Mistletoes and Jolly Holly: A Simple 5-Step Print and Go Christmas Vocabulary Lesson (Only If You’re Dreaming of a White Christmas!)

Mistletoes and Jolly Holly
A Simple 5-Step Print and Go Christmas Vocabulary Lesson (Only If You’re Dreaming of a White Christmas!)

Susan Verner
by Susan Verner 6,808 views |

Christmas is such a fun and festive time of year. Get your students in the spirit of the season with this vocabulary lesson on Christmas decorating.

Vocabulary List

The holidays have so many interesting and colorful words that you could use in class. Here are some of the words you might choose to teach in a vocabulary lesson and the ones on which the following exercises are based. Feel free to use some, all, or none of these words. You can still use the exercises for your lesson. You’ll just have to modify the materials to reflect the words you have chosen to teach. For this lesson, we will focus on the following list of Christmas words.

  • Tradition
  • Ornament
  • Festive
  • Decorations
  • Nativity
  • Present
  • Mistletoe
  • Mantle
  • Santa Clause
  • Wreath

If you need a little Christmas in the classroom, try this simple print and go vocabulary lesson for ESL students:

  1. 1

    Exercise 1: Guess the meaning from context.

    Give your students the following sentences. Ask them to guess the meaning of each underlined word based on its context in the sentence. Do not give them the actual definitions at this point. Stress to them that there are no wrong answers for this exercise and they should simply try to come up with the best definition they can based on the information they have.

    1. The Rodriguez family has a tradition they follow each year at Christmas.
    2. They put up the Christmas tree, and they hang lights and ornaments all over the tree.
    3. Now the tree is festive, and the decorations make everyone feel like Christmas is here.
    4. Now the tree is festive, and the decorations make everyone feel like Christmas is here.
    5. Then it is time to carefully put the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and all the other pieces up for the nativity set.
    6. Many families put presents under the tree, but the Rodriguez family will put their presents in front of the nativity.
    7. Mr. Rodriguez hangs a small branch of mistletoe in the doorway.
    8. The children hang their stockings on the mantle so Santa Clause can fill them.
    9. Santa Clause will come down the chimney on Christmas Eve and put presents in the stockings.
    10. They put a green wreath with a red bow on their front door. Everyone in the neighborhood can see this decoration.
  2. 2

    Exercise 2: Matching Definitions

    After students have guessed the meaning of each word, see if they can match the vocabulary words to their definitions. Students should be allowed to look back at the definitions they wrote in Exercise 1.

    1. Tradition
    2. Ornament
    3. Festive
    4. Decoration
    5. Nativity
    6. Presents
    7. Mistletoe
    8. Mantle
    9. Santa Clause
    10. Wreath
    1. A shelf over a fireplace
    2. A circular arrangement of branches and/or flowers to hang on a wall
    3. Something a person or group of person does year after year
    4. A scene of Jesus’ birth including baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, and animals
    5. Gifts
    6. The character who brings presents to good children on Christmas, otherwise known as Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or St. Nicholas
    7. A small decoration you hang on a Christmas tree
    8. In the spirit of the season
    9. A small white flower
    10. Something you use to make a place look prettier
  3. 3

    Exercise 3: Reading (or Listening) Comprehension

    After students have determined the meaning of each word, have them read the following paragraph (or read it to them). As they read, have students draw a picture of the Rodriguez family’s home as it is decorated for Christmas.

    The Rodriguez family has a tradition they follow each year at Christmas. At the beginning of December, they decorate their house for the holidays. First, they put up the Christmas tree, and they hang lights and ornaments all over the tree. Now the tree is festive, and the decorations make everyone feel like Christmas is here. Then it is time to carefully put the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and all the other pieces up for the nativity set. Many families put presents under the tree, but the Rodriguez family will put their presents in front of the nativity. This is a tradition in their home country of Panama. The Rodríguezes follow some traditions of the U.S., too. Mr. Rodriguez hangs a small branch of mistletoe in the doorway. Every time he stands under the mistletoe with Mrs. Rodriguez, he will get a kiss. The children hang their stockings on the mantle so Santa Clause can fill them. Santa Clause will come down the chimney on Christmas Eve and put presents in the stockings. Finally, they put a green wreath with a red bow on their front door. Everyone in the neighborhood can see this decoration, and it will make them smile.

    Have students compare their pictures with a partner to see if they understood what they read. Then have a class discussion about what the Rodriguez home looks like after it is decorated for Christmas.

    If you prefer, you can read this paragraph to students rather than having them read it themselves for a great listening activity.

  4. 4

    Exercise 4: Discussion

    Put your students in groups of three to four for this discussion activity. Each group should talk about the best way to decorate your ESL classroom for Christmas. As each team works together, they should come up with a list of decorations to use and where those decorations should be placed. They should also draw a picture of how they envision the classroom. Encourage students to do research online if they need ideas on how to decorate or which decorations to use.

    After the discussion time, have each group present their ideas to the class. Have the class vote on which decorating scheme they want to use this Christmas. Then gather or make the decorations you need and implement one group’s decoration ideas to make your classroom festive.

  5. 5

    Exercise 5: Writing

    At this point in the vocabulary lesson, your students should be comfortable with the vocabulary words you have introduced. Ask each student to write a paragraph describing an occasion for which they like to decorate. It does not have to be Christmas, just something that is important to them. If students don’t decorate for a holiday or tradition, ask them to imagine how they might like to decorate for a special occasion in the future. Encourage students to use the vocabulary words in their paragraphs.

Christmas, like any holiday, has lots of interesting and fun vocabulary associated with it. This is a simple lesson plan you can use to introduce and practice some Christmas themed vocabulary. The exercises are simple yet effective, and you can modify them for any vocabulary you want to teach your students.

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