Last December ,with a 2nd countrywide lockdown in place, each and every citizen had been quarantined within the four walls of their home, since mid-November. As teachers, it had become not only our duty but also our responsibility towards to our students to follow it diligently, as it is a much-needed step to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Spending most of their time indoors had increased the time my students spent with our family members. Ever since, this has reinstated the fact that it is only your family which is beside you through thick and thin. You have got once in a lifetime opportunity to spend so many days altogether with your family, and it is better to not waste them.
The most essential of all, being in a lockdown has made us realize the importance of the freedom we all had and the importance of the most precious gift of all, a gift that money can’t buy: family!
After all, there’s no point in suffering through a global crisis if we don’t learn something from it. “No challenge, no change,”
What I actually taught my students ,during our December webex lessons, was the importance of being present!
This is the summary of the main ideas we talked about ,during our online lessons.
“Want to know one Christmas gift that everyone will really love this year? Having your full, devoted attention at all your holiday gatherings.
This Christmas season, put in the extra effort and do your best to be fully present when around your family and friends. I promise you it will be much more enjoyable for everyone (including yourself).
Give the gift of your sincere, undivided attention. Listen, really listen, without thinking about how you’ll respond; listen with the intention to understand, because people need to be heard: sometimes that’s all they need.
Your sincere presence, your authenticity, is one of the best gifts you can give; your offering is to be with your nearest and dearest.
Let others know how grateful you are for their presence in your life. Say, “thank you” and “I appreciate you” and “I love you.” It’s one of the greatest gifts.”
“For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi
THE LESSON PLAN STEPS
I decided to use one of my favourite wordcloud web tools in order to have all my students to share their ideas about which gifts ” only you can give” !
Sharing my screen and my most favourite virtual whiteboard app, I presented them with the topic I wanted them to brainstorm about: Christmas gift ideas for kids.
The next step was to have them work in groups, using the webex breakout rooms feature, to discuss their ideas.
They had to share all those ideas with the whole class, afterwards.
Finally, I shared my own idea about which are the three best gifts we can give to others!
Time: People always say time is money, but it doesn’t have to be. Time is one of the biggest and inexpensive gifts you can give yourself and others. Giving yourself the gift of free time can truly help your perspective in life.
Love: The gift of love, shouldn’t really need much explanation. Unfortunately, many celebrated Christmas and New Year’s without their loved ones this year. We should never forget to tell those people we do care about, that we love them, tomorrow is never promised.
Attention:There’s no doubt, Christmas will always be associated with presents; however,we should never underestimate the importance of spending a little extra time with someone, loving others. Giving, is better than receiving. Some of the best gifts we can give, can’t be wrapped as they come from the heart.
One Dad, planning on working away for Christmas, takes his daughter’s letter for Santa with him to post. Unfortunately, he misses the ‘post boat’ and a series of mishaps means that he ultimately ends up delivering the letter to The North Pole himself.
He receives a lift home and is surprised by the contents of the letter when he gets there.
Few more teaching ideas you can also use, especially with older students
Discuss and share ideas for some gifts ‘only you can give’ this Christmas.
Write diary entries in role of the girl.
Create an inner monologue for the father.
Describe the epic journey and the sights he sees on his travels.
Recount the journey in the first person.
Informal letter -if you wish. I asked them to write their letters to Santa, asking for …GIFTS THEY CAN ONLY GIVE!
Schools ,all over the World, have made many changes to keep students and teachers safe during the school year, and class Halloween celebrations have seen changes too.
All teachers, have to follow social distancing and other COVID protocols, every day.
Halloween was very different , in my classes,this year,as well.
With social distancing in place , many of the games and activities we love doing at Halloween were simply not possible this year.
As such, it has been quite difficult for me as a teacher ,to come up with fun Halloween games to do while safely social distancing.
Keep Your Distance
Ηere’s my list of fun social distancing Halloween games and activities that our students can safely do while keeping their distance from others. They worked in my class. I do hope, they will work in yours, as well.
What is it about Halloween that I love so much ? It’s its FUN element, I guess!
Therefore, I decided to try and bring some Halloween spirit to my class this weird year.
I attempted to teach my students Halloween themed lessons, and to elicit some excitement from them, following the protocols. I feel that we, at least, paid Halloween a pretty good tribute, against all odds.
A few of my favourite non-contact Halloween active gamesand activities
The first day I started thinking about how to teach about Halloween safely, for both my students and me, I ran into this highly inspiring English Teacher’s video, on Facebook! I decided to give it a try and see if it worked with my very young learners ! Guess what: it did!! We just loved it!
If you’re looking for a spooky activity to do with your students this HalloweenHere’s an idea…Make your own Mini Puppet Theatre (out of a cereal box) and sing-along with 6 monster stick puppets. Watch the video to know more!
Another great game I ran into and decided to use in my classes ,both synchronously and asynchronously, is this one, below. I found even more social distancing teaching ideas for Halloween party games to try with my classes, in this amazing site.
Draw A Monster Game
That was a great game to play at Halloween while social distancing. In that game, the kids drew a monster.
To play, I asked each student to grab a piece of paper and something to draw with and then played the video. In the video, the students read a description of a monster. After reading the description, they tried to draw what they thought the monster looked like based on that description.
Once students finished their drawing, I/they played the video to see what the monster looked like.
My students, really loved this kind of activity, especially when their monster drawings looked very similar to the monster in the video. I asked them to work on this video at home, using our asynchronous e-me hive platform but you can follow the same steps, in a school class.
This activity can be easily done at Halloween while social distancing as the students can stay in their seats while they draw their monster, and do not need to be close to or share resources with others.
This next social distancing Halloween game is a Halloween themed BINGO game.
To play, the students were asked to create a Halloween vocabulary Bingo card, in their notebooks, using any 9 Halloween vocabualry words/pictures they wished.
Next, I called out one of the Halloween words, in our vocabulary list, for example ‘ghost’. Then, the students should check their bingo card. If the ghost word/picture is on their card, then they had to cross that Halloween word/picture out.
Then, I called out another Halloween word and again students should check if that word was in their card and if it was, they should cross it out, again. The first student who crossed out all their Halloween words/pictures, was the winner.
Halloween Costume Fashion Show
This social distancing Halloween activity idea is a great way to let kids strut their stuff and show off their fun and scary Halloween costumes.
I always set up an area to be your ‘Halloween catwalk’ and then invite students one by one to walk down the catwalk and show off their great Halloween costumes.
This year, I did that with my 4th graders ,after I had sent them a Halloween vocabulary quizlet and thesetwo relevant songs/videos, in our asynchronous class, first!
I also asked them to visit this , as well as that Thinglink walls , before they decided about what to dress up ,in our school classroom.
To make it feel even more like a fashion show, I snapped some pictures of them in their costumes and shared them with the students’ parents, in our asynchronous class!
Halloween Word Search
I am sure that we all have used word search worksheets ,to get our kids familiar with some Halloween vocabulary. But this online Halloween activity also has the added benefit of being perfectly safe to do while keeping a safe distance from others.
Another cool web tool , which I personally used to create my own word search activities was Liveworksheets. A free teaching web tool, you will love!
Halloween Charades Game
With a little preparation, this classic party game can be turned into a safe social distancing Halloween game.
If you’re not familiar with charades, in this game one person would choose a card -or to make sure this Halloween game can be played while safely social distancing,the teacher shows him/her a card- and then try to act out what is on the card without using any words or sounds.
To make it into a Halloween game, I simply used cards with Halloween related things on them. For example,I wrote/drew Halloween words (ghost, witch, broomstick, etc), Halloween songs (The Monster Mash, etc) or Halloween Movies (Night of The Living Dead, etc). It’s diffrent ,for each different age/level we teach.
I ensured the student acting out the word and the students guessing the word were all at a safe distance.
Usually, these quizzes would be played in pairs or small teams, but seen as that is not possible while social distancing, these quizzes can be played individually, both at home asynchronously ,or in class, using a projector and working in teams.
I personally create my own quizzes, such as this one, on a favourite web tool which is similar to Kahoot, called Quizziz.
Students, love it!
I thought that, this classic classroom game could be easily adapted so my students could play while social distancing.
This time, I decided to use my Halloween flashcards, to play this game.
I asked one student to come to front of the class and stand / sit at a safe distance from other students. Then standing behind the student I showed the rest of the class a flashcard.
Next, the students tried to describe the word on the flashcard without saying the word, and the student at the front of the class should guess what it was. Super fun!
We played apple bobbing and dangling donuts
Apple bobbing – I gave each student their own apple in their own bowl of water, or asked them to hold their own apple tied onto a string and challenged them to take a bite without touching it.I made it a race and gave the winner a prize.
Dangling donuts – Each student held their own donut tied onto a string. They took it in turns to dangle a donut for each other. The challenge was to eat it with no hands, as fast as possible.
Detail 1: there was spooky music playing ,in the background!
Detail 2: My students ,had to watch a couple of videos similar to this one, in our asynchronous class, when at home, before they attended our school class.
In our asynchronous “e-me hive“, my students had the chance to watch several videos, such as this one, or this one, follow the directions there and make their favourite crafts and decorations to bring back to class, the following day.
I decided to ask my amazing 4th graders to watch a video with instructions about how to make paper ghosts using their footprints, at home, and make them ,either themselves or with their parents’ help. Then, they were asked to write about them and decorate their classroom bulletin board with them, after they had presented them in class, of course! Cute!
Let’s make spooky food
What better time to indulge in some jaw-droppingly tasty sweets, than Halloween time?
First, I posted a few delicious Halloween treats ideas, to our asynchronous class and asked my students to watch and prepare their favourite treats, bring them to school and share them, in our Halloween party ! Yummy!
A pumpkin carving contest
I suggest that you treat everyone in the class to their very own pumpkin and see who can come up with the best design. Ι have come to the conclusion that a safe way to get little kids involved is to post a video with instructions in an asynchronous teaching platform and tell them to ask their parents to do the cutting for them, first. Then let them scoop out the insides with a spoon. This how to carve a pumpkin beginners’ guide is a great place to start. This is where we started, in our school classroom.
Another nice video, which I posted in our asynchronous hive, to help my older students curve their pumpkins at home, was this one. For my younger learners, I used this video.
I hope, you will like them as much as we did!
Have a ‘scary’ movie night, at home-or a scary movie…. day, at school
At first, I told them that, during Halloween nights, the people who celebrate it take some tasty Halloween treats and wear their Halloween costumes or some cool Halloween PJs like these glow-in-the-dark skeleton ones.
Then, I asked them to watch the short film extracts ,which I had created, using one of my most favourite web teaching tools: edpuzzle, asynchronously, together with their families.
I even offered them a choice of several other Halloween themed movies, to watch at home, using Quizlet.
Make a spooky music playlist
From Michael Jackson’s Thriller to the Ghostbusters theme tune, I decided to have lots of class fun compiling a spooky playlist to listen to, together with my students. I thought it was safe, to post the lyrics to our asynchronous class first and later,with the use of a projector, have a Halloween karaoke competition, in the school classroom ! It was so much fun! Although, it didn’t last long ,since our teaching hours last only about 40 minutes ! My students were given the opportunity to sing the songs again and again, at home, too, thanks, to our asynchronous class platform posts.
For my very young learners, I did the very same thing , using their favourite Halloween songs, such as this one , this one or even this one!
We all danced and sang happily- in safe distances, of course!
You don’t have to read a book on the page to write a story report. This Halloween, instead of having my students listen to an audiobook or story, I decided to have my wicked witch puppet, Amelia present herself to the class!
It was an active listening activity, using puppetry! I asked them to keep notes, while listening.
Then I had them write a story report based on what they heard, or give a summary of the story to our asynchronous class, in a padlet presentation.
I have been the class Christmas lessons planner for many-many years. We have games, crafts, fun language activities, and an absolute blast with my students. I also always have printable games on hand, just in case I need to fill some time. Usually, though, we end up with way more fun than there is time for.
This year, I used most of the activities I have already written about, in older posts, and added few new ones…
In this post,I just wish to share some pictures, which prove how much fun we had, while learning new things about Christmas and practicing our English , at the same time!
For more details about most of them, please, feel free to read my earlier relevant blog posts, here , here or here.
This year, we made beautiful 3D crafts with my little ones, learning the Christmas vocabulary a, at the same time.
We played lots of fun games, with all classes!
We sang Christmas songs!
We even sang old-time-classic songs such as “The rainbow song”, using Christmas ornaments!!
We made Advent calendars!
We decorated our special Christmas trees!
We wrote Santa letters and met one of his best friends!
Here are some cool post-holiday classroom activities I have come across online and I have decided to use in my class next week!
I hope, they’ll work!
POST-HOLIDAY CLASS ACTIVITIES
We should try to avoid diving right into the schoolwork after break. Instead, I think we should make the adjustment a little bit easier by welcoming students back with fun activities that incorporate what they did over their holiday vacations.
Let’s get our students back on track and motivated to learn once again.
Create a Holiday Memory Book
Have students capture their best holiday moments in a memory book. Students will have more than enough to share, and a memory book is a great way to do that. Ask students to draw or bring in a picture of their favorite holiday outing or gift. Then ask students to write a few sentences about it. Once students have completed their memory book page, have them share it with the class or bind them all together to make a class book.
Make New Year Resolutions
Returning from holiday break is the perfect time to teach students how to reflect upon the past year and to make positive changes for the new year. Tell students that the new year means a fresh start and they can make promises to themselves that are positive and realistic. As a class, brainstorm a few resolutions together. Give them the following prompts to get started.
In 2015 I want to learn …
In 2015 I want to get better at …
My goal(s) for 2017 are …
Have a Show and Tell
As soon as students enter the classroom after winter break, they inundate you (and each other) with stories about what every student received from Santa, or all of the fun places that they went while on break. What’s a better way to share all of their experiences and new toys then to bring something in for a little old show and tell? For a different spin on the traditional activity, try having students guess who brought what item in.
Creative Writing Prompts
A creative and calm activity to get your energetic students back into the grind is to have them write about what they did and received over break. Students can get the opportunity to discuss their adventures in a fun writing piece. For instance, ask students to write about the best gift they gave and what made it so special, or describe their family’s holiday traditions in detail. Here are a few more creative writing prompts.
What are you most grateful for this holiday season?
What was your favorite holiday food that you had over break?
Who was the person you spent the most time with and why? What did you do with them?
Write about a place that you went over the Christmas break.
Write about something you did with your family over Christmas break.
Play a Fun Game
Welcome your students back to school with a few fun games! Try to avoid piling on the schoolwork right away and instead try playing a few fun games to ease students back into the routine. Review games are a great choice for easing students back in. Try games like the “Hot Seat” where one student faces away from the board and chooses three people to give them clues about what is written on the board behind them. Another fun game is “Ping Pong,” where students are divided into teams of two and the team that gets the answer correct gets to throw a ping pong ball into a one of three cups to get a prize for their team. Prizes are things like a homework free pass or lunch in the classroom.
Host a Party?
Before you must get back to all the school chaos and your crazy school day routine, kick off the first day or two back to school with a party! Invite the classroom next to yours over for some cookies and hot chocolate. Allow students to share their holiday break stories over a warm cup of cocoa! Students will love the ease and flow of a relaxing day back to school.
Christmas break was a time for rest and relaxation, so it’s important to remember to ease students back into the school routine slowly and carefully. This will ensure that everyone will be motivated and ready to learn in no time.
This year , I decided to have some April Fool’s Day fun in class !I celebrated April Fools’ Day with several well chosen tricks, that kept my students giggling ,all day long.
I looked for ideas on line and I tried the ones below, with huge success, with 4 different classes. ( 2nd-6th graders)
With my 2nd graders, whom I teach Art, I just did the following ( which reaaaly worked!): I told them that we were all going on a field trip to someplace fun, at the end of the day. I asked them to use their imagination and DRAW that place and finally see if they were right! I promised lollipops, to the ones who might guess right! Their drawings were fantastic! Most of them drew the nearby park or the nearest burger house – When it got to be almost the end of the day,I told them that the ‘fun’ place was actually their… homes! Zing!
With my 3rd graders, I decided to begin the lesson of the day, with my mouth moving but, no sound coming out !! That REALLY freaked them out!! The funniest thing was that, most of them could actually read my lips and respond to what I asked them to do or say, naturally!!
With my 4th graders, I decided to write a special ” Truths and Lies about my English Teacher ” worksheet and have them work in groups, to figure out how much information was true and suggest alternatives for points which they considered as …lies!
With my 5th and 6th graders, I used two hilarious activities I had found on www.busyteacher.org !
A grammar-of-the-day worksheet went out to the class, and in minutes, we were all dumbfounded. The questions were incomprehensible, written in complete gibberish. I went along with the joke. They had 20 minutes to finish it, and it was going to be worth a substantial amount of points. The different tasks, were also fun!
eg Draw and write about your Teacher’s life in the future or write about your next week’s plans on the Moon!
I don’t remember how long the gag lasted exactly, but I do remember all of them sitting there, mouths agape, wondering if the assignment was serious. Then, once they had all thrown their hands up, I let them in on the joke: “April Fool’s!”
The second worksheet, was a TEST! The test was worth…100 points! It was a test to see how well they could follow instructions! If they could not finish the test in time, they would lose ..300 points! They only had ..10 minutes to finish the Test! That freaked them out!
Some task examples: Write your name backwards 5 times, Write the names of ten colors, Tap the person sitting closest to you 5 times on the right shoulder etc
April Fool’s Day is the perfect time to play some light-hearted pranks on our friends, family, and co-workers; and if you’re a teacher, pulling an unexpected fast one on your students can be entertaining — and memorable — for everyone. So if you’re hoping to bring a humor lesson into the classroom, this is the right day to do it! Enjoy! We did!
Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” in French. It is a celebration full of feasting and merriment just before Lent is ushered in for the 40 days of “self denial” leading up to Easter. Mardi Gras is the time to march in parades, eat treats, sing and dance, and generally celebrate good times.
This is a great opportunity to have a fabulous party for our students in the English class, too!
Here are some game ideas, I use in my class…..
We play classic children’s games with a Mardi Gras twist, such as musical chairs.
I set up chairs in a tight circle, with the seats facing outward. We should have one less chair than you have children participating. I place a Mardi Gras mask underneath each chair. I play some Latin music. When the music starts, the kids must walk around the chairs. When the music stops, they must quickly find a seat and put the masks to their faces. The child who doesn’t have a seat is out. I take away another chair for the next round. The game continues in the same manner until only two kids are battling over one chair.
For a version of “Simon Says,” have the kids play “Mardi Gras King or Queen Says.”
The leader might say, “Mardi Gras Queen says march in place,” and the kids must follow. However, if the leader gives a command and doesn’t say “Mardi Gras Queen says,” the kids are not to follow the command. Anyone who does is out.
Scavenger Hunt Games
I sometimes, scatter the Mardi Gras bead or Pasta (!) necklaces my students have made at home, following written instructions, all over the classroom area for the kids to find and put around their necks. The person with the most necklaces , wins.
I also, hide a special Mardi Gras necklace, which an American friend who had been in New Orleans, sent me some years ago…. The child who finds that necklace ,earns a special prize.
This year, we had a scavenger hunt with carnival masks and other party stuff. I put them all in a…treasure box. I gave the kids a clue each time ,as to the location of the next clue card. I put the children in pairs to figure the clues to find the Treasure Box. The winners are the first children to bring back all the clue cards, in order.
I ask the students, to come to the lesson dressed in their best or most creative Mardi Gras gear. The outfits can be anything with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold, or not….For example, some of my students, this year have decided to improvise and wear their own clothes, upside down!!. Students, vote for the best costume. They cannot vote for themselves. The most fun thing is, that I have the students do a …Catwalk Mardi Gras Best Costume competition! We have to describe what students who take part are wearing , before we vote! Great order of adjectives, practice!
For a mask contest, I give each of my younger students, an undecorated paper Mardi Gras mask. The children must decorate their masks using any art and craft items you have on hand such as glitter, paint, feathers and stickers. Each child will get to stand up and present her mask to the group. The children then vote — by secret ballot — for their favorite mask.
With my very young learners, we played ” Carnival dictation ” on the board.
1.I draw about 6-8 masks on the one side of the board and the same number of Masks on the other.
2.Assign the kids to either Carnival King or Carnival Queen teams
3.I ask a player from each team in turns, to come to the board and write a word they are given, on one of their team Masks.
4. If they are correct they move to the next ,mask towards the finish.
5.If one student is not correct, their team miss a turn. If both players are not correct, the next two players proceed!
We also did an “Orange dance” with Carnival music! A dance which requires collaboration between the partners and is so much fun!!
Finally, we love playing “ Mardi Gras whispers“!
Similar to ” Chinese Whispers” , but this time, we use Mardi Gras and Carnival vocabulary! It’s a fun way to revise new words! I always ask the last person in the row, to come and WRITE the word on the board! This way, we practice spelling, too! They get a point for their team if they get it right!
Well, every last week before our Christmas school break, we ALWAYS leave the course books aside and start….enjoying Christmas !
Actually, it all starts much earlier…..about a month before Christmas, I put up our Advent calendars, full of surprises inside…! This is when all the fun starts! We continue with our 4th graders short Christmas plays rehearsals and our artistic Christmas cards ( to be offered to our Christmas show guests ) and we conclude with the Christmas games and activities week!!
I’m sharing some NEW ideas and games that have really worked with my students, this year!
An Alternative Advent calendar
I just love Advent calendars and I use different ones, each year in class! This year, we had an alternative advent calendar, where we all had to do an act of kindness, each day. I found the idea on http://www.muminthemadhouse.com/
Kindness can cost nothing and I want to teach my students to be kinder than they need to be and feel that focusing on acts of kindness during Advent , will be a great learning experience and also spread some joy.
Our kindness mission statement:
Spread the word – encourage other people to join in and become happiness heroes
Have fun and enjoy making other people happy
To be kinder than you need to be
I loved this idea! We should remind kids that, it’s more about the giving than the receiving. It is so easy to lose track of it in all the dazzle and ads and gifts and lights outside. It all becomes about the gifts and not the meaning and spirit of the holiday.
I used an old Advent calendar I had at home, but you can also use the classroom wall, as the ideal place to display the Advent trees. You can simply blue tac’d them to the wall.This would work well on any surface and be topped with a lovely star decoration.
Another idea is a hanging Advent Calendar . You can use small pegs, but strung them on to cord and then hung the trees on the wall.
Some acts of kindness ideas for your own Advent Calendar!
Donate a coat or jumper to charity (leaving a happy note in the pocket)
Donate to the local food bank
Make christmas cards for your neighbours
Leave change in the vending machine
Sort through your toys and donate any that you no longer play with to charity or your local church
Leave chalk messages around where you live
Sharpen all the pencils in the classroom at breaktime
Write a letter to your sibling telling them why you love them
Leave a beautiful homemade bookmark in your library book and give one to the Librarian
Leave the pound in the shopping trolley next time you go to the supermarket
Deliver cookies to your neighbours
Tidy your bedroom
Write a note and mail them to the houses with great christmas lights saying thank you for lighting up their house for you to see
Sit next to someone you normally don’t at the lunch table and be nice to them
Be a holiday helper – volunteer to deliver local christmas cards
Make a bird feeder
Send a care package to someone in the military
Find three of your toys to give to the local childrens hospital
Pass on some of your books to friends
Give a lottery ticket to a stranger
Donate books to your school library
Leave out water for the birds
Write thank you cards for your teacher, coach, Cubs leader or people that have influenced you in a positive way
Clean up the area where you live by picking up litter.Make sure you wear gloves and do it with an adult.
Help round the house without being asked to
Donate pet food to a local shelter
Put together a shoebox for your local church
Write a thank you note for the bin collectors and post person
Wash your parents car
Give a homeless person a blanket
Deice your neighbours windshields in the morning
Take everyone in your class a candy cane or cookie
Take poinsettias to your nearest nursing home
Make a christmas card for the school receptionist
Offer to help an elderly friend or neighbour with their christmas decorations
Make christmas flowers for the reception at school
Make a thank you card for the school crossing staff
Cook dinner for your family
Offer to pack the shopping bags of the person in front of you and behind you at the supermarket
Invite a new friend for a play date or out to play
Walk someone elses dog
Give out a complement
Give out free hugs today
Hold the door open for people all day
Smile all day
Let someone go in front of you in a queue
Introduce yourself to someone new at school and chat with them
Ring an elderly relative and have a nice chat to them
My super power
I ask my student to imagine that , from 1/1/201…, all of them possess a super power that no one else knows about. The reason they were given these powers is so that they can use them to become better people and change the World!
I ask them to create the superhero version of themselves and explain why this superpower is important and what is the thing they can change about themselves or the World!
New Year acrostic poem
Each student should refer to something they would like to achieve/change/have or not have for this year.
eg This year I’d like to have
2 large pieces of chocolate cake every day
0 worries and problems
1 big brown bookcase
6 months of vacation
I ask my students to create their infographics about their hopes or ambitions. Found the idea on http://www.easel.ly
I ask them to write down 3 new things they would like to try this year and test whether their wishes ill come true afterwards…A great warming-up, too.
Year in review
This is a nice activity for older students. I ask them to write short paragraphs about the things that made last year special/difficult/challenging for them. It can be done with or without a photos collage.
My New Year message to the world
I ask them to imagine that, their words of hope and prayers for the New Year ,might reach the troubled young people either here or in distant war-torn countries.
Then I write this question on the board:
What would your message say, and to whom would you send it?
The elf poem
This is an amazing activity which I learned about in one of the Tesol Macedonia/Thrace/Northern Greece Christmas events, a couple of years ago….I think, the activity was presented to us by Katerina Kyriakidou.
I tell my kids that, they are going to hear a poem twice. After each dictation they have to write down as much as they can remember from the poem.
We can give them any poem.Then, the class dictates the poem back to the teacher.This poem below, was written by Linda Brown.
” I saw an elf, all dressed in green
The cutest elf I’ve ever seen
I said: like your turned-up toes
He wrinkled up his elfin nose
I said: I like your nice green beard
He blushed and smiled
My variation to this activity was to ask them write their own similar poems, as homework!
The plate drawing game
This is one old-time-classic game, we all love!
This year, I could not afford to buy paper plates for all my students, therefore we used A4 sheets of paper to draw on….
Students, place their plates on top of their heads and are given the directions below:
Draw a line for a floor
Draw a Christmas tree . Add decorations of your choice.
Draw a star on top of the tree
Draw a fireplace with a mantel next to the tree
Draw a present under the tree
Draw a stocking hanging from the mantel of the fireplace.Add something IN it, if possible.
Winner: the player with the most points
2 points if the tree touches the floor
2 points if the stocking is touching the mantel
1 point if the star is above the tree
1 point if the star touches the tree
1 point if the fireplace doesn’t touch he tree
1 point if you draw something in the stocking
2 points, if the present is under the tree.
An alternative letter to Santa
I ask the older students to write a letter to Santa asking for a present for someone ELSE!
I begin by bringing a homemade present I received or made for someone.
What makes that present special? Does it reflect the personality of the giver?
I then invite my students to tell about presents they have made for others. Why are such presents so remembered?I even have them ask their parents about special presents they have given and received.
Presents from the Heart
I ask students to think of presents from the heart and tell or write about them ( preferably, on festive paper) starting out like this:
The gift I would most want to have two years from now is………
The gift you most often give to me, maybe without even knowing is…….
If I had only one wish to wish you, I would wish you………….
Thank you for all the gifts you give to me, especially………………………
Story or class discussion starters
Why do you think being an elf is a “toyriffic” job?
With so much work to be done, when do you think Santa’s elves get a chance to celebrate?
How are they getting ready for Christmas?
What would an elf want for Christmas?
What elf jobs would you like to do?
How do you think the workshop and elf jobs will be different in 2020?
I first read about this activity in the ELTNews newspaper , November 2010 issue . It was one of the inspiring ideas shared there, by Akis Davanelos , a Greek teacher trainer and publisher.If you manage to find that issue and read the whole article about how to ” Practice GRAMMAR before Christmas”, on page 10, you’ll be surprised by his amazing ideas!
Akis, suggests that we could use the following songs to practice various grammar points:
Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer
Frosty the Snowman
The Christmas song ( Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…)
Pronunciation points ( Rhyming words)
Frosty the Snowman
Jingle bell rock
Let it snow
Rocking around the Christmas tree
The Christmas song
Away in a Manger
We Three Kings
We can also, ask our students to write their own versions based on well known Xmas tunes.
The twelve days of Christmas
The Christmas song
The Christmas story book game
A game I ..invented this year and my students simply loved! I read them a story about Christmas customs and traditions in other countries. Each time they heard the name of a country, they had to pass a little notebook to the person on their right! The last student, could take it home!They really loved it, and it was the perfect motivator for them , to get focused on the story !
A traditional game with a Christmas twist…
Put the class into two teams.
Give each team a set of cards.
Explain the rules: One person from each team starts. He/she will select a card. on each card is written the name of a song, book or film (with a Christmas link). He/she must then mime what is said on the card to the rest of his/her group. No speaking is allowed.
First, we should mime the category, ie song-open hands around mouth, book- open hands in a book reading pose and projector-like pose for a film.
Also, explain symbols for “little words” eg T shape for “the”, thumb and forehead together for “little word” etc.
When the team guesses the first one, the second person can take a card and so on.
The winners are the first team to mime and guess all their cards correctly.
The “Thank you” game
You need a pen and a piece of paper for each player.
In every turn, each player has to write one line on the piece of paper in their hand, fold it over so that the next player can’t see what has been written and pass it on to the player on their left.
In order, each payer has to write:
The name of the person receiving the letter-someone famous is best.
Thanks for a particular present.
A line describing the present or what is good about it.
A line saying what the present is going to be used for.
A closing sentence.
When you have finished, take turns to read the hilarious results!
What is it about Halloween that I love so much ? It’s its FUN element, I guess….
I decided to try and bring some Halloween spirit to my class this year, too. I attempted to teach my students Halloween themed lessons, and to elicit some excitement from them. I feel that I at least paid Halloween a pretty good tribute.
I have written about our class Halloween activities in a couple of older posts, too. Today, I wish to share some favourite Halloween links with amazing Halloween ESL activities !
Halloween lessons evoke the spirit of the holiday. Whether we teach in an English-speaking country or not, Halloween is a perfect period to have fun while providing learning opportunities for our students.
Halloween lessons are a marvelous way to bridge a few cultural gaps. Most likely, our students have had some type of exposure to Halloween—whether through movies, cartoons or the internet. This is your opportunity to fill any gaps and share a bit of another culture with our students.
Holiday-themed lessons play a vital role in switching up the hum-drum of a normal day’s routine. Holidays offer excellent opportunities for our students to learn new cultural themes and new vocabulary all while having fun.
Eighty-one per cent of adults regret not having learned another language and while of course it’s never too late, children do have the advantage in language learning.The European day of Languages, celebrated on 26 September, is a wonderful opportunity to inspire young people and get them excited about learning languages.
I always make sure we do several activities to celebrate that special day, with all my classes!
I am sharing, what we did, this year!
First, we played a really fun game to learn about 12 European languages in just one teaching hour!!
Our multilingual game!
I gave students a handout with 12 names of European countries, their flags, and four different phrases typed next to each country, in 12 different languages:
How are you?
So and so.
I had them work in small groups of 5-6 students This is a game where a number of chairs one less than the number of players are arranged facing outward with the players standing in a circle just outside of that. The first player,who’s standing, asks the person sitting next to him ” How are you” in one of the languages on the handout. He has to reply by using any of the three phrases above, in the same language!
Students playing and having fun, while learning new languages!
If he decides to reply ” Well”, nothing happens and the standing player asks the same question to the very next student. If he answers ” So and so”, he changes chairs with the student sitting on his left. If he replies “Bad” , all players run around the chairs! Usually, music is played while the players in the circle run in unison around the chairs. When the music stops, each player attempts to sit down in one of the chairs. The player who is left without a chair is the next player to ask ” How are you ” and start the game again.
My students had so much fun playing this game and asked me to play it again and again! The result was that, they finally managed to remember most of the phrases on the handout and use them with confidence during the breaks, as well….
Whole school languages survey
I carried out a survey of languages spoken amongst school community – included staff, pupils and family members. I collected, displayed and interpreted data. I created a display for a prominent location in the school.
An exchange of students’ photos for the European day of languages.
We arranged that exchange , with colleagues from several European countries . We all belong in the same facebook group “Celebrate the European Day of Languages (EDL) 26th of September”
We had two choices:
1.- to send a postcard (homemade) by mail with the greeting “Happy EuropeanDay of Languages “ (in our language) from (name of our school) to (name of a school we are sending to)
2. – to prepare a big poster in our mother tongue: “GREETINGS FROM STUDENTS OF (MY SCHOOL’S NAME) TO STUDENTS OF (YOUR SCHOOL’S NAME AND PLACE WHERE IT IS)”. You can add the logo of EuropeanDay of Languages if you want.
We took a photo of our students holding the poster and sent the photo by email. My students were thrilled to see the name of our school in all the photos-cards we received, in return !!
Creating a poster : ” Write Good morning in another language “
A number of students in our school, speak a foreign language. I thought it would be good to make the poster below, and display it in school!I decided to display it in a long , busy corridor . Students loved adding new words on it, during the breaks!
And…don’t forget: WE ALL SMILE IN THE SAME LANGUAGE!
Every year, we spend one day in Greek schools, to teach students the Olympic values and principles !There is a different topic every year…This time, we dealt with with the meanings of the Olympic values.
To start with , I decided to have a discussion about all the Olympic values in class , before I used certain activities to help kids put theory into practice!
Those meanings we talked about were:
. positive reciprocity
Proud medal holders!
We also mentioned the Meanings of the Paralympic values
Believing in yourself to continue to do the best you can even if things are difficult.Making or arriving at a decision with purpose.
Everyone can be equal and receive the same treatment. This is the quality of being the same in quantity or measure, value or status. Ensuring fairness, equal treatment, opportunities, regardless of religion or race. This should be without:
First, we did some brainstorming about the Olympic ideals.
Brainstorming about the Olympic ideals
Later, we made medals with our favourite Olympic values words written on them , and had to wear them ,all day at school….!
With my older students, I decided to deal with storytelling and classroom theatre.
I used the ” Hare and the Tortoise” Aesop story, to investigate all serious issues: Justice, inequality, power, discrimination, censorship.
We finally acted the story out in class and had much fun doing so!!
Time for a story!
Sharing here, some more ideas about how to deal with the story with older students…..This is the list of tasks , I asked my 6th graders to choose from.
-Can you read / retell the original story of the Tortoise and the Hare?
-Retell the story from Hare’s point of view. Ask a friend to retell the story from Tortoise’s point of view. How are your
stories similar / different?
-Rewrite parts of the story in the form of a playscript (with stage directions).
-Think of captions for some of the illustrations in the book.
-Can you write your own retelling of the ‘Hare and the Tortoise’… or write an alternative version?
Writing stories , using our imagination …
I also thought, it would be nice to have my students do some creative writing , using their imagination and all the ideas and vocabulary, we had talked about in class…Therefore, I handed them this worksheet as homework . Here are some awesome samples of their work !
Some extra inspiring ideas for this special day, I have found on line:
-Read various books on the Olympics
-Have students write a poem about the Olympics
-Have students write a speech about winning the gold medal.
-If I were Olympic Athlete…
-Brainstorm ideas of what it takes to be an Olympic Athlete. Students list and illustrate the ideas.
-Put the sports names in ABC order.
-Write a news report.
-Take a picture of each students head. Have the student cut out their head and then draw the body of what sport they would like to compete in. Make sure they include an Olympic background behind their drawing. Below the drawing you could have student write about their time at the Olympics.
The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
Some people might think that, an “End-of-the-Year event” may seem unimportant, however it is VERY IMPORTANT cause,…it’s the end of the school year! The positive memories have an effect on the children’s attitude and last forever!…
This is a time to look back and reflect –as well as a time to think ahead. Additionally, we should be sure to recognize our graduating students ,in some way!
I have tried too many such activities in my teaching career, so far! The ones I am sharing here, are the ones I used last school year, with huge success! And as I often say, ” It has worked in my class; it might work in your class, too”!
END OF THE YEAR FUN IDEA for the little ones...
Two nice ideas for younger children…
Hand each student a sheet of paper
Then have the children draw pictures and write words of the things they would like to say “goodbye to” in your classroom.
It’s good “therapy” because we know how hard it can be to say goodbye to our familiar room and friends. When complete… bind it into a program book titled ‘GOODBYE ROOM’.
Grade —– (Or__________ ) HAS BEEN A BALL!
This is a fun and different way to have an autograph party as a remembrance of the time spent in class.
Beach balls are fairly inexpensive–order some from a novelty company-have children blow them up and then get autographs from each other on the balls!
For older students….
BALLOON TOSS: GOALS FOR THE FUTURE
At your end-of-year lesson, give each child a slip of paper and invite him or her to write one goal for the future.
Have students slip the notes inside balloons and then inflate them. Later, have kids toss balloons (like graduation caps), keeping one to pop and share its (anonymously) written message aloud –with the rest of the group.
(Actually, work the last part out in a way that the majority of the group likes—read one message, several messages, or all or no messages)
THANKS FOR THE COMPLIMENT(A nice way to end the school year!)
Need: Paper, markers, tape
Everyone gets a piece of paper taped to their back. (Make sure their name is at the top of the paper.)
Each person is given a marker.
Each person in the group must walk around the room and write a compliment or positive remark about that person on their back….. NO PEEKING!
When everyone has written something positive on each others back, they return to their seat and read what was written.
With a smaller group, everyone exchanges papers without looking at their own. Each participant can take a turn at reading aloud from person’s list they have. . (Adjust for a larger group)
This is a great self-esteem booster! If some children still don’t know each other very well…they can write such things as: You have a great smile; You’re hair always looks nice; Great blue eyes; etc.
At the end of the year have each child make an autograph book. They pass around their books and get everyone’s signatures and friendly notes for a summer keepsake.
Variation:You can ask them to decorate their own summer postcards and ask all their classmates to write a personal comment and sign on them.
One very favourite activity, I always do:
TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS DURING THE YEAR and put together a slide show.
I show this as PART OF A YEAR-END SCHOOL EVENT—but it would also be a wonderful “WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION to the new children we will have the next school year.
You could use it to show children and families some of the things you do-how they’re done–and what to expect! If you haven’t started, get your slides, videos, and activity scrapbooks going now!
Here’s the link to our last year’s slide show I have already posted about.
At the end of the school year, have students write themselves a letter. Tell them that no one but they will read this letter so they can say anything they want in it. However, part of that letter might include who their friends are, their current height and weight, favorite movies and music, and special things both good and bad that occurred during the year, summer plans…
Variation: Every year, i have them write me letters, as well!
On another sheet of paper or the back of that sheet ask students to write ten goals they would like to accomplish by this time next year (or sooner). Students seal this letter in an envelope, self-address it, and give it to you. In a year (or sooner) mail (or return in person) the letters to the students.
I loved this idea the very moment my NLP mentor Bonnie Tsai, asked us to do something similar in the end of our summer course at Pilgrim’s, Canterbury, Kent, three years ago!
A LETTER TO PARENTS AT THE END OF THE YEAR…
I always send letters to the parents in the end of each school year, both in Greek and in English.
This is the letter in English I sent them last school year.
I give you back your child ~ the same child you confidently entrusted to my care last fall. I give him/her back pounds heavier, inches taller, months wiser, more responsible, and more mature then he was then.
Although he would have attained his growth in spite of me, it has been my pleasure and privilege to watch his personality unfold day by day and marvel at this splendid miracle of development.
Ten years from now if we met on the street, we’ll feel the bond of understanding once more, this bond we feel today.
We have lived, laughed, played, studied, learned, and enriched our lives together this year. I wish it could go on indefinitely, but give him/back I must. Take care of him, (or her) for he (she) is precious. I’ll always be interested in your child and his destiny, wherever he goes, whatever he does, whoever he becomes.”
MURAL OF MEMORIES
On a nice day–take this activity outside!
Use paints, markers or colored chalk and invite children to create a mural illustrating the many wonderful things your group did, saw, and learned this year. It will be a great “advertisement” for next year’s program or class. (Don’t forget to hang it up when the new school year starts!) I personally, decided to do something alternative with it last school year: I used it to wrap up our class post box!!
As an extension, you can have your group write about the favorite memories they drew.
END OF THE YEAR BULLETIN BOARD AUTOGRAPHS
BONUS! The board is up and ready to go during the first week of school!
Remove what is currently on your Board such as art projects, etc. LEAVE UP Bulletin Board Backgrounds and Borders.
During the week BEFORE the last week of school, ask a talented student artist (or do this yourself!) to block letter the words: “HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!” on your bulletin board background paper.
Have several children color in the letters…
As the days get closer to the end, have youth autograph and write messages on the bulletin board paper.
With younger students, ask them to write words and draw pictures of what they have enjoyed the most during the school year!
Leave their NAMES AND MESSAGES up for everyone to appreciate.
When you return for the new school year you’ll be starting off with one area already decorated with POSSITIVE MESSAGES!
No bulletin board area? Get a long piece of butcher roll-paper and do the same…(Actually, this is what I did..)
The kids will like reading what they and others left a couple months back!
This activity is similar to this one…
I REMEMBER WHEN…
Put up the caption in big letters on your bulletin board or butcher paper taped to the wall— and then have children “decorate” it by writing things that they enjoyed doing in your program the past year!
A SUMMER LAPBOOK
I just love lapbooks! You can read about my first lapbooks in this previous post:
Lapbooks are made of file folders that are folded into a shutter flap so it opens up. Inside you have mini booklets that have a question or theme and the answers are inside. There are a variety of ways a booklet can be folded to demonstrate a topic.
They are really fun and my visual learners love lapbooks since we were introduced to them last year.
There are loads of topics that you can cover in your summer lapbook. I find that because I want to cover a broad topic, it’s nice to take bits and pieces from different lapbooks or it may be easier to create your own.
If you have never completed a lapbook, I suggest doing a free one yourself , to see how you like it.
Make a list of what you would like to cover and teach. Ask your children what they would like to learn. This will get them more involved and excited about their project as well.
Last but not least: THE-END-OF-THE-SCHOOL-YEAR (graduating students) SHOW
I love staging mini-musicals at the end of each school year!
School musicals and music TV show parodies, offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions. It has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more. School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.
Taking part in a school musical or Tv parody production, has many benefits for children – increased self-esteem, the development of their dramatic and musical talents, and the opportunity to learn about working together as part of a team.
I find ideas in our library English Readers or in different books or sites such as