The year is nearing its close, but it’s not over yet.
December is full of fun, and it’s the last chance to end the year strong in your ESL class. These language building activities designed just for December will help your ESL students finish their language learning year with a bang.
Enjoy These End of Year Activities with Your Students
Read a New Book
If your students haven’t already tried reading a book in English, December, which is National Read a New Book Month, is a great time to give it a try. You can easily set up a reading center in your classroom that encourages students to read a new book and share about it. In the center, place several books that are at the reading level of your students, some shorter, some longer, on a variety of topics, and at least one for each student in your class. (Ask your librarian if you need help choosing the books.) Also include sticky notes in two different colors at your center. Invite students to read a book at the center or take it home and give it a try. Once a student has finished the book, he should take one sticky note of each color. On one sticky note, he should write between two and five new vocabulary words he encountered in the book along with their definitions. On the other sticky note, he should write a review of the book including whether he liked it or not and if he would recommend it to others in the class. Have him place the sticky notes in the front or back cover of the book so other students can read them and consider their recommendations before choosing a new book.
A Book at the Past
In celebration of National Read a New Book Month, invite your students to take a look into their pasts for books that had a large impact on them. The books may be something they read when they were children, or it could be something that was recently on their bookshelves. Ask each person in class to write a short summary of the book (no spoilers, please) and why it meant so much to them. Put students in groups of three or four to talk about these impactful books.
Sweet Tooth Solution
Do your students have a sweet tooth? Do you? Give in to the craving on December 4, 2014 for National Cookie Day. The sweet treats are a classic after school snack for U.S. kids, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring them into your classroom for this special occasion. Use a cookie tasting competition as an excuse to write descriptive sentences with your ESL students. Invite anyone who wants to bring in cookies for the class for National Cookie Day (allergies permitting, of course). Make sure you have at least two or three types of cookies coming in. Then, have a taste off. Using the cookies you or your students brought, let students take a taste of three different types of cookies. (Feel free to cut the cookies into bite sized pieces to avoid a crazy sugar rush after the activity.) Then, challenge students to write the most descriptive sentences they can about each of the cookies they tasted. These sentences can use lots of adjectives, sensory descriptions (how the cookies tasted, smelled, looked, etc.), or dependent clauses (I liked this cookie because…The best cookie was the one which…).
Recipe for Sweetness
If tasting cookies isn’t for your class (for example, you have students with allergies), you can still celebrate National Cookie Day with this activity. Give students a copy of a standard cookie recipe. Read it as a class. As you do, point out the different parts of the recipe – the name of the cookie, a short description of the recipe, the list of ingredients, and the instructions for making the cookie. Then, using this recipe as a model, have students write a recipe for their ultimate cookie. They will have to come up with a good name, a description of the cookie, a list of ingredients, and the instructions for making the cookie. Students can write a recipe for a cookie that they have already had, or they can come up with a completely original recipe. Display the recipes in your classroom on a large piece of paper which is cut to look like a cookie jar.
It’s a Small World After All
Walter Disney changed the world as well as the lives of millions of kids everywhere, and his birthday is December 5th. Disney Enterprises started in a garage and is now one of the best known companies in the entire world. How much do your students know about Disney, their films, and their theme parks? Have discussion groups talk about their favorite Disney movie or if students have never seen a Disney movie, which movie they would like to see. Challenge groups to brainstorm as many Disney movies as they can.
A New Take on a Classic
Disney is famous for taking traditional tales and transforming them into contemporary movies that kids love. Some of these traditional stories gone Disney include Cinderella, Snow White, Pocahontas, and Mulan. Ask your students to think of a traditional story from their culture that they think would make a good Disney movie. The story should have an exciting plot and likable characters. Then have students write a formal letter to the Disney Corporation suggesting their idea. The letter should follow business letter format, summarize the traditional story, and explain why it would be a good Disney film.
Human Rights Day
December 10th is Human Rights Day. What are the rights that every human being should have? Put your students in discussion groups of three or four to answer that question. Then have each group compose a ranked list of the top five rights every person should have, number one being the most important. Do people throughout the world all have these rights? What could your students do to bring these rights to the people around the world? Encourage your students to use the conditional structure and modal verbs as they talk about how to bring the same rights to everyone around the world.
Roll the dice. Move your piece forward. It must be December 20th, National Game Day. As a class, brainstorm as many different games as you can including games from all over the world. Then give your students a public speaking challenge and yourself a chance to evaluate fluency and pronunciation. Have each student choose one game on the list or another that is not listed and prepare a presentation for the class. In the presentation, each student should teach the rest of the class how to play his game. Students should use visual aids to get their information across to their fellow students. If you have the time, choose one or more games and let the class play.
Winter is Coming
Though the weather may have turned cold long before now, the official start of winter isn’t until December 22nd. Do your students like the winter? It comes with cold weather and many activities that can only be done in the snow. Have students work in groups of two or three to brainstorm a list of their favorite winter activities, but don’t stop there. Have students work together to list their favorite activities for every other season in the year, too. Once students have listed their favorite activities, play a game of charades, one team against another, using their activities as the target words.
Happy Ultimate New Year
In the U.S., the stroke of 12 on December 31st is often celebrated with fireworks. Put your students into groups of three or four, and ask the students to share what people in their home countries do or don’t do to celebrate the birth of the New Year. Then have groups plan the ultimate international New Year’s Eve celebration. Each group should choose the activities they like best. Give each group a chance to present their ideal New Year’s Eve celebration to the class and take a vote to see which is most popular. If possible, plan some of those activities for an in class celebration as the year comes to a close.