Holiday Ideas for Your ESL School

5 Practical Activities for Harvest Time

    1. Fall is a great time to take your ESL students on a field trip. Just one class could go or your entire ESL School. Consider going to an apple orchard and picking apples, or going to a pumpkin patch and picking pumpkins. You could all go back to the church for a chili dinner and have a pumpkin carving contest.
    2. Have a “cooking class” during your regular class time in your church’s kitchen or at another time in a teacher’s home. You could teach them to bake an apple pie or roast a turkey or make some other fall comfort food popular in your area of the country.

  1. Does your church have a Fall Festival? Ask your students to contribute to the festival with booths that introduce their home countries and cultures. Additionally, your ESL Ministry could have a booth – maybe a corn hole game using a map of the world – that would advertise your ESL Classes to internationals in your community that come to the festival for fun.
  2. Create lesson plans that include fall vocabulary – i.e. pumpkin patch, hay ride, maple syrup.
  3. Include fall favorites during snack time: candied apples, candy corn, etc…


4 Practical Activities for Thanksgiving

  1. Teach about the first Thanksgiving in your ESL Classes. Teach about the faith of the Pilgrims. Talk about “who” they were thankful to that first Thanksgiving.  Children’s books can be a great tool (i.e. Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas).
  2. Host a Thanksgiving Party/Dinner for your entire ESL School. It can be held a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving so it doesn’t interfere with your volunteers’ holiday schedules. Click here for suggestions.
  3. At a party or at break time, have the teachers perform a play about the first Thanksgiving. Click here for a downloadable PDF.
  4. Individual volunteers or others from your congregation can invite ESL students and their  families to their homes for Thanksgiving Dinner with their own families.

Throw a holiday party. Click here for suggestions.

Put on a play. Click here for a downloadable PDF. This play is one way to teach your international students the story of Thanksgiving. It is designed to reach students at a beginner level of English. It will have more impact if it is done by teachers that the students already know. I encourage you to have at least minimal costumes. This could be done during break time on a regular school night or at a special party or dinner celebrating Thanksgiving. It was written by Julie Baugh, MNA ESL Trainer. of the play.

5 Christmas Activities for the ESL Classroom

Read a book together. Born on Christmas Morn is a great book to give to your ESL students at Christmas time. It’s a children’s book by Arch Books and can be purchased through Christian Book Distributors (about $2 a piece). The pictures are beautiful, and the wording is not too hard. But the best part is that it doesn’t end with the birth of Christ. It ends with his death and resurrection.

Invite your students into your home. Eighty-five percent (85%) of your students have probably never been in an American home outside of their ethnic group when they first meet you. Christmas is a fabulous time to invite your students into your home. Your Christmas decorations will give you a reason to talk about the birth of Christ and why he came to Earth in the first place.

Teach the meaning behind the symbols of Christmas. Click here for a simple activity that introduces English learners to the Christmas story through traditional Christmas symbols such as the Christmas tree, wreaths, ornaments, and so on. Or show them The Symbols of Christmas PowerPoint Presentation.

Play the Right – Left Game. Click here for a fun and light-hearted gift-giving game to play at your Christmas party.

Study Christmas hymns.


Ideas for using Resurrection Eggs, Easter baskets, and more. Click here.

The Last Words of Christ Bible study