Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Making the most of a Christmas story - an idea for YL

I was honoured to be invited by OUP again to do a workshop on teaching YL at the Christmas conference. As I promised to many participants and people from my PLN, in this post I'd like to share the materials of this workshop with the hope that you'll be able to use/adapt them for your own groups too.

In this workshop I decided to use something that would be of immediate value, something that teachers can take away and use next day with their classes, as well as something that gives them an adaptable framework to exploit stories in the classroom.

I am particularly interested in bringing in children's creativity in the learning as much as possible, making sure they have plenty of opportunities to talk about and express themselves using different types of activities: from talking about personal experiences to acting out a story in their own versions, re-animating, for example Santa into a grumpy old man through drama activities.

My other aim was to show teachers different techniques of how they could gently introduce the reading skill, without focusing on spelling as a first step, which in my experience is still the case in many schools.

So these aims set me off in search for a Christmasy picture story, and the only one I could find under the time pressure was an old handout, a photocopy of a picture story I couldn't work the source from at the time - see picture story embedded below. Doing a bit more digging this weekend I found out that it must have been a picture story published by Heinemann: 100 ideas + - most probably out of print. I'm not even sure if this is the right title of the book, so if you happen to knwo the exact title, please let me know.

I just wanted to make sure that I post this lesson with the materials letting all of you know the source of the picture story. The lines of the story were made up by me to suit the level of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th grader in Hungary, and also easily adaptable to higher levels.

During both workshops we had some serious fun with the teachers, although in the first group there were abot 50 or so teachers, in a classroom big enough for max 30 people, which shot my adrenalin high-up, as you can imagine.

Hope you will enjoy using these materials as well, and please let me know if you have any questions about the procedure, the material or the activities.

Have fun!
Bringing Xmas Into the Clss-framwork


  1. Something I forgot from the post: an important note to make if you use this lesson with false beginners, i.e. a class of 2nd or 3rd graders who just started studying English this September (once a week):
    At the stage of ticking the correct box next to the pictures (see reading HO), it's very important that the T reads the lines of the story one by one, kids follow and so tick the box next to the appropriate picture.

    I have also received a lot of feedback via e-amail on the use of and adaptation of the above materials. However, I would very much encourage everyone who tried it out to share their ideas/findings through a comment here. This would make it possible for all the readers of this blog to learn and reflect.

  2. Ma egy kis elsős csoporttal volt órám (már az oviban többségük angolozott velem) és a képek segítségével és mozdulatokkal,gesztusokkal elmeséltem/eljátszottam nekik a történetet. Mondhatom jó nagy nevetést váltott ki a dolog. (Bár lehet, hogy csak én mutattam furán a Mikulás sapkában) Idő hiányában csak azt a jelenetet játszottuk el, mikor a gyerekek húzzák a Mikulást. Ezt választottam ki, mert ezzel tudtuk kicsit gyakorolni a számolást: a 10. húzásra sikerült is kirángatniuk engem a kéményből!Nagyon jól sikerült az óra a 3. osztállyal. Nagyon tetszett nekik minden, vidámak és ügyesek voltak. A dal nehéz volt számukra, ezt gondoltam is. Azt is tudtam, hogy nem fog beleférni az órába, hogy rendesen megtanítsam nekik. Ezért mást találtam ki:kétszer meghallgattuk és azt a feladatot kapták, hogy a 3. hallgatásnál minél több szót próbáljanak meg felismerni, megjegyezni. Ez nagyon tetszett nekik és ügyesen megtalálták a történetből és a képekről ismerős szavakat.

    ajénlon mindenkinek, hoyg próbálja ki az anyagot. Nagyon szórakoztató és hasznos órát tud vele varázsolni a gyerkeknek!

  3. I'm replying, Kati, in English, so that a wider audience understands it as well. I was the one who asked you to copy your comments and ideas about how you used this material with your beginner 1st graders and your 3rd graders.

    I'm so glad you managed to adapt with so creatively for different age-groups and levels, and loads of thank on behalf of the English teachers who are going to read your comment and learn from it.

    (I wouldn't worry about typos. Check out my previous posts how many tpypos are there. Just don't have the time to go always go back and correct them.)

    Thanks a lot, Kati!

  4. Hello dear Erika,

    Thank you very much for sharing such wonderful lesson ideas and a ready-to-use plan of action.

    Christmas is just around the corner. Though we celebrate Christmas in Russia much much later on 7 January, I usually have a couple of lessons devoted to Christmas celebrations in Europe.

    I teach adults but I think this Christmas picture story will work well with my Elementary-level students as they really enjoy reading children's stories. (I am a fan of Cbeebies bedtime stories :) and use them sometimes.

    I think I'm going to do, apart from getting my students to sequence pictures in their own order, a running dictation and probably some acting out :)

    There is a very good website which I love using for my Christmas lessons and this is http://www.santasearch.org/index.asp

    I think writing letters to Santa will be especially popular with kids. I also love their collection of songs and poems and my favourite is Santa's Journal.

    Warm wishes from Moscow
    Elfina (dolphin_fin in Twitter :)

  5. Thank you, Elfina, for your ideas on how you could use it with elementary level adults. As in Russia Christmas is celebrated in January, maybe it gives you a good opportunity to compare traditions in the two cultures. Although, Christmas is celebrated on 24th December here in Hungary, there are a lot of differences and the kids in my classes really enjoyed talking about it.

    Hope to hear from you how it went!

  6. As it was late in the evening I forgot, to thank you Elfina, for the webiste, plus the great ideas with using the running dictation, writing letters and Santa's Journal.

    All of these are wonderful activities to engage learners and have some fun while studying English.

    Warm wishes from Budapest.


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