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Christmas Stocking Relay

This is just like an egg and spoon race, but Christmas themed.

Before class, prepare one bowl, one spoon and one Christmas stocking per team, as well as at least one candy per student and a few extras just in case.

To play the game, students must use the spoon to pick up a candy from the bowl, carry it across the classroom, and put it in their team’s Christmas stocking. The first team to have every student successfully put the candy in the stocking is the winner.

For fun, you can also have the students use chopsticks instead of spoons to pick up the candy.

As a variation, you can have one team sing or recite a lesson while the other team is filling the stocking. Then both teams switch, and whichever team puts more candy in their stocking is the winner. I’d award both teams their own stocking, plus the winner gets the leftovers in the bowl.

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Human Christmas Banner

A fun Christmas spelling game!

Before class, cut out construction-paper letters to spell out a Christmas phrase or message (Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, Happy New Year, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, etc.).

To play, give each student a letter (or two), then have them line up to spell out their Christmas message. Take a picture of the finished product to send to their parents!

Variation A: Make two sets of letters, and have two teams race to spell out their message.

Variation B: Make two sets of different letters, assign two students a phrase each, and have them figure out who can help them spell it.

Variation C: Hide the letters around the classroom, and have students look for them before spelling the phrase.

Variation D: Hand each student a piece of paper, and assign each student a letter to write and illustrate beautifully. When they’re finished, have them make the sentence and pose for a picture.

 

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Paper Chain Sentence Making

This is a fun way to make your Christmas activities educational!

Before class, prepare strips of paper for making paper chains. On each strip, write a word. Bring several spare strips of paper to replace any that get ripped or damaged. Also, bring glue sticks or staplers to class.

Divide the students into groups of two or three, although you could have bigger groups if you don’t want to prepare so many strips of paper. Each group receives about 20 strips of paper, and has to put the words on them into grammatically correct sentences. When they’ve made a sentence, they glue or staple the strips of paper into rings and string them together in order, to make a paper chain. You can give prizes for the longest chains, the most sentences, the most creative sentences, and the prettiest chains. Use the paper chains to decorate the classroom when you’re done!

Some sentence ideas:

  • The reindeer is on the roof.
  • My stocking is in front of the fireplace.
  • I want a big, expensive present from my parents for Christmas.
  • Every year I eat lots of delicious chocolate Christmas cookies.

Pass the Present

This is a fun Christmas party activity.

Before class, prepare a small present – something from the dollar store – and wrap it in a whole bunch of layers of paper. Between each layer, place one (wrapped) candy. Make sure there are enough layers so that every student gets to unwrap the present.

During class, have the first student answer a question, then give him or her the present and have the student unwrap the first layer. Then the student asks a second student a question and pass the present. Students continue asking questions and unwrapping layers of paper until the last student gets the real prize in the middle!

Decorate the Tree

This is my game of the week in all my classes – a silly game to get them started on the Christmas spirit so we can plan our Christmas party for next week.

To prepare for the game, I took two dozen Christmas ornaments and glued or taped magnets to them. At the beginning of class, I drew two equal-sized Christmas trees on the white board, and prepared two sticky balls (with flashing lights inside, because I like sparkling lights).

To play the game, two students rock-paper-scissors (paper-scissors-stone) – loser asks the winner a review question. Then each student throws the sticky ball at the tree. Wherever on the tree the sticky ball hits, the teacher places an ornament. Once everyone has had a turn, or once one team runs out of ornaments, the game is over and the team with the best-decorated Christmas tree is the winner.

I’ve also got half a dozen variations on the game – if you have a classroom of your own, rather than ten different classrooms like I do, you could use felt trees, a velcro sticky ball, and felt or velcro decorations to make a longer-term display, playing by the same rules. Kids can wander up and move decorations around at will, which might make for chaos or break-time entertainment.

For a review game, teams can take turns throwing balls at the tree while the other team is reading or reciting material. The team with the most ornaments on the tree is the winner, and the losing team sings a Christmas carol as punishment.

For a Christmas party game, one team can sing a Christmas carol while the other team throws sticky balls at the tree. Then the teams switch.

For a ridiculously crazy party game, play hot potato by passing two or three sticky balls while singing along to Christmas carols. Whenever you stop the music, whoever’s holding a ball has to throw it at their team’s tree as fast as possible.

If you don’t want to go to the bother of preparing ornaments, you can draw them on the tree before the game, and have students race to undecorate the tree by erasing every ornament they hit with the sticky ball.

If you have more students than decorations, you can have the students throw left-handed (non-dominant-handed) or roll a dice to determine what silly way to throw (blindfolded, on one leg, over one shoulder, etc.) so as to limit the number of balls that actually hit the tree.

I didn’t do this, but it might be fun to decorate the tree with garlands as well as ornaments – each kid throws twice, and the garland’s two ends go wherever the sticky balls hit.

You can also do this game pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey-style, with kids taking turns being blindfolded, trying to place ornaments on the tree.

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Make A Question

This is a great game for beginners just learning the grammar of how to ask questions, or for intermediate students to review question-making. Before class, prepare several sets of cards with words on them. I make about one set per four to six students, with twelve cards per set.

  • who
  • what
  • is
  • can
  • Sandy (or someone’s name)
  • holding
  • eating
  • hold
  • eat
  • a
  • hamburger
  • ball

Each team gets a blank sheet of paper and one set of cards. On the board, draw a picture of a person (Sandy, in my case) holding a ball in one hand and a hamburger (with a bite out of it) in the other hand. Give the students an example question – “Is Sandy eating a ball?” and have them make it by rearranging their word cards, and then write it on their paper. Now challenge them to make as many questions as possible from their cards.

In beginner classes, I have each team raise their hands whenever they have a completed question, and I check it for grammar before they write it down. I keep track of how many questions each team has by awarding stars or stickers for each question made.

In intermediate classes, teams write down questions as quickly as possible without consulting me. Then each team reads out their questions to the class, and we discuss whether the grammar is correct so they can earn a point. Other teams can correct any grammar mistakes to “steal” the points for the question. This takes much more time than the beginners’ way, but is more educational, I think.

I’ve also used this game in advanced classes, with more complicated pictures. At that level, the students don’t need any vocabulary cards to rearrange and can make up questions quite well on their own. You’ll get much more creative questions (Why doesn’t Sandy seem to like his hamburger? Does he like ice cream better?) but a lot more grammar mistakes.

Using the twelve word cards above, my students have made at least 20 grammatically correct, logical questions, but there are a lot more if you accept obscure questions such as “Who is eating Sandy?” or “What is a ball?” My best class got 68 unique questions, which I’ll leave as a comment.

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Beginners’ Halloween Party

This is not a game, but a lesson plan idea for a Halloween party for a young (6 to 10 years old) class that doesn’t read or write yet – this could be for kindergarten or elementary school students. The objective is to have a variety of types of games, including opportunities for students to practice what they’ve learned and pick up a few new Halloween-related words. I’m also trying to strike a balance between active games and quieter games. My policy is to keep games short and sweet – in beginners’ classes I don’t spend more than 10 minutes on any activity.

  1. Candy Guessing Game – 10 minutes. Award a prize for the winning guess, and hand out one or two pieces of candy per student. The rest can be used as prizes for games during the party.
  2. Pin the Face on the Pumpkin – 10 minutes. Now the kids are sugared up, give them a chance to giggle and get dizzy.
  3. Halloween Concentration – 10 minutes. Take a minute to slow down with concentration – you may have to teach them the new words for ghosts, owls, bats, and zombies.
  4. Candy and Spoon Race – 10 minutes. Another opportunity to get goofy in a traditional fall carnival game. (Straw Relay Race works just as well, too.)
  5. Halloween Costume Fashion Show – 10 minutes. Let the students show off their costumes in front of the class. Award prizes for the funniest, cutest, and best costumes. (I put this toward the end of the program so there won’t be upset kids all class if they lose.)
  6. Trick-Or-Treating – 10 minutes. Students knock on the doors of other classrooms asking for candy!

If you have spare time or need to replace a game, Witch Hat Ring Toss and Monster Golf are good active filler games. If your class is going crazy and you need to calm them down, have a dozen copies of an “I Spy”-type find-a-picture game on hand to dampen their spirits without ruining all the fun – they can work in groups to find the items you name, and be awarded prizes for finding them quickly.