronunciation, speaking, and listening skills, but it can also be used for fun games like Musical Chairs and Freeze. 

The aim of Musical Chairs is to be sitting on a chair once the music stops, if you don’t have a chair to sit on then you are out of the game. To play, put your students’ chairs in the center of the room, bar one. There must always be one less chair for the number of children playing the game. Once the music begins, they must dance around the chairs in a circle, once it stops they must find a chair to sit on, the student left without a chair is out of the game. Take away a chair after every round of dancing, repeat this on until there is only one chair and player left in the game. 

  1. Freeze

This fun and easy dancing game is suitable for all ages, especially your youngest students. The format is simple: when the music is playing, the students must dance but once the music stops, they must stop dancing and stay still, as if they are a ‘frozen statue’. If they break their ‘frozen’ like stance by wobbling or moving then they are out of the game. This carries on until you have one person left dancing.

There you have it, 9 easy and fun ESL Christmas games and activities to bring to your English lessons over the month of December.

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