This time of the year can be spooky fun. Teaching any age/level learner, educators can get really creative in their lesson planning. Sometimes it can be hard to think of outside of the box ideas to bring the holidays into the classroom, but for young learners especially, it is a great way to pique the interest of the students. Not everyone celebrates Halloween, of course, but these ideas could be modified to be Fall, Thanksgiving, or even Christmas and Hanukkah.
Are your learners needing to practice describing the rooms of a house? Pick a creepy, haunted house to describe, and practice using all the vocabulary your learners have acquired. Students can write simple sentences, or for more advanced learners, even create an advertisement for “Monster Dream Home Magazine,” a silly, fictitious publication. If Halloween is not an option, have the students describe a beautifully decorated fall home which boasts pumpkins, fall leaves, and other autumnal decor.
Do you have students learning body parts and descriptive adjectives? Have them describe a witch. Put those descriptive words to good use and label parts of the witch’s body, clothes, hair and accessories. Get hands on and have them do an activity where they put their hand into a mystery box. In the box, place things like cooked ramen noodles (brains), dried apricots (ears), peeled grapes or olives (eyeballs) and raisins (warts or boogers). This is a fun activity to get students involved, talking, and thinking about those descriptive words. Click here for more details on a Halloween mystery box. If you are not wanting to do a Halloween theme, put things like straw, buttons, a piece of flannel and some twine into a box. Students can guess what each item is and then what the items will create. These components would of course be for a scarecrow. This activity can also easily be modified for Christmas by describing Santa Claus and doing a mystery box for all things Christmas. Click here for more ideas.
Another great writing activity for Halloween is an obituary or epitaph. If your class can write simple sentences in the past tense, they can write epitaphs for Disney or cartoon characters, or for make believe names pulled from a hat. “Here lies Susie Sue. She was a great friend. She was a wonderful student.” Students use the past tense and their adjectives to write these memorandums. For older students, you could use the names of celebrities. If you have crafty or artistic learners, you can have them color a tombstone and write their epitaphs on the paper. For printable options, visit colormegood. Turn this assignment into a Christmas or Hanukkah activity by writing a list of reasons why the student should receive gifts for the holiday. Students can choose a classmate’s name (or write one for themself). “Michael was a good boy this year. He was nice to his friends.”
Would you like your beginning language learners to practice simple ideas like colors, numbers or basic greetings? This can be done easily by making a simple game of “I Have, Who Has.” How can you make this holiday themed? Choose Halloween, Fall, Christmas or Hanukkah colors or themed templates. Count how many students you have in your class. If you have 10, for example, you will need to make 10 cards. As an example, French lesson on colors, you could write, “I have orange, qui a noir?” The next card would say, “I have black, qui a violet?” This would go around using colors or phrases, numbers, etc. until the last card asked the question to match the first. For example, the last card would say something like, “I have blanc, qui a orange?” so that it matches the first card. Here is a fun template for Halloween “I have, Who has.” Although it is not free, there is a cute Christmas template on TeachersPayTeachers. This could be done for Thanksgiving by describing the foods Americans enjoy on the holiday. “I have turkey, who has mashed potatoes?” “I have the white, fluffy food that is covered in gravy. Who has green beans?”
An easy and fun lesson to do on cause-and-effect relationships is a writing assignment based on the book series “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” This can easily be done as a speaking “round robin” activity too. First, the teacher would want to read a few of the books from the author, Laura Numeroff. “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” and “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” both have the same format as the first mentioned book. Learners of all ages can appreciate the cause and effect/domino relationship here. Teachers who want hands-on activities can certainly set up dominos in the classroom to have students physically see the relationship. After reading a few of the books, the teacher can have students identify the cause-and-effect relationship in each book. The students can then pick a Halloween character (witch, ghost, skeleton) and write a few sentences in the “if/then” format. For Thanksgiving, the character could be a pilgrim or native American. For Christmas, the options are endless.
No matter the age or language level, students can enjoy a little creativity in the classroom while practicing important language skills. It may take a little time to prepare, but it is worth it in the end. Students remember the “fun” lessons far more than the lectures or basic worksheets.
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