When it comes to teaching EFL there’s always so much we can do to get our students to learn the language and at the same time experience a different culture, broaden their horizons and become more aware of global issues. So, I’ve decided to start a monthly post where I mention a list of ideas on topics which you might already be working/have worked on in November or even on ones you haven’t thought of working before! The list of activities you can see below involve both ideas for special days as well as more general November-related ideas.
(NOTE: If you’re looking for a more comprehensive list of ideas for special days in November, make sure you check out Michelle Henry’s special days page here. )
- Last-minute mystery Activities (Halloween): a) glue pictures of Halloween words (eg. pumpkins) in the middle of a piece of paper and ask your students to draw a Halloween world around them b) build team spirit by asking your kids to solve the mystery of the “Amazing Classmate”. Write down 4-8 get-to know-you questions and tell your students that they need to discover as much as they can about another classmate. The detective who has found the most wins the most candy! c) Famous ghosts: This is very similar to a “Guess who” game only that your students get to think of famous people who are no longer alive. d) Guess the spooky sound: Ask your students to record unusual and preferably spooky sounds using their mobile phones. Their classmates will have to describe what the sound is like and guess what it is. You can then extend this activity by asking them to write about what happened before and after the sound was heard.
- From light to dark (Diwali): Ask your students to find examples in different cultures, films, songs where good and evil are represented by light and darkness respectively. An example I love using is of course Star Wars! Darth Vader is also a great character to work on if you’re interested in having a class discussion about how we can balance the light and darkness in us all.
- Weather and nature changes: Prepare a short list of statements about the weather (It feels…It smells…The sky looks…I feel….) and go on a short walk around your school or spend 5-10 mins in your school yard. Ask your kids to complete the sentences in their own words based on what they see around them. Repeat the activity around the end of November to see how the weather and nature has changed.
- Five senses and cooking: November is the month of chestnuts, pumpkins, beets, carrots and so many other delicious vegetables. Prepare a simple November dish like a pumpkin soup or ask your students to prepare different dishes using seasonal vegetables and fruit and then practise describing what they look, smell and taste like in class.
- My food memories – November fruits and vegetables: If the five senses activity isn’t feasible where you teach you could also bring in pieces of November fruits and vegetables. Then, ask your students to close their eyes and taste the different types of food. Once they’re done, they should share what the different foods remind them of or what memories they have associated them with.
- Jar of kindness (World Kindness Day ): Bring an empty glass or plastic jar in class and tell your students that this will be their own Jar of Good Deeds. Every time your students come in clas hand out sticky notes and ask them to write down one good thing they’ve done for someone else that day. You can keep the jar throughout the year or at least until the end of November.
- The shades of November: As November marks the transition from autumn to winter nature itself provides us with the chance to introduce our students to all those wonderful darker shades of their favorite colors. It’s the perfect time to build their color vocabulary and ask them to spot bordeaux, beige, bottle green and copper!
- What do I need to feel…? (International day of Children’s Rights): Ask your students to brainstom different adjectives that could be used to complete the question above (happy, safe, proud etc.). Then, in teams students create their own lists of things adults should do to ensure children feel safe, happy etc.
- A box of gratitude / The story of Squanto (Thanksgiving): Bring a ceral or shoe box and fill it with your students thank you notes about people/experiences they’re thankful for. Apart from talking about gratitude, on Thanksgiving I also prefer to work more on Native American tribes, their stories and look at their history and suffering together with my classes.
- Raise students’ awareness: Wikipedia has a long list of November observances which you can use to make your students more aware of important issues. Bonfire Night for example could be a great introduction to the International Day for Tolerance since you could ask your students to think of groups of people who are marginalised or persecuted for their religion, race or political beliefs nowadays and ask them to create posters in class on how we can all embrace diversity. One of the issues I’m also planning to work on this year is how we can defy gender-based stereotypes in relation to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. We will work on different ads and commercials to see how women in particular are portrayed and suggest ways to stop objectifying women.
That’s all for now, everyone! Happy teaching month! 🙂