While Easter may be the largest holiday in April, there are actually several noteworthy minor holidays that you can use as topics in your ESL classes too.
As the weather warms up, assuming you are in a country with four seasons, students may start to get a little restless so you want to keep this in mind when planning your lessons. Encourage learners to be more active by letting them move around during class; this will help them stay engaged in lesson topics and make them more eager to participate.
April Lesson Activities You Should Try
April Fool’s Day
It might be a bit dangerous to mention April Fool’s Day to your students before the first of the month but assuming they are generally well behaved, you may not be the subject of their pranks. Besides giving a short introduction on this special day, you can use it as a theme for your lesson: see our article ‘Foolproof Fun Lesson Activities for April Fool's Day’. This holiday lesson is also perfect for practicing the “If ~, then ~.” structure with your class and students will find it amusing to come up with ridiculous then clauses. For example give students the beginning of sentences like “If I change the time on my dad’s clock, ~.” and ask them to either brainstorm consequences or match sentence beginnings with appropriate endings. While a very unique holiday, try not to spend too much time simply discussing April Fool’s Day. It serves much better as a theme than as a lesson topic.
During the winter, everyone looks forward to spring so now that it has finally arrived, celebrate it! With very young learners consider introducing some basic spring vocabulary and doing a simple craft activity that either makes flowers or uses flowers (see our article ‘6 Splendid Spring Crafts for the ESL Classroom’). With other students you can talk about topics such as spring break activities and destinations, flowers blooming, and a range of other spring related topics based on the interests of your students. Beginners and even intermediate learners would probably appreciate a short study break too and enjoy completing a craft activity to decorate the classroom with. Adding some spring colors to your walls will brighten the room for the whole season. See our article ‘Spring Is All Around: How To Teach Outdoors English Lessons’ for more information on teaching an outdoors spring lesson.
Easter is such an important religious holiday that it is likely some of your students observe it in more than just the commercial sense. With learners at any level, you can encourage students to explain what they know about the holiday before giving your introduction. By cleverly crafting your questions, you should be able to elicit a lot of information from them and get a good sense of their experience with the holiday. Take a poll of the class to see who goes to church on Easter and what foods are most common for Easter dinner. Easter egg hunts, if you can add some educational value, are also lots of fun but be sure to ask for permission if you want to give your students candy. See BusyTeacher’s Easter worksheets here.
April has the distinction of being Poetry Month. In order to talk about this topic with students, consider dedicating a lesson to rhymes and poetry. These two topics are ideal because students can think about pronunciation first and formats second. First choose a simple word such as cat and ask students to come up with as many rhyming words as possible. Repeat this several times. You can also create a worksheet with pairs of words where students have to decide whether the two words rhyme or not. You should encourage students to say words aloud to help them decide. Next, talk about poems and introduce some common poem structures. Poems can be very hard for non-native speakers to write so choose one or two poems structures that are very free form and do not require a certain number of syllables per line. If your students are quite advanced, you may consider more challenges poem structures. Ask students to write their own poems. You can even tie this in with another topic by asking students to write poems about spring, trees, or Easter but this can also make the activity more challenging. At the end of class ask students to volunteer to read their poems aloud and give them some feedback.
Arbor Day is observed by a number of countries under a variety of names and in completely different months. In the United States it is the last Friday of April. Use this as a chance to discuss topics such as the disappearing rainforest with advanced learners and the many benefits of trees with beginner and intermediate students. If you would like to talk about poetry too, read “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein and discuss the story with your students.
These are just a few lesson ideas for the month of April (see more here: April worksheets). There are a lot of other special days in this month too including some famous birthdays. Depending on the age of your students and their interests, you might consider discussing other topics with them instead of the ones included here. April has so much to offer in terms of lesson topics; what you focus on is up to you.
Tara Arntsen has worked with English Language Learners of all ages for many years and has taught in Japan, Cambodia, and China as well as online. When she is not teaching, she enjoys cooking, traveling around the world, and scuba diving. She is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California.
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