ESL Game #70 – What did you get for Christmas?

This game is great for Christmas and holiday language lessons.  It's called What did you get for Christmas?  It's a great way to help your students focus on irregular language expansion while describing some not so common toys and realia.

The Details About What Did You Get For Christmas?:

  • Students should be between the ages of 4 and 10 years old.  
  • This game is best suited for classes with 4 to 7 students.   Any more and the game will take too long.  One possible large class tweak would be adding multiple presents.
  •   This game should take between 10 and 20 minutes of class time to play depending on the size of your class.

The Language Being Taught Ss:  

Class - What did you get for Christmas?

S1 - I got something big.

S2 - Is it a dinosaur?​

S1 - Yes, it is. / No, it isn't.

For Younger Students Make It Easier:  

Class - What did you get for Christmas?

S1- It's ​fast.

S2- Is it a ​train?

S1- Yes, it is. / No, it isn't.​

Required Materials:

  • Some Christmas music.  The music being played in the video can be found right here.
  • A Box (It can be small or big. It depends on the size of the "things" you use).
  • Presents - anything will work: toys, shapes, stuffed animals, etc. Just make sure the "presents" you place in the box match the lesson materials you're teaching your children. For example, 3 years old students may be learning about shapes, numbers & colors. So, use colorful shapes and numbers.
  • Picture cards can be used for older students that know more words. This is basically a version of ESL Game #022 - Watermelon designed for children rather than high school students and adults.

ESL Games - What did you get for Christmas?

How To Play What Did You Get For Christmas?:

  1. ​Pre-teach the target language.
  2. Ask your students to sit in a circle & close their eyes.
  3. Place one of the "presents" you brought into the box.
  4. Put on a song your whole class knows and sing along. While singing start passing the present around the circle.
  5. Randomly stop the music. (make sure you "randomly" stop the music when a stronger student is holding the box the first time).
  6. The student holding the “present” then has to use age/level appropriate English to describe the item in the box without showing the other students. If the item is a banana a student might say something similar to; "It's yummy. It's yellow, it’s long." The point is to get students connecting words. Even if it's only one or two words at first.
  7. The student that guesses what the "present" in the box is, gets to hold the present as a point.
  8. Repeat steps 1 - 6 until every student has taken a turn describing what's in the box.

Note: Always match the "presents" with your student's abilities. The goal is to build confidence not to embarrass your students in-front of their peers.

Example sentences based on age.
  • 3 - 4 years old → Ask them to make a sentence or two:  It’s a circle. It’s red.
  • 5 years old and up → Ask them to make 2 – 3 sentences explaining the "present" e.g., It’s an animal. It’s white. It eats bones. When they don’t know what to say don't hesitate to give them prompting questions, e.g, what is it?, what colour is it?

What did you get for Christmas?:

    • It's great for holiday lessons.​
    • ​It's a great way to help your students bridge the gap between vocabulary acquisition and sentence formation.
    • It's fun.