If you’re looking for some of the best ESL Christmas games and activities, then you’re certainly in the right place. We’re going to give you the rundown on the best ones, along with Christmas worksheets and lesson plans to consider using in your classes.
ESL Christmas Games and Activities
Are you ready? Let’s get to the Christmas ESL activities and games.
#1: Charades ESL Christmas Game
If you want to have some fun with your students, then consider playing Christmas charades. You probably already know this game—it’s when someone has to act out a word or phrase and their teammates have to guess what they’re doing. The only preparation it requires is coming up with the Christmas words.
Want to know more? Find out how I play this game in my classes:
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 78 Pages - 03/22/2021 (Publication Date)
#2: Gift Exchange
A fun idea for a Christmas party is to have a small gift exchange. I only have one catch—the gift must be something used. It should be something that students have around their house which still has some life in it but which they no longer use.
Then, do the regular white elephant exchange. Each student gets a number. The first person chooses a gift and opens it. The next person can steal that gift or select another one. Each item can only be stole three times.
#3: Partner Conversation Starters for Christmas
If you ask your students what they want to work on in class, “free-talking” or “conversation” is usually right up there at the top! In my experience, it can be difficult to just tell students to, “talk about ABC.” They’ll often talk for a minute or two and then there will be a lot of silence!
This is preventable if you give them a bunch of conversation starters related to a topic. In this case, just a few of them could be:
- Do you celebrate Christmas in your family? (more ideas here: ESL Family Games)
- What are some of your traditions?
- What’s a holiday in your country where the family gets together? Tell me about it!
- What do you think about giving presents at Christmas? Consumeristic or a nice idea?
Find out more details here about one of my favourite Christmas activities for ESL students.
#4: TEFL Christmas Guessing Game
#5: Christmas Songs for Kids
What says Christmas like some Christmas carols, right? Have a sing-a-long with your kids and even if you don’t sing that well yourself, no problem. Just use YouTube! You can find a song for any age and level of students.
#6: Christmas Candies in the Jar
A fun, school-wide Christmas ESL game that you can play is to put some Christmas-coloured candy in a sealed jar of some kind. Then, each student gets to make a guess about how many candies there are. The person with the correct guess (or the closest) wins the candy!
I also like to do this activity around Easter. Here are some other ideas too: ESL Easter Games and Activities.
#7: Picture Prompt
Unless your students are absolute beginners, it’s likely that they already know many Christmas words. This is often the case for most holidays. If this is the case, it can be helpful to get them to activate their prior knowledge before teaching them new things.
One way to do this is to show a picture filled with Christmasy things. Then, depending on the level of the students, they can do various things. One thing is to simply shout out words of what they see. Or, they can make sentences using them. For example, “Santa is sneaking down the chimney.” Or, even more advanced students can talk with a partner about what they see and if it reminds them of anything in their own lives.
Find out more details about this super simple yet versatile activity:
#8: Christmas-Themed Presentations
A fun idea for a holiday class is to have students give some short presentations about a holiday tradition in their family. Or, if the students are all from different countries, they could talk about a certain holiday that they have that’s roughly equivalent to North American Christmas.
If you want to do some ESL presentations, you’ll want to check this out first:
#9: Running Dictation
#10: Make Homemade Christmas Cards
A fun activity is to get students to make some Christmas cards for their friends and family members, or even other teachers and students at your school. Bring in a variety of paper, glue, glitter, pencil crayons, and other art supplies and let students get to work!
Consider showing some samples of Christmas cards from Google Images so students can see the possibilities. Trees, Christmas scenes, Santa and reindeer, etc.
Another situation in which to make cards is for Valentine’s Day! I’ve done this with lots of success for this holiday. Find out more: ESL Valentine’s Day.
#11: Taboo ESL Christmas Game
You’ve probably played the party game Taboo before. The way it works is that you have to describe a certain word but you can’t use certain other words from a list. I modify this game and just get students to describe the words using any sort of vocabulary that they want. It’s a nice game to use with Christmas vocab.
Want to check out the modifications and how I get my students playing Taboo? Find out here:
#12: Chain Spelling With Christmas Words
A quick time-filler is this easy game, chain spelling. It helps students practice this important skill but it also requires nothing in the way of preparation or materials, making it a serious winner in my books.
The way it works is that students have to spell various Christmas words one-by-one. If they miss a letter, they are out of the game and it continues until only one person is left standing. Want to give it a go in your classes? Learn more here:
This also works well for any holiday, including New Year’s Eve.
#13: Just One Question
If you want to get students up and out of their seats talking to their classmates, as well as using a whole bunch of skills in a single activity, consider trying out Just One Question. In this case, you’d want to set the theme of the questions as related to Christmas or other holidays.
Basically, each pair of students has to think of one interesting question and then survey at least 10 of their classmates to find out what they think about it. After that, they compile the results and then report them back to the class. As you might guess, this requires some serious language skills!
Find out how to do this activity right here:
#14: Dialogue Substitution
#15: Christmas Dictogloss
A challenging activity that works on listening skills in a big way is dictogloss. Find (or write yourself) a passage of someone describing their Christmas traditions or experiences. Then, read it out to the students at a faster-than-normal pace.
Students have to work together to recreate what they just heard, either by speaking or writing. Then, read it again and students do the same. After that, they can compare what they have to the original version.
Want to give it a try in your classes? Check it out here:
#16: Movie Day—Home Alone
Watching Home Alone is a classic Christmas activity in many countries and students seem to love it! It has a nice combination of speaking but then action so that even students who are not great at English can easily understand what’s going on. Of course, you could be kind and use subtitles.
This is one of my favourite Christmas activities for ESL students.
#17: I’m an Alien
A fun activity that I like to do with kids is this simple one. I pretend that I’m an alien and ask them to describe Christmas (or another holiday in their country). Of course, I play it up and ask a whole bunch of “Why” questions. Find out more about it here:
#18: Christmas Bingo Game
Who doesn’t love playing Bingo in English class, right? I like to play some holiday-themed Bingo whenever possible. However, to make it a bit more difficult, I only describe the words instead of actually just saying it. This is a far more challenging way for students to get some serious listening practice as well as review their Christmas vocabulary words.
Want to know more about this version? Check it out here:
#19: Telephone Speaking and Listening Game
It’s always nice to have some games and activities that require absolutely nothing in the way of preparation or materials, right? Telephone, aka Chinese Whispers is one such activity.
The way it works is that you can say a phrase to the first student from each team. They pass the message along to the end until that person has to say the phrase. It’s rarely the same and the results are often hilarious. In this case, make your sentences Christmas-related.
Find out more details here:
#20: Spelling Board Race
If you’ve just taught your students Christmas vocabulary words, then a fun way to review them is to play the spelling race game. Divide the class up into two teams. Then, one student from each team comes to the board. Say a word and they have to race to spell it correctly. The first person to do it gets a point for their team. Play until everyone has had a chance.
#21: Elf on the Shelf
- A timeless Christmas classic the whole family fan enjoy
- The Elf on the Shelf comes in light skin and dark skin boy and girl...
- #1 national bestseller with over 2.5 million copies sold
- Touted as "the best thing since The Night before Christmas"
If you teach kids, a fun Christmas game to introduce them to is Elf on the Shelf. They are special dolls that move magically in the night to someplace new. The kids, when they come into school have to find them but the rule is that they can’t touch them because they’ll lose their magical powers.
#22: Word Association
Unless students are total beginners, it’s likely that they already know a good bit of Christmas vocabulary in English. That’s why I like to use an activity like this one to help them activate their prior knowledge. Find out all the details you need to know about it here:
#23: Christmas ESL Reading Lesson
I love to plan some dedicated reading lessons in my general English conversation classes. They’re a nice change of pace from the usual communicative style of activities found in most ESL textbooks.
Find, or write a passage of something talking about their Christmas experiences. Of course, include lots of the target vocabulary that you’ve been teaching your students. Then, plan your lesson and don’t forget to do some post-reading activities to get the most out of the lesson.
#24: Discussion Starters
If you tell students to talk about Christmas with their partner for 5 minutes, you may or may not be met with near silence! there just isn’t enough direction and students may be unsure what they’re actually supposed to talk about.
A far better way is to give students some discussion starters to make this into a more meaningful and interesting activity.
#25: Flip Chart Vocab Review Game
#26: Who Am I? / What Am I?
Try out this fun party game for Christmas vocabulary words like Santa Claus, Rudolf, Christmas tree, present, etc. Students have a secret word they can’t see and must ask their classmates yes/no questions to figure out who or what it is.
Find out more details about one of the best Christmas games for teachers to try out with their students:
#27: Have a Christmas Debate
There are lots of things to talk about around the holidays. For example:
- Parents shouldn’t encourage their children to believe in Santa.
- Re-gifting is fine.
- Christmas is too commercialized.
Have a friendly and fun debate about one of these topics in your class!
#28: Task-Based Christmas Lesson For Adults
Try out task-based teaching for your next Christmas lesson. Have each group do some research about a popular holiday tradition, make a poster about it and then do a short presentation to the class. It’s interesting, engaging and a nice change of pace from the usual kind of ESL lesson.
Want some more ideas for this kind of teaching? Have a look:
#29: ESL Christmas Listening Lesson
I love to do some lessons that are focused on listening. They’re a nice change of pace from the usual speaking-focused lesson plans found in most ESL textbooks. It’s easy to design your own with a passage of something talking about Christmas, perhaps their experiences from when they were a child.
Find out all the details you need to know about planning this style of lesson:
#30: Cookie Decorating
A fun activity to do for a Christmas party is this one! Buy or make some cookies in appropriate shapes (Santa, trees, reindeer, etc.), along with some icing. Students can bring in decorations like green and red sprinkles or candies. Be sure to have some paper towels on hand for sanitary reasons, as well as to prevent a huge mess.
#31: 3 Things Writing Activity
To use this simple writing activity in a holiday lesson, require that students choose Christmas-themed words:
#32: Random Acts of Kindness
The holidays are a nice time to talk about (and do) some random acts of kindness. Get students to think of some nice things they could do for people or the Earth and then if feasible, actually do them! You’ll have some fun, spread some good cheer and make the world a better place.
#33: Santa Comes to School
If you can get your hands on a Santa costume and have a teacher or other staff member who is willing to dress up, have Santa come to school. The children can make lists or questions for Santa and then have a chance to ask him for what they want that year. Of course, take some pictures and even hand out some small snacks or gifts.
It’ll be the most exciting thing to happen at your school all year!
#34: Christmas Would You Rather Questions
Have some fun with these Christmas-themed would you rather questions.
#35: Christmas Knock Knock Jokes
Who doesn’t love a good joke, right? Try out some of these holiday-themed ones that are great for getting som groans out of your friends and family!
#36: Christmas Decorations
One thing that I love to do each year is to get my students to help decorate the school Christmas tree. If you don’t have a tree, you can often find cheap ones at thrift stores. Then, come up with a craft project to make a decoration (look on Pinterest for some great ideas).
Once students are done, have them put their ornament on the tree and of course, take some pictures for the parents!
#37: Christmas Idioms
There are lots of fun Christmas idioms and holiday phrases like “You and yours,” “White Christmas,” and “Deck the Halls.” Consider doing a lesson on them! In my experience, students love learning about idioms and fun phrases. Here are some of my top picks:
#38: Christmas Vocabulary Quiz
#39: Christmas Jokes for Kids
If you want to get some laughs, be sure to check out some of these Christmas jokes for Kids.
#40: ESL Christmas Pictionary
Divide students into teams and have them draw Christmas-related words or phrases while their team guesses within a time limit.
#41: Santa Says
A holiday twist on “Simon Says.” Students follow commands only if the command begins with “Santa says,” for example, “Santa says touch your nose.”
#42: Decorate the Tree Relay
Divide students into teams and provide them with ornaments made from colored paper. Students take turns running to a tree (or drawing of a tree on the board) and “decorating” it with their ornaments. The team that finishes first wins.
More ESL Christmas Ideas from the Let’s Talk TEFL Podcast
Christmas ESL Vocabulary
Here are some of the most common words related to Christmas that you might want to teach your students:
- candy cane
- Christmas Eve
- Christmas tree
- Frosty the snowman
- North pole
- Rudolph the red nose reindeer
- the holidays
ESL Christmas Lesson Plans
A huge time-saver can be ready-made lesson plans that you can just print off and use. Why reinvent the wheel if other teachers have done the hard work for you, right? Here are some of my top picks for ESL Christmas lessons for adults and children:
Do you have a recommendation for an ESL holiday lesson? Leave a comment and let us know.
Christmas ESL Worksheets
There are lots of great TEFL Christmas worksheets out there to choose from. Here are some of the best options:
FAQs about ESL Christmas lessons
There are a number of common questions that people have about Christmas lesson plans for English learners. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
What is the focus of your ESL Christmas lesson?
The focus is on introducing Christmas vocabulary and traditions to ESL learners.
How can you engage students at the beginning of the lesson?
Start with a holiday-themed icebreaker activity, such as “Find Someone Who” with holiday-related questions.
What are some key Christmas-related vocabulary words to teach?
Santa Claus, Christmas tree, presents, decorations, carols, reindeer, sleigh.
How can you incorporate speaking practice into the lesson?
Have students discuss their favorite holiday traditions or share what they want for Christmas using the new vocabulary.
What cultural aspects should you cover during the lesson?
Explain the origin of this holiday, how different countries celebrate it, and the significance of traditions like hanging stockings.
What listening activity could you use to improve comprehension?
Play a popular Christmas song or read a short Christmas story aloud, then ask comprehension questions.
How might you encourage creative writing in this lesson?
Assign students to write a letter to Santa, expressing their wishes and explaining why they deserve the gifts.
What group activity could you organize to promote teamwork?
Divide students into groups and have them create a short skit depicting a Christmas celebration using the new vocabulary.
How could you incorporate arts and crafts into the lesson?
Have students make their own Christmas cards or decorations while labeling them with vocabulary words.
What homework assignment could you give to reinforce the lesson?
Ask students to research and share a unique holiday tradition from a different culture.
Did you like these Christmas Class Ideas?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Smith, Jennifer Booker (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 134 Pages - 03/31/2016 (Publication Date)
Yes? Thought so. Then you’re going to love this book over on Amazon: 101 ESL Activities for Kids. The key to better English classes for kids is a wide variety of interesting and engaging games and activities and this book will help you get there in a big way. There’s enough good stuff to get through the entire semester in style.
Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide. Or, you might consider taking the digital version with you on your phone, tablet, or laptop to your favorite coffee shop for a serious lesson planning session.
Whatever the case, it’s some ESL teaching awesome. So, check out the book for yourself on Amazon but only if you want to level up your TEFL classes for kids:
Have your say about these ESL Christmas Games?
What’s your top pick for an ESL Christmas Game? Is it one of the options from this or do you have another one you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2024-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API