With the onset of the new year comes a reminder that winter is just beginning.
Whether there is snow on the ground or just a chill in the air, it is time to pack on some layers and snuggle up with a warm cup of hot chocolate. So on those days when you just want to enjoy some warm fuzzies with your class, try one of the following winter themed lessons.
Winter ESL Activities To Try
What activities can you do in winter that you cannot do at other times in the year? Some of your students may struggle with this question if they come from areas of the world where winter does not include snow and ice. Still, challenge your students to brainstorm a list of all the activities that bring a fun feel to the cold weather. You will want to list items like build a snowman, ice-skate and go sledding. If your students get stuck, encourage them to think of the winter sports that are showcased in the winter Olympics.
Then ask by a show of hands how many people have done each of the activities. Ask volunteers to talk about the experience or share stories. For those students who have not done each of the activities, ask if they would like to do them and to speculate on what it might be like. If you want to treat your class to a little winter fun and you have the resources, let them try their hand at the Wii game Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games.
A Sense of Winter
Winter is unlike any other season. The cold feels different. The snow looks different. The wildlife sounds different. Even what we eat tastes different. All this change, though, is a good excuse to add to your students’ vocabularies. Either working in groups or as an entire class, ask your students to take a sheet of paper and divide it into five columns. At the top of each column, write one of the following senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. Then take each sense one at a time and brainstorm a list of words that can be used to describe what is special about winter. For sight, your students may say that the snow is white, unblemished, pure, glistening, sparkly or any of many other adjectives. You can encourage your students to use a thesaurus to find additional words or even use a dictionary. List as many words that have to do with sight as possible before moving on to the next sense; then do the same for sound, smell, taste and touch. Once your class has five lists of descriptive words, it is time to put them to use. Ask each person to write a description of a winter activity that she has done using as many of the sensory words the class compiled as possible. The goal is to describe in such detail that the reader feels as though he is present. As they write, your students should include descriptive words that connect with each of the five senses, and they should aim to use more specific descriptions.
If your students are new to winter and have not done one of the winter specific activities, ask them to write about an activity that they would like to try and to write about how they think it would feel.
Your students have listed activities unique to winter and they have written about them descriptively, now it is time to see how others have written about the season. Give your students a collection of poems about winter. You can use this selection or provide them with others that you like. Take turns reading one line at a time of each poem. As you do, your students will get a feel for the rhythm of the words and the lines. Move around the classroom taking one line per person and stopping to discuss each poem after it is read. You may want to ask your students to share how the poem made them feel and what they pictured in their minds as they listened. Also, as your students read, ask them to underline or copy certain phrases or lines that stick out to them. They might stand out because of unexpected use of English or simply because the lines are likable. Then have your students copy those lines onto large strips of paper and post on a bulletin board with the title “Winning Winter Words”. You can also invite them to illustrate the lines they have chosen and post them as well.
Winter is a special time of year. The holidays come and go, but the brisk air of a chilly world sticks around until spring can no longer hold herself back.
As you go through the winter months this year, why not take some time with your class to experience all the special qualities that winter has to offer.
There may never be a better time than now.