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Christmas Lesson: Letters to Santa
This lesson culminates in students practising writing letters to Santa Claus (or Father Christmas), cutting them out in the shape of their hands, and making a 'Christmas Tree' from the 'leaves'.
Though for lower levels this will likely be the first time they've been asked to write in English, most, if not all students should be able to write 'Santa', as well as their own names, and draw a picture of what they'd like for Christmas. Older levels (from about 5th grade on) should be able to write the whole thing, and look up the name of the thing they'd like in a dictionary, or ask a teacher.
Warm up game
Though you can focus on the Christmas tree for the majority of the lesson, you may want to spend the first half of the lesson introducing and practising the grammar point, as well as some Christmas-related vocab that the kids will need to use.
Attached to this lesson are some flash cards with a collection of vocabulary related to Christmas, including reindeer, Santa Claus, video game, gloves/mittens, doll/action figure, candy cane, Christmas tree, bicycle, soft toy/teddy bear, star, snowman, and turkey. Many of these students will have heard before (glove from baseball, turkey from USJ), some you can challenge them to figure out (snowman, Christmas tree, soft toy), while some will be a challenge (reindeer, the pronunciation of video game).
Though there are a variety of card games you can play to practice, a variation of the Life Game proved successful:
- Students each receive 5 cards (make sure you have enough for this: 16 sets of 12 cards will cover 38 students).
- Students find someone to janken with; the loser becomes 'Santa'.
- Santa asks "What do you want (for Christmas)?", and displays their cards.
- The winner of janken answers "I want ~ .", and received a card from Santa.
- Students part ways and find someone else to play with.
- If any one student runs out of cards, they may approach the teacher and ask for "2 cards, please." Make sure you've some spares if you use this rule.
- After 5 minutes or so, whoever has the most cards may receive a 'prize'. Being allowed to wear a Santa reindeer hat for the rest of the lesson works well for younger kids. Use whichever award system you like otherwise.
Though you may play this twice, be warned that the final tree making will likely necessitate at least 15–20 minutes.
Making the tree
For this activity, each student receives a hand-sized piece of coloured card. For younger students (ES 3–4), depending on ability) you should pre-print "To", "I want", and "From" where the 'palm' of the hand will be.
One eighth of the large coloured sheets of card every school has is a perfect size (around 15×20 cm, 5.5×7.5 inches). Use a variety of different colours, though you may want to use largely shades of green, and Christmassy colours such as red and gold so the tree looks more like a tree when you're done.
You'll also need on of the large, thin sheets you can find at every school (preferable green). These are around 1m by 1.5 m (3 by 5 foot).
Pass out the cards, one to each student, and explain as follows:
- Trace your hand on the card (being sure to cover the pre-written text).
- Write who the letter is to, what you want (younger kids can draw this part, or write in Japanese), and who it's from. Emphasise the fact that Santa isn't very good at Japanese, so kids had better use English to be safe.
- Cut out the traced hand, glue the back, and bring it to the large paper you have at the front of the room to stick on.
- Students who finish first can use their left-over trimmings to create decorations. Bells, stars, snowmen, etc.
Once you've created the tree as a class, you can trim it into a tree-like shape. One large sheet should easily be able to contain a 40-student tree.
By 6th grade at elementary, students are already learning "I want to go to ~ .", so should have no problem with the grammar. Feel free to make it a bit harder for these kids.