The Night Before Christmas is classic tale of magic, expectation and dreams. The book that I have comes from London, one of my my very best friends gave it to me last year, and it’s the one illustrated by Eric Puybaret, which I find amazing for its gorgeous pictures and the enclosed audio cd. Here is the Amazon link if you wish to purchase the storybook and here the DVD cartoon.
While reading the story, the children were free to touch the flashcards with the related words once they heard them from the story. We paused the reading many times to engage the children in different TPR (total physical response) exercises, like pretending to be Santa and driving the sleigh and then tiptoeing until the Christmas tree to put the presents under, and making questions like: “Can you spot all the toys?” In this way, learners are engaged until the end of the story even though they cannot understand all the words.
LEAD-IN / INTRODUCTION
We got the children closing their eyes and listen to the silence while starting reading “Twas he night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” We asked children: “What to do you feel?”, “How do you think the night before Xmas is?”, “How do you wait for Christmas?” “What do you usually do the night before Xmas?”
FLASCHCARDS/ PRE-TEACHING VOCABULARY
Before reading the story we pre-taught some very important key-words, given that the text is not very simple for learners of English as a second language. We decided to focus on the physical description of Santa, including the twinkle in his eyes, the cherry nose, the cheeks like roses, the white beard and the jelly belly. Download them here.
We brought a simple brown pillow case to use as a magic sack for that day’s activities. We put inside the flashcards, a button and some white cotton to let them guess which craft we were going to do and a dice for the game. Each time, we pulled out the different objects with suspance and had them make predictions on the activity.
ROLL SANTA GAME
This one was a funny and entertaining game. Children had to roll the dice and figure out if they could dress their Santa or not, depending on the number of the dice. Read more about it here.
CRAFT: NEW CLOTHES FOR SANTA
With the paper Santa that they had been playing for a while, they had to design new clothes for Santa. Children had at their disposal different kinds of materials, like feathers, fabric, wrapping paper of different patters, buttons, cotton, wool, ribbons, threads and glitter. They went completely crazy and used their imagination at best!
THE ELF’S SCHOOL: THE INTERVIEW ROLE-PLAY
Given that children enjoyed very much their new clothes for Santa, we decided to give them an opportunity to dispaly them in a role-play game, in which a girl was the journalist and the others were elves displaying their new clothes and why Santa should have chosen their new clothes. It’s been so great to see how they were able to describe the kind of material they used, naming the parts of the body and piece of clothes, and all in a meaningful context. Once we recorded them, we had them sitting and watching themselves, spotting mistakes, laughing and appreciating what they did.
THE CARTOON – WORKING WITH AUTHENTIC MATERIAL
Even though our children were learning English as a second language, we decided to show them the original cartoon, not semplified, but with real speeches and a different English accent. It’s important for the teachers to reassure the children that it doesn’t matter if they don’t understand something,Teachers can instead give the children reasonable questions at their level and details to spot and find out during watching the movie, e.g.: “Can you tell me if the book and cartoon are excactly the same or they are different? If yes, why?”
Giving the children achievable aims to reach will let the children feel proud of themselves and more self-confident.
MAP THE FLASHCARDS AROUND THE BUILDING
We attached the 12 today’s key-word flashcards all around the 4 storey building, on the doors, under the stairs, on the walls, on the floor and provided children with a sheet of paper and a pencil. We asked them: ” There are flashcards all around the building. You have to map the flashcards, drawing the whole building and the going around, discovering the FC, and write them down on your map. When you finish, compare it with others and see if something is missing.”
DECORATE THE CHRISTMAS TREE – COMMON PROJECT
We thought about some sort of common project for thechildren to build throughout this camp, whenever they had time and feel like to decorate. We decided for a Xmas tree, and children have been super creative with the decorations. They were free to create everything with any material, and this was a great boost for their imagination. Today they’ve created:
-Toilet paper roll Reindeers
-Pine cones, leaves and nature fantasy decorations.
At the end of the day we asked children: “What did you like most of today?” They shared about the elf’s school interview and the map of the flashcards game around the building.
If you have experienced other ideas, activities and games, text us below, leave a comment and share it with us!