Christmas fun in class- and few post-holiday class activities

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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.

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We played lots of fun games, with all classes!

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We sang Christmas songs!

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We even sang old-time-classic songs  such as “The rainbow song”, using Christmas ornaments!!

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We made Advent calendars!

 

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We decorated our special Christmas trees!

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We wrote Santa letters and met one of his best friends!

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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.

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 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 …

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

April Fool’s Day pranks for students!

DSCN0090This 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!

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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!!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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

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If I had older students, I would definitely use these amazing British Council lesson plans !

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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!

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Mardi Gras: fun class games

 

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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.

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Instructions:

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.

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For a version of “Simon Says,” have the kids play “Mardi Gras King or Queen Says.”

Instructions:

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Contests

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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!

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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.

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With my very young learners, we played ” Carnival dictation ” on the board.

Instructions:

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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!

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We also did an “Orange dance” with Carnival music! A dance which requires  collaboration between the partners and is so much fun!!

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Finally, we love playing “ Mardi Gras whispers“!

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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!

We love Mardi Gras in class! What about you?…..

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NEW favourite Christmas games and activities

 

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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

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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

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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!

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  1. Donate a coat or jumper to charity (leaving a happy note in the pocket)
  2. Donate to the local food bank
  3. Make christmas cards for your neighbours
  4. Leave change in the vending machine
  5. Sort through your toys and donate any that you no longer play with to charity or your local church
  6. Leave chalk messages around where you live
  7. Sharpen all the pencils in the classroom at breaktime
  8. Write a letter to your sibling telling them why you love them
  9. Leave a beautiful homemade bookmark in your library book and give one to the Librarian
  10. Leave the pound in the shopping trolley next time you go to the supermarket
  11. Deliver cookies to your neighbours
  12. Tidy your bedroom
  13. 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
  14. Sit next to someone you normally don’t at the lunch table and be nice to them
  15. Be a holiday helper – volunteer to deliver local christmas cards
  16. Make a bird feeder
  17. Send a care package to someone in the military
  18. Find three of your toys to give to the local childrens hospital
  19. Pass on some of your books to friends
  20. Give a lottery ticket to a stranger
  21. Donate books to your school library
  22. Leave out water for the birds
  23. Write thank you cards for your teacher, coach, Cubs leader or people that have influenced you in a positive way
  24. Clean up the area where you live by picking up litter.  Make sure you wear gloves and do it with an adult.
  25. Help round the house without being asked to
  26. Donate pet food to a local shelter
  27. Put together a shoebox for your local church
  28. Write a thank you note for the bin collectors and post person
  29. Wash your parents car
  30. Give a homeless person a blanket
  31. Deice your neighbours windshields in the morning
  32. Take everyone in your class a candy cane or cookie
  33. Take poinsettias to your nearest nursing home
  34. Make a christmas card for the school receptionist
  35. Offer to help an elderly friend or neighbour with their christmas decorations
  36. Make christmas flowers for the reception at school
  37. Make a thank you card for the school crossing staff
  38. Cook dinner for your family
  39. Offer to pack the shopping bags of the person in front of you and behind you at the supermarket
  40. Invite a new friend for a play date or out to play
  41. Walk someone elses dog
  42. Give out a complement
  43. Give out free hugs today
  44. Hold the door open for people all day
  45. Smile all day
  46. Let someone go in front of you in a queue
  47. Introduce yourself to someone new at school and chat with them
  48. Ring an elderly relative and have a nice chat to them

My super power

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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

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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

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My 201…infographic

I ask my students to create their infographics about their hopes or ambitions. Found the idea on http://www.easel.ly

 

Fortune teller

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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

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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

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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

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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

then, disappeared!”

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My variation to this activity was to ask them write their own similar poems, as homework!

The plate drawing game

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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:

  1. Draw a line for a floor
  2. Draw a Christmas tree . Add decorations of your choice.
  3. Draw a star on top of the tree
  4. Draw a fireplace with a mantel next to the tree
  5. Draw a present under the tree
  6. Draw a stocking hanging from the mantel of the fireplace.Add something IN it, if possible.

Winner: the player with the most points

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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

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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

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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

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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?

Musical Xmas

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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:

Past tenses:

Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer

Frosty the Snowman

Prepositions

Jingle Bells

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

Winter Wonderland

Away in a Manger

We Three Kings

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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

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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 mosa15christmasgames (768x1024) 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 !

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Christmas Charades

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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.

Star wars!

Star wars!

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:

  1. The name of the person receiving the letter-someone famous is best.
  2. Thanks for a particular present.
  3. A line describing the present or what is good about it.
  4. A line saying what the present is going to be used for.
  5. A closing sentence.

When you have finished, take turns to read the hilarious results!

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For more Christmas fun ideas, you should read my last year post: Our English class favourite Christmas games

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Halloween fun is on!

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 !

http://busyteacher.org/3523-spooky-halloween-fun-for-your-esl-class.html

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/halloween

http://www.eslkidstuff.com/HalloweenGames.htm#.VkUKVdIrLIU

http://www.esolcourses.com/links/halloween-resources.html

http://oupeltglobalblog.com/2014/10/23/efl-classroom-activities-and-resources-for-halloween/

http://genkienglish.net/halloween.htm

 

Why I like Halloween ESL lessons so much??

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.

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Playing with the alphabet, on Halloween day!

 

 

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Playing an alphabet “Trick or Treat”!

 

 

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Some of our “European Day of Languages” activities

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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?

Well.

So and so.

Bad.

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!

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….

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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.

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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 European Day 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 European Day 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 !!

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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!

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And…don’t forget: WE ALL SMILE IN THE SAME LANGUAGE!

School Sports Day activities-Teaching kids about the Olympic values.

Creative writing

We love creative writing in my class!

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:

-Friendship

. sympathy

. empathy

. honesty

.mutual understanding

. compassion

. trust

. positive reciprocity

Proud medal holders!

Proud medal holders!

We also mentioned the Meanings of the Paralympic values

-Determination

Believing in yourself to continue to do the best you can even if things are difficult.Making or arriving at a decision with purpose.

-Equality

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:

. discrimination

. prejudice

. bias

. inequality

.unfairness.

This is the link to the printables I used for some of the activities we did, later  : http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/themes/olympics/

First, we did some brainstorming about the Olympic ideals.

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….!

Our medals!

Our medals!

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.

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We finally acted the story out in class and had much fun doing so!!

Time for a story!

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 ...

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 !

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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.

This is also, our goal as educators , isn’t it ?

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End-of-the-school-year fun activities!

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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!

The ideas below,come from many different sources ! One I can recall   is  http://www.kidactivities.net/

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”!

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END OF THE YEAR FUN IDEA for the little ones...

Two nice ideas for younger children

  1.  Hand each student a sheet of paper
  2.  Then have the children draw pictures and write words  of the things they would like to say “goodbye to” in your classroom.
  3.  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….

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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)

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THANKS FOR THE COMPLIMENT (A nice way to end the school year!)

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Need: Paper, markers, tape

  1.  Everyone gets a piece of paper taped to their back. (Make sure their name is at the top of the paper.)
  2.  Each person is given a marker.
  3.  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!
  4.  When everyone has written something positive on each others back, they return to their seat and read what was written.
  5.  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.

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AUTOGRAPH BOOK

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.

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One very favourite activity, I always do:

 TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS DURING THE YEAR and put together a slide show.

  1.   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.
  2.  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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vr9-iFULcMo[/embed]

 

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WRITE YOURSELF A LETTER

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!

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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!

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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.

“Dear Parents,

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.”

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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.

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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!

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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!

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A SUMMER LAPBOOK

I just love lapbooks! You can read about my first lapbooks in this previous post:

https://aphrogranger.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/our-first-lapbook/

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.

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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

Enthusiastic audience!!

Enthusiastic audience!!

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

http://www.childrenstheatreplays.com/schoolplays.htm

Here are some examples of what we have staged during the last few years!

Starting with this year’s TV talent show parody “The Voice”!

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Our coaches and show presenters

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My students seem to remember these end-of-the-year shows, for..ever!

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Dancing, singing, improvisation ….all their talents in action!!

"The Wizard of Oz":School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions

“The Wizard of Oz”:School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions

" Alice in Wonderland":School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

” Alice in Wonderland”:School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

" The Wizard of Oz": A School musical, has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more.

” The Wizard of Oz”: A School musical, has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more.

Our sixth graders musical every year, is a huge success! Both the kids and their parents are looking so much forward to it!

Our sixth graders musical every year, is a huge success! Both the kids and their parents are looking so much forward to it!

 

"Your face sounds familiar- A concert": Music, is an essential part in musical performances! It helps my students reveal their inner talents!

“Your face sounds familiar- A concert”: Music, is an essential part in musical performances! It helps my students reveal their inner talents!

 

" Your face sounds familiar-A concert": The FUN element of ELT music shows, is is obvious in this photo!!

” Your face sounds familiar-A concert”: The FUN element of ELT music shows, is is obvious in this photo!!

 

" A Eurovision song contest parody": Here's an Improvisation end-of-the-school year concert which we all just LOVED! In the photo, Agathonas Iakovides and Coza Mostra in...Eurovision 2013!!

” A Eurovision song contest parody”: Here’s an Improvisation end-of-the-school year concert which we all just LOVED! In the photo, Agathonas Iakovides and Coza Mostra in…Eurovision 2013!!

ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!

LET’S RECHARGE OUR BATTERIES AND GET READY FOR ANOTHER AMAZING SCHOOL YEAR!!

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Carnival fun in class: when improvisation rules!

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William Shakespeare claimed that

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143
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In theory, drama puts the teacher in the role of supporter in the learning process and the students can take more responsibility for their own learning.  Ideally, the teacher will take a less dominant role in the language class and let the students explore the language activities.  In the student centered classroom, every student is a potential teacher for the group.
Drama for second language learners can provide an opportunity to develop the imagination of the students. The students can go beyond the here and now and even ‘walk in the shoes’ of another. It provides an opportunity for independent thinking.
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When the students are having fun, they let their second language guard down and become less inhibited.  The student will tend to relax and stop blocking out the new language.
In the ESL/EFL classroom, role-playing is a powerful tool.  It teaches cooperation, empathy for others, decision making skills and encourages an exchange of knowledge between the students.
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The benefits of drama to develop the imagination should not be undervalued.  In our rote school routines of memorization and compulsory subject matter, we sometimes do not spend enough time on encouraging our students to use their imagination.  It is the spark that makes the ordinary into something incredible.  Imagination is the magic force that is beyond facts, figures and techniques which can inspire new ideas.  It is with imagination that the ordinary is transformed into something significant.
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We shouldn’t underestimate this powerful teaching tool to reach our students.

Having all the above in mind, I decided to have my students use their carnival accessories and costumes, as their inspiration to create their own skits, working  in groups! It was actually the day, the school Carnival party would take place during the last two teaching hours, therefore all the kids were in the spirit of  Carnival fun and came to class wearing Carnival masks and costumes ! It was difficult to have a..proper english lesson under the circumstances, therefore, I decided to ask them to use their costumes and masks as realia and write and act out their own skits, working in groups! The outcome, was amazing! It was hilarious! I love it when my students become creative!

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Although, my students used their own scenarios , I also asked them to play one  favourite drama game  :

“Scene from real life” 

Procedure:

1.  Divide the class into groups of 3-4 students each.

2.  One member of the group must tell the others a true story about an event in his/her life.  Encourage him/her to describe it in as much detail as possible.  This person becomes the “director”.

3.  The director then chooses members of the group to play the various characters involved in the scene (including him/herself).

4.  The actors then improvise the scene in front of the director.

5.  After each run-through, the director should give notes. Then the group improvises the scene again.  The goal of the director is to make the scene as believable as possible.

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6.  Once the directors of each group are satisfied with their scenes, have the groups share in front of each other.

With my very young learners, we tried several Carnival fun games such as ” The Carnival King says…”

"The Carnival King says..."

“The Carnival King says…”

or many Carnival-themed vocabulary games such as the one shown in the photo below, called” The Carnival masks dictation”  , played in teams!

"Carival Masks Dictation"

“Carival Masks Dictation”

I also, had my afternoon students make these special LEG puppets

Leg puppets

Leg puppets

and use them to play ” Musical chairs” or ” Freeze”! I finally asked my older students to use the leg puppets in order to act their own puppet shows!

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Improvisation , was the key issue in that, too!

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Working in teams to create the story!

 

That was an alternative english lesson, which we all enjoyed , as you can see in the photos!

Highly recommended to all teachers!

Halloween fun!!!

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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.

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Some games and ideas were ones that I created and some came from my colleagues or the Internet.

Here are only  FEW  of my favourites.

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The Donut Game

My students love this game – The day of the class party, they buy a  donut .

I divide the students into pairs  and give each pair a 3-4 foot long piece of strong string/butcher cord.Two pairs of students compete against each other.

While a student holds each end of the string, the other  student places a donut through the string and with hands behind his/her back, tries to take a bite of it, as the other student slides the donut from one end to the other by moving the string gently.

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I make sure that the student doesn’t get too frustrated.

There is always spooky music during the game and when a music piece  is over, time is up and we decide which student has eaten most of his/her donut!  The winners are awarded Halloween stickers and the game continues. TONS OF FUN!

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Halloween Spell Book

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This is an amazing Activityvillage idea, which we finally turn into a class competition for the best spell! Put together your own book of common spells with this Activityvillage  fun Halloween printable!

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Print the cover onto coloured printer card or colour it in yourself. Then print as many pages as you like and fill them in with lots of gruesome and interesting details.

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The Pumpkin Patch chant

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Setting: Small or Large Group
Objective: Oral Language development, name recognition
Materials: one pumpkin die-cut per child, Sharpie marker
Directions: Write the each student’s name on a pumpkin with a Sharpie. Sit the students in a circle in your large group area and place all the pumpkins in the middle of the circle on the floor face down. Have each student take a turn coming to the middle and turning over a pumpkin and reading the name. The entire class says the following rhyme:

Who took the pumpkin from the pumpkin patch??

Who took the pumpkin from the pumpkin patch??

“Who took the pumpkin from the pumpkin patch?
________ (insert name of student whose name appears on the pumpkin die-cut) took the pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.”
Student whose name appears on the pumpkin says: “Who me?”
Teacher and class= “Yes, you”
Student= “Couldn’t be”
Teacher and class= “Then who?”

I repeat the activity by having the student whose name was on the pumpkin turn another one over. I continue until all students have had a turn.

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Bobbing for apples

An old-time-classic Halloween game! I put  lots of apples in a bowl of water and thenstudents  try to get them out! But, no hands!!You could make this traditional game a little more scary by filling the bobbing tub with milk and adding red food colouring. Add enough colouring until the milk resembles bright red blood….You could also use a large plastic “cauldron” rather than a bucket or tub.

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What’s missing?

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Very useful to teach and practice Halloween vocabulary! I stick Halloween word cards on the board and ask two students each time, representing two teams, to close their eyes or turn their back to the board.Meanwhile, I remove a card from the board and ask: ” What’s missing”?

mos14hweennewgameThe first student to find out and name the card missing, wins a point for his/her team! Fun!

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Foot Ghost

I ask the kids to trace their foot  on white craft foam or paper . They cut foot pattern out of it. If they wish, they trace and cut a hand pattern and glue the hands on the back of the ghost . They can also draw a face and glue wiggly eyes , on the heel of the foot. They can use ribbon or other materials to decorate their  ghost.I later ask them to write simple sentences on the ghost  and finally put all ghosts on the classroom walls. Cute!

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Halloween Spooky Tree
I build a spooky tree decoration using black and purple card, which I put up on the classroom walls.

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I ask my kids to use web,  spiders,  little ghosts and  halloween words pictures  to decorate our tree. A great way to review Halloween vocabulary and decorate the class at the same time!

Pin the wart on the Witch’s nose

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I draw a big picture of a Witch.I get lumps of green play dough, blidfold each child and let them put the wart on the Witch’s nose! Variations I have also tried: Pin the nose on Jack ‘O Lantern, Pin the tail on the black cat.

Wrap the mummy

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I use loo rolls for this hilarious activity! I have the children work in teams and see who can wrap up their friend the fastest! Spooky background music, necessary!

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Costume contest

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We love it in my class when we take a vote on the best and scariest costumes. The kids actually decide what dress-up clothes or accessories to put on , on the spot! Sometimes, imagination works miracles!I always make sure that  I hand out some..spooky prize for the best costumes!

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Horrible Halloween Recipes

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I always give students a handout with Halloween party recipes and ask them to go home and try some of them and bring them back to class for their classmates to taste! This year, I asked them to try the “red/green  slime dessert” .They had to make an either green or red jelly, break it up with a fork, add some gummy worms etc in it , to make a slimy dessert. Yummy!?

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Trick or Treat?

Trick or Treat?

Trick or Treat?

ALL my students love it when they go Trick or Treat to all the classes in school and get treats!!

 

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Halloween treats

Halloween treats

Halloween cartoons and videos time 

I always have my classes watch Halloween videos and comment on them! This year, I had them watch a video about how to carve a pumpkin, a Disney Halloween cartoon story and some easy and fun Halloween songs for very young learners on youtube! There is such a large collection on line of all of the above therefore, I won’t suggest anything here…

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Classroom party games are great for team building and student motivation in the classroom!!

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Don’t try to play all these games at the same party. You won’t have time and you’ll be rushing through them. Keep something new for the next Halloween  school year party.

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The main thing is to have fun and enjoy your students!!