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fun tefl lessons

5 Fun TEFL Lessons using The Night Before Christmas


holiday tefl


With the holiday season in full swing, why not take some time out to share the beloved The Night Before Christmas poem with your students?  We developed these 5 fun TEFL lessons using this lighthearted Christmas classic just for you! 


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English learners want to communicate in English. An important part of communication is understanding where the other person is coming from. To do that, you have to understand their culture. The Night Before Christmas explains a secular Christmas Eve tradition, especially popular in the USA- the delivering of toys by Santa and his flying reindeer. Students can learn about your culture while having fun practicing their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills at the same time.   


Before the Lesson


~Gather Materials~

Get a copy of The Night Before Christmas Poem, written by Clement Clarke Moore, a New Yorker, for his children, almost 200 years ago.

Find the audio selection of the poem. This version, on youtube, read by Charlie Rose, is great because the illustrations aid in students’ understanding. If you prefer, there’s an audio selection without images.

Pull up some photo images from the Internet: Santa, St. Nicholas, reindeer, sleigh, stockings, chimney, beard, lawn, fur, kerchief


~Consider Creating Resources~

If you want, you can create True/False and gap fill (fill-in-the blank) worksheets, or, you can simply write statements on the board or online.


~Getting Started~

Since Christmas is such a well-known holiday around the world, start out by asking students what they already know about it. Maybe some of them even celebrate it in some fashion or another.  

Share items such as a stocking or toys and photos of Santa, a sleigh, reindeer, and a chimney. Point out some fun facts. For example, in the USA folks say, “Have a Merry Christmas!” while it’s popular to say “Have a Happy Christmas!” in the UK. Also, sometimes we write Christmas like X-mas.  

Clear up any confusion by pointing out that the names St. Nicholas and Santa Claus are often used interchangeably. Also, the night before Christmas is known as Christmas Eve.  

Finally, share that even though many Western countries celebrate this Christian holiday, it is celebrated a little differently in each country. 

Note: This is a poem. Poems are notoriously difficult for English learners to understand. Don’t worry if students struggle with phrases like “visions of sugar plums danced in their heads”. The key is for them to understand that on the night before Christmas, Santa comes to children’s homes in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer to deliver the gifts. 

Now let’s jump into these 5 fun TEFL lessons based on this holiday classic!


Lesson Idea #1: Read to find the main idea and details in the poem

  • Hand out the poem or display it online.  
  • Keep in mind, students comprehend best when they have multiple opportunities to read the same text for different reasons.  
  • First, they can take a minute to skim the poem for the main idea. You can ask, “What’s this poem about?”  
  • Then, they can scan the poem to answer Y/N or open-ended questions (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How) You can put these on the board.  
  • Finally, they can read the poem one last time to find details and can complete a T/F worksheet.


Lesson Idea #2: Listen to find the details in the audio version of the poem

  • Students can initially listen to the poem to get the gist or the main idea.
  • They can listen a second time to answer broad, open-ended questions. 
  • Finally, they can listen a third time for details and perhaps complete a gap fill worksheet.  


tefl writing


Lesson Idea #3: Write a summary of the poem using sequence words

  • After listening to and watching the youtube version of the poem, partners can describe what happens in the poem. Encourage them to use sequence words like First, Next, Then, Finally, and After that. You could write these on the board, along with any vocabulary words they might want to spell.  
  • Then, students can write out the story in five or six sentences, adding pictures if they’d like.  
  • If time allows, they can exchange papers to edit. You can put a few editing guidelines on the board.  
  • Finally, students can rewrite their papers and share positive feedback.


Lesson Idea #4: Interview Santa using Past Tense Verbs 

whistled, shouted, called, *knew, *flung, *heard, laughed, *saw, gave, had, *flew

  • Hand out the poem and review it by reading it aloud.  
  • Remind students that verbs can be regular or irregular. Regular verbs end in -ed and irregular verbs have a completely different spelling.  
  • They can work in pairs or small groups to circle or highlight past tense verbs.  
  • You can review them as a class and create a word bank on the board.  
  • Then, students can practice pronouncing the verbs.
  • Finally, students can create questions and interview each other using the verbs. One person is the interviewer and the other is the narrator of the poem. (Interviewer: What was it like when you surprised Santa?  What did you see?) 


Lesson Idea #5: Role-Play Santa getting caught filling stockings by the poem’s narrator 

Pre-select vocabulary words from the poem: stockings, sleigh, chimney, creature, nestled, clatter, sprang, appear, reindeer, beard, lawn, driver, porch, fur, bundle, cheeks, elf

    • Review or play the audio of the poem. Use real objects and photos to clarify meanings of the words.  
    • Students can match words to photos, or work in partners to define words.
    • Next, they can do a gap fill/fill-in-the-blank worksheet with a word bank.
    • Then, in partners, students can create questions the narrator of the poem might have asked Santa using vocabulary words.
    • Finally, partners can role-play Santa being surprised by the narrator in the poem.  
  • Narrator: What are you doing, elf with a beard?
  • Santa: I’m filling the stockings with toys.
  • Narrator: Where are your reindeer?
  • Santa: They are behind the sleigh, on the lawn.


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We hope these 5 fun TEFL lessons add a little holiday cheer to your classroom!


If you need help getting TEFL certified in the new year, send us a note at [email protected] or check out our FREE 2-Day TEFL taster!


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