It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
…and we all could use some fresh, magical ideas for spreading Christmas cheer in our classrooms.
In other words, we need to entertain the masses who are chomping at the bit for Christmas break!
The lessons in this post will keep your students learning through Spanish Christmas carols, drawing activities, small group work and more.
Whether you just want to stir up some holiday spirit or you desperately need some ideas to actually keep students learning during those last crazy days before break, I’m serving up a week’s worth of lessons that are both entertaining and educational to keep everyone feeling cheery and bright.
The Importance of Integrating Holidays into the Spanish Classroom
Not convinced you should be celebrating Christmas in your classroom? Whether or not you personally celebrate Christmas, or any holiday for that matter, integrating holidays into your classroom is truly important.
Here are some great reasons to consider getting a little festive this year:
- It’s a monotony breaker. This one probably goes without saying, but we all need a little variety in our lives… especially if we’re in a classroom setting. Breaking up the everyday tasks and changing things up for a bit might be just what the doctor ordered to beat the boredom blues.
- It creates an opportunity to teach about cultures and customs. Each culture has its own set of traditions and customs—many of them related to holidays and cultural celebrations. It’s important that your Spanish students receive authentic cultural lessons in order to achieve a greater understanding of true Spanish-language culture. Holidays offer a great chance for students to see how people celebrate around the world and open their eyes to appreciating new traditions and customs.
- It’s a great reason to introduce new vocabulary. Let’s be honest, learning new vocabulary probably isn’t at the top of every student’s list of favorite things to do. Adding in some holiday-related vocabulary while using interesting new approaches can make vocab acquisition a more enjoyable task!
- It’s a chance to set aside curriculum and challenge yourself as a teacher. Even though you may love your Spanish curriculum, it’s always fun to take a break and try new things. Take a few days to set your curriculum to the side and use this holiday as an excuse to try out a new teaching method or practice.
5 Fun Spanish Lessons for Christmas
Lesson 1: Speak Up!
Objective: Get students speaking and listening to improve oral fluency.
- Download or create a bilingual Christmas booklet.
- Have some index cards ready.
- Introduction/warm-up: Have students make a bilingual Christmas booklet.
- Speaking activity: Using the bilingual booklet from above, learned vocabulary from previous lessons, lyrics from Christmas songs, etc., have students choose phrases and words and write them on an index card. Mix up the cards and put them in a bucket. Split the class into two groups and play a simple version of the game “Taboo” with the cards.
How to play the speaking activity: One student will come to the front and choose a word. They will then have one minute to try to describe that word (in Spanish!) to their team without using hand motions. If their team guesses the correct answer, the student can continue to pick words until the time runs out.
The player’s team will receive a point for each word they guessed correctly. If the time runs out and the team hasn’t guessed the right answer, the opposing team will be allowed to guess for that card and receive the point. To make the game challenging, subtract points for students who slip up and use English.
Lesson 2: Prove You Understand!
Objective: Improve reading and/or listening comprehension.
- Choose a Christmas song to teach the class.
- Create printouts of black and white Christmas trees and snowmen with or without instructions (see activity below).
- Print out a cierto o falso (true or false) sheet for students with or without questions (see activity below).
- Introduction/warm-up: Teach the class a new Christmas song.
- Reading or listening comprehension activity: Print out black and white outlines of Christmas trees and snowmen on a sheet of paper. For reading comprehension practice, write out decorating instructions below each outline. For listening comprehension practice, don’t include written directions, but instead read the instructions for each image. Show pictures of correct images at the end of the activity and see how many students could prove they understood.
This page shows some examples of instructions you can have students read or read aloud.
- True or false Christmas quiz: Print out a sheet of paper where students can either circle cierto (true) or falso (false). For reading comprehension practice, write Christmas statements out in Spanish for students to determine whether they are correct or not. For listening comprehension practice, read the sentences aloud and have students circle true or false. Compare answers at the end.
The sentences can be about anything Christmas-related: Baby Jesus’s mother’s name was Mother Teresa. False. The traditional Christmas colors are red and green. True.
Homework or small group work: Give students the opportunity to create their own instructions for decorating trees/snowmen, and to come up with festive true/false statements to test fellow classmates.
Lesson 3: Deck the Halls!
Objective: Practice new vocabulary and encourage retention.
- Print out a Christmas light cutout on colored pieces of paper and write a new Christmas vocabulary word on each light.
- Print out a copy of “‘Twas the Noche Before Christmas” for each student.
- Introduction/warm-up: Play a quick Spanish vocab game, using Christmas vocabulary.
- Vocabulary activity: Give each student a Christmas light cutout with a different Christmas vocabulary word on it. Have students find out what their word means and draw a picture of it on the cutout. Once finished, go around the room and have the students quickly present their words and their meanings. Hang the “lights” on a string around the room.
Have the students choose five of the words from the string of lights and write a complete sentence for each of them.
Homework or small group work: Pass out a copy of “‘Twas the Noche Before Christmas” and have students highlight and write the meaning above any Spanish word from the poem.
Lesson 4: Dear Santa…
Objective: Encourage and improve writing fluency.
- Prepare a Spanish Christmas vocab list.
- Get some index cards.
- Introduction/warm-up: Play a review game with new Christmas vocabulary. Split the class into two groups. Bring up a student from each group and say a new vocab word. The first student to hit their buzzer (or smack the table) has the first chance to guess the meaning.
- Writing activity: Have students write a letter to Santa in Spanish describing what they would like for Christmas and why. Write new Christmas vocab on the board and ask students to include at least five new vocab words in their letter.
If there’s time, give each student an index card and ask them to write a sentence about their most-desired gift. Collect the cards and mix them up. Then have students pick a card, read it aloud and try to guess which classmate wrote the card they picked.
Homework or small group work: Have students interview a family member or classmate about what they want for Christmas and write it out.
Lesson 5: Christmas Cultural Mashup!
Objective: Learn about Christmas traditions from different Spanish-speaking countries.
- Choose a Spanish Christmas picture book to share.
- Prepare books and materials for student cultural presentations.
- Introduction/warm-up: Read a Spanish Christmas picture book.
- Cultural activity: Split the class into small groups and have them each pick a different Spanish-speaking country. Ask the students to research their country’s Christmas traditions and customs using the computer or books. Ask students to choose one tradition that they found particularly interesting and plan to present it to the class in an interesting way (i.e., a poster, a skit, a traditional dance, etc.).
Give each group time to present their interesting tradition to the class.
Homework or small group work: Have students write in Spanish about a tradition their family practices during the holidays.
I hope these lessons bring a little festivity and a lot of learning to your classroom this holiday season.
Once you’ve done these lessons and owned your Christmas classroom like a boss, you can pop in a good old Spanish Christmas movie, kick your feet up and enjoy winter break!
Tricia Wegman Contreras has spent the last seven years in Costa Rica working as a bilingual Learning Specialist with students of all ages. She enjoys using her background as an Intervention Specialist to help all types of language learners succeed.
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