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Christmas activities to keep students engaged and learning

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Christmas is just around the corner, exams have finished but classes still go on… Make the most of the class time left with a Christmas activity or two…

Activity 1

I adapted the following activity from a blog post I read a couple of years ago on elt sparks.  The activity is based on a Christmas ad for H&M by the director Wes Anderson. My students were really struggling with the past tenses (past simple, past continuous and past perfect) and needed more practice.  I decided to use a narrative (the advert) to facilitate understanding and provide further practice. 

The advert tells the story of some passengers who are stuck on a train after bad weather and mechanical difficulties cause the train to be delayed.  This delay means they will miss Christmas with their families. The conductor and his assistant decide to organise a Christmas brunch in the cafeteria for all their passengers to make them feel better and they have an ingenious idea to execute their plan…

For this activity you need:


  1. Introduce the main character and build up curiosity….
  2. Who is he?  What is his job?  How does he feel? Why?
  3. Give the background to the story.  They train is delayed and the passengers won’t arrive in time for Christmas
  4. Give students the rest of the story and ask them to put it into the correct order (if the events happen at the same time they should go side by side)
  5. Before watching the advert, students predict why the conductor asks for materials…
  6. Watch the advert and make any changes to the order.  Was the prediction correct? (He asks for material to decorate the cafeteria for a makeshift party for his passengers)
  7. Using the cut ups as a visual aid (what happened first, at the same time, before another action…) complete the gap fill activity, putting the verbs into the correct tense.

The follow up activity, I copied from elt sparks… A great idea!

  1. Discuss what “makeshift” means
  2. Students imagine there has been a snowstorm and they are trapped in the school for Christmas. They have to organise a makeshift Christmas party using only materials and resources available in the school building.
  3. Students present their party idea to the rest of the class who vote for the most creative and original one.

As well as practising grammar, this activity provides an opportunity to develop skills such as communication, collaboration and creativity.

Activity 2

Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a song…

This activity focuses on vocabulary, language structure, pronunciation at word level and meaning.

The song Christmas Lights by Coldplay talks about a broken relationship and we get an insight into the narrator’s feelings about this, especially poignant as it is Christmas time.


  1. Before listening, in pairs/small groups, students read the lyrics and predict the missing words.  They should think about which part of speech is missing, and if it is a verb, put it into the correct tense.  Most of the missing words rhyme with a word from the same section of the song which can help students to come up with a word and then test it for meaning.  Does it make sense?
  2. Next students listen to the song and check their answers.  When checking answers there is some interesting vocabulary and expressions you might want to highlight and explore further e.g to right a wrong, keep on (doing something)…
  3. Students watch the video and sing along / find words beginning with certain letters or any other activity which engages them while watching.

As a  follow up activity, students can discuss some of the following points:

  • Why do you think the couple have broken up? What did they fight about?
  • Where has she gone?
  • Do you think she will come back?
  • Have you ever felt like the narrator?  
  • In the song, the narrator says I took my feet / To Oxford Street / Trying to right a wrong.”  Do you think it is a good idea to buy someone something to right a wrong?
  • What other ways are there to “right a wrong”?
  • Have you ever had to “right a wrong”?

Finally, you could incorporate a role-play activity. Students imagine the conversation the couple had before she went and act out the dialogue for their classmates.  

These activities don’t just fill in time at the end of term, as well as providing opportunities for revising, recycling and learning new vocabulary and grammar structures, they also provide a springboard for more communicative, collaborative and creative tasks.

Check out some other festive activities I’ve used to keep students engaged and learning right up until the final bell…

3 ways to practise grammar at Christmas

Christmas…time for a song!

Merry Christmas and  a Happy New Year!

Author: lisajwood

I am an English language coach and Neurolanguage Coach® I current teach adolescents and adults. My areas of interest include brain-friendly learning, flipped learning, student-centred learning and promoting lifelong learning skills. I am also a keen advocate of using new technologies to facilitate the learning process.

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