Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Christmas is a great time to learn some music and have fun learning to read and write.  Santa Claus is Coming to Town is great, because aside from it being fun, most of the language is pretty simple and easy to explain using pictures or miming.  This is also a great opportunity for the kids to get some reading and writing in since they already know the vocabulary.

We played Sentence Scramble and Dictation – 2 fun games that require movement and if played in teams, requires team work.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town dictationTo play Sentence Scramble:

  • print out a copy of the lyrics.
  • cut each sentence into strips and then cut (separate) each word
  • take 9 envelopes and label them 1 to 9 (use pens the same color as the sentences, that way if any of the words gets lost or mixed up, you know which envelope it goes into) and put 1 sentence in per envelope

Sentence Scramble requires 6 or less players or 6 or less teams.  Each team or player will need 1 pencil and 1 sheet of paper.  Place envelopes at the front of the room.

Object of the game:  to be the first person to unscramble all the sentences.

Rules when playing with individual players:  1. each player should run up and grab and envelope (not necessarily in numerical order) 2. write down the number on the envelope, open it and unscramble the sentence (if the kids have problems, I hum the song for them) 3. write the sentence correctly and then show the teacher 4. if the sentence is correct, he/she should put the sentence back into the envelope and grab another one and unscramble the next sentence.

Rules for playing in teams:  1. have teams sit together.  2. Assign a team member to be the runner and to be a writer.  3. On go, the runners run and get the envelope, the whole team works together to unscramble the sentence 4. the writer writes the sentence correctly and shows it to the teacher.  5. if the sentence is correct, the runner puts the sentence back into the envelope and a new runner and writer are assigned and the game goes on until all the envelopes are unscrambled.  The first team to unscramble all the sentences wins.

To play Dictation:

  • print a copy of the lyrics
  • cut each sentence into strips

Dictation is best played in 6 or fewer teams.  Each team will need 1 pencil and eraser and 1 sheet of paper.  Tape each sentence face down (or face up on a table, but in a way that the teams can’t see what is written).

Rules when playing with individual players:  1. each team is assigned a Writer and the rest of the team members are Runners (keep groups small or too many kids will be running around) 2. the Runners run up to a sentence, memorize it and how it is spelled, runs back to the writer and dictates the sentence.  3.The Writer writes down the sentence and the Runners must run back and forth making sure the sentence is correct, including spelling. 4. when a team is finished, the writer shows the sentence to a teacher, if the sentence is correct, someone else becomes the Writer and the game keeps going until all the sentences are written down.  The first team to correctly dictate and write down the sentences wins. The sentences should always stay at the front of the room and the pencils and papers should always stay with the writers (sometimes the kids try and cheat and bring these things together, but that really defeats the point of the game, doesn’t it 🙂

This game can also be played with individual players, each player must leave the sheet of paper at his/her desk. First he/she runs and memorize as much of a sentence as possible, runs back and writes it down.  Word order and spelling must be correct.

These two games can be played with more than just songs, you can create your own by using text from stories, when learning grammar or for just about anything you want.

A Christmas Tree Craft For Your Crafty Christmas Tree

IMG_2365Just in time for Christmas, another decoration for your tree – and you can recycle to boot!

4 pics1. Supplies:

  • recycled wrapping paper, newspapers or magazines cut into 1 cm x 5 cm strips
  • glue
  • scissors
  • 1/2 circle cut out of construction paper (about15 diameter)
  • yarn


  • yellow paper for a star
  • glitter

Step 2: Glue half circle into cone shape.  Squirt a line of glue along the bottom ridge and stick the strips of paper (decorated side down) onto the cone.

Step 3:  Once you have covered the whole bottom part of the cone with strips of paper, put another line of glue on the cone, just above the strips of paper.  Now, pull the strips of paper up and glue down (will form a loop shape).

Step 4: Keep on gluing the tiers of loops until you’ve covered the whole cone.

Step 5:  Tie a short length of yarn into a loop and poke the yarn out of the top of the tree.  (Make sure you tie a big enough knot so that the yarn doesn’t slip out).


Step 6: Cut out 2 small stars, put some on some glue, sandwich the yarn and the tip of the tree between the 2 stars and glue closed.  This will help fix the yarn to the tree and keep it from slipping out.

Step 7: Add on your decorations.  We hole punched some sparkly craft foam and glued them on.  You could also put dots of  onto the ‘branches’ and sprinkle on some glitter.

You are finished -now you have a really cool tree to hang on your Christmas tree.

The Jacket I Wear In the Snow

The Jacket I Wear in the Snow is a fun and different way to learn all about winter clothes.  It is a sweet story and kids of all English levels can understand and relate to it – who hasn’t had to put on layers and layers of clothing just to play out in the snow? The pages are filled with has bright colorful pictures that are repeated again and again, so the vocabulary is easy to learn and a great way to memorize!

Just reading a story isn’t enough, a fun way to reinforce the vocabulary is to put it into use in an activity.  Card games are great because they do just that, plus they are so versatile.  Print 4 copies of this game out on card stock paper (this is to keep them from being to flimsy or keep little peepers from trying to see what other have from the back) and then cut the cards out. The cards can be used for Snowman Flip Flop, Go Fish or Memory.


Christmas Story Dice

These are Christmas Story Dice. Preparation is easy – all you have to do is print them out, cut along the outer lines, fold on the remaining lines  (towards the backside w(out pictures) and glue closed.  Once you have that done, you are ready to play.

To Play: just throw the dice and use the pictures that appear on the tops to tell a story.  Use the first image to grab your attention and keep going from there. The game can be played where each person to throw the dice tells their own story OR the story can be played with one long continuing story (every time someone throws the dice, they have to add onto the story that the first person began). You can even write down your stories so you wont forget them!

This game is great because there are no winners or losers, players use their imagination for some good clean fun!

Make a Present

How many times have you lost the twisty thing to close the bag of panetone (a traditional cake from the Milan area,during the Christmas season)? Or maybe you need a cute way to attach the gift tag onto a present.  Need place card holders for your dinner table?  The kids at ARTiculation360’s last workshop of the year, got to make the solution to all these possible dilemmas:

Aren’t these clips adorable?

First we read:

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell is a very funny story about an old lady who swallows just about every Christmas thing you can imagine.  Why did she swallow the bell? I wish she’d tell…and she does, but you’ll have to read the book to find out the answer!  The kids got some great ideas about how to decorate their clips:

Then, they cut…

…they glued…

…and they even make a gift bag to put their presents in!

Happy holidays!  We hope everyone had as much fun as we did!

It’s a Christmas Deal, 3 Games in One!

Have we got a deal for you. Instead of just one game, we have three!  Print these sheets out and you can to play Four In A Row, Christmas Memory or Go Fish!

First print out 1 each of these cards onto heavy weight paper: 1). Cut the excess paper off along the top line of each sheet. Put the two boards top sides together and tape along the seam on the backside of the boards. Your board should look something like this: 2). Print 1 copy and cut out cards:

3). Print out 2 copies each and cut out cards:

Great! Now you are almost ready to play!  To play Four in A Row you will need lots of makers.  Choose 4 different colors and you will need 20 makers of each color (so you will have 80 markers all together).  We use bottle caps, you can also use poker chips, paper circles or anything you want to maker the spaces.  Now you are ready to play!

For 2 – 4  players (see variation for options with more players).

Object of Four in a Row  is to cover 4 spaces in a row (horizontally,
vertically or diagonally).

  1.  Decide who the dealer will be and who will go first. Players choose a color..
  2.  Each player is dealt 3 cards.
  3.  The first player chooses one card from her hand, uses 1 of her chips to cover 1 space with the corresponding picture (she must say what the picture is before putting down her chip) and discards the card.
  4. The dealer gives her a new card. The next player plays one of her cards and so on for each player.
  5. Wild Card means that the player that holds the card may put a chip on any uncovered square and the discards the card.  Take 1 Away means the player that holds the card can take off one chip from another player  and then discards the card. Anyone may use the free space, it’s used as though a chip already covers it (you  don’t actually have to cover it with a chip).
  6. The first player to cover 4 spaces wins.

*Variations- if you have more 6-8 players, players can play as a team- 2 people are assigned 1 color, sit seperately and are still dealt 3 cards each.

OR you can also use the deck of cards to play Christmas Memory or Go Fish! We know you know how to play Memory, so we won’t explain it.  In case you don’t know how to play Go Fish, here’s how it’s played:

The Object of Go Fish is to win the most sets of 4 cards by asking players for them.

1. Each player is dealt 5 cards.  The dealer puts the undealt cards in a stack in the middle.  The player on the dealer’s left begins by asking if another player has a card from his hand. (For example- Johnny do you have any gingerbread men?) If that player has it, he gives Johnny all his gingerbread men cards.  If he does not, he responds ‘Go Fish’ and the 1st player must draw a card.

2.  If the player gets the card he asked for, he goes again.  If he doesn’t get the card from another player, but then draws the card because another player said ‘Go Fish’ and the card is the one he asked for, he may have another turn. When the player does not get the card he asks for, nor draws the card he asks for, play passes to the next person on the left.  When a player has a pair, he may take the matching cards out of his hand.

4. The game continues until all cards are drawn and then pairs are counted. The player with the most pairs wins.

Snow Globes

Snow Globes are great, you can hold a little bit of winter in your hand any time of the year!  One hour wasn’t enough time to let the kids sculpt their own figure to put into the bottle, but we wanted to have the kids make some with their own personal touch.  Each kid drew a winter scene.

To make the pictures water proof, we laminated them (you can also use transparent packing tape). Then kids poured in the water and sprinkled in some glitter (for snow). The last step was to make a snowy lid:And tadah……

Click here if you want to learn how to make your own snow globe.  The lids were made  with a homemade polymer clay, click here for the recipe.

The second workshop finished a little early, so they got to have an indoor snowball fight.

How did we do that?  Sorry, but that’s a post for another day…

Christmas Flip Flop

It’s Gingey Flip Flop! This is a game that is a lot of fun and will get kids talking in English in no time at all!

Preparation:  Print the template 4 times and cut the cards out (there will be 40 cards in total). You will need either a bell (like the desk bell in hotels) or a bean bag.

This game needs 2-4 players.

The object of the game is to win as many pairs of cards as you can by identifying pairs.

Place the bell (or the bean bag in the center of the table).  Shuffle the cards and deal an equal number of cards to each player.  (If there are 3 players, you will need to take out 2 pairs so that there will be 36 cards). Each player keeps their stack of cards in front of them and face down.

Decide who will go first.  One player at a time must flip over a card, eventually forming another stack of cards in front for each player, but with the cards face up. Cards must be turned face out first, so that the other players will see the picture first.

The first player to see two identical gingerbread men face up on the table, must ring the bell (or grab the bean bag) and identify how the pair is the identical same. The similarity can be that they are both happy or sad, they have green or orange buttons, or because the backgrounds are the same (orange, blue or green). If that player answers correctly, she earns that pair of gingerbread men.  If a player flips over a card and the card immediately under it is identical, players may ring the bell (or grab the bean bag) and identify their similarity. Otherwise, once a card is covered up it isn’t used to make pair, until it becomes the top card again.  Once a player has turned over all her cards, she can take the pile of face side up cards and play continues until all the cards are paired.

Be careful….If you ring the bell (or grab the ball) by mistake, or a player does not identify the similarities correctly, she must give a card from her stack to each player. Once all a players cards are gone, she is out of the game.

The winner is the person that collects the most pairs! Good Luck and Have Fun!

Tree Ornament

Per leggere questo post in italiano, cliccate qui.

An ode to Mrs Whitsle and Miss Cathy:  When I was in the third and fourth grade I had 2 really amazing teachers, we did so many fun things in their classes-among them was making a yarn wrapped wreath with our school picture in it as a tree ornament. When I told my mom what project we did, she said she still hangs that ornament on the Christmas tree every year.  Isa and I went through many versions of different projects trying to find just the right one to do and of course we came back to the old tried and true.  So to Mrs. Whistle and Miss Cathy the projects that we did with you so many years ago (I won’t say exactly how many), are really oldies but goodies and I hope you know how your labors of love are still being carried out today (and across time and miles and miles of distance).

This was a great project for all ages for a manual exercise. Many of the kids had a difficult time getting the rhythm of how to pass the ball of yarn through the center hole in the beginning,n without dropping the yarn ball or letting the yarn get too long. Eventually, everyone got the hang of it and finished. Instead of a school picture, the kids drew something Christmas-y to put inside. They did a fantastic job and the decoration came out beautifully.  And of course, they did it all in English!