How to make your own Christmas cracker

emily Intermediate B1/B2, Passive voice, Pre-intermediate A2

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air ―W.T. Ellis

In this lesson your students will learn how to use the passive voice. In the Christmas spirit, they will watch a short video on how to make a Christmas cracker. This creative lesson plan focuses on speaking and writing skills.

Topic: How to make your own Christmas cracker
Language level: intermediate B1
Learner: teens, adults
Time: 60 mins (up to 2h with the extra practice activity)
Materials: PowerPoint presentation, video, Christmas cracker

Explain that you are going to watch a short video on how to make a Christmas cracker later in this class. Many ESL students won’t know exactly what a Christmas cracker is. This is a great opportunity to creatively introduce the new Christmas vocabulary.

Ask your students to take an empty sheet of paper and make a drawing of what they think a Christmas cracker is. Allow your students up to 5 mins to finish their drawing.

After the students finish their drawing, ask them to look at each other’s pictures and group students with similar looking drawings together.

Ask each group to briefly discuss the features of their ‘Christmas cracker’ within their small group. When they finished the short discussion, ask one student of each group to describe their drawing to the class.

Important note: At the end of this activity, you have to make sure your students know what a Christmas cracker is. In case one of the groups has an accurate drawing, ask that group to elaborate more. In case none of the groups know what a Christmas cracker is, just explain it yourself, showing the Christmas cracker you brought with you to class. Do not open the Christmas cracker as it will be used later on in the class. (Or: if you want to open it at the beginning of the class, make sure you bring more than one cracker).

 

The main part of this class will focus on how to construct the passive voice. This is often a challenging topic for ESL students. By using the PowerPoint attached, your students should be able to understand the difference between the active and passive voice, and construct and convert simple sentences.

Slides 1 – 4:

Introduce the term ‘Voice’, making sure your students understand that a voice and a tense are two different things. There are only two voices (active and passive), while there are many tenses (Present Simple, Past Simple, Future Simple, Present Continuous, …)

Once the students understand this difference, explain that when using the passive voice, the subject is doing something (the subject is active). When using the passive voice, the subject is undergoing the action (the subject is passive).

Slides 5 – 10:

Show the students the three examples of sentences in the passive voice. Focus on how the sentences are structured, and how the structure is always repeated. Some students find it helpful to see the structure in front of them, slide 6 should cover this.

Make sure your students understand when the passive voice is used:

  • When the doer of the action is unknown

  • When the author wishes to not tell the audience who is doing the action

  • When one wants to emphasize the receiver of the action

Also focus on the use of a ‘double verb’ when using the passive voice. The verb consists of a form of the verb ‘to be’ and the past participle of the main verb (see slide 8).

Slides 11 – 13:

Slide 11 provides simple exercises for the students to transform active sentences into passive sentences. Ask the students to do the exercise individually, so everyone can get themselves familiar with the structure.

The correct answers are included on slides 12 and 13.

 

Explain that you’re now going to watch the short instruction video on how to make a Christmas cracker. Show the video to the students a first time while they write down any words they don’t understand, so that they can familiarise themselves with any new vocabulary if necessary.

After watching the video the first time, explain any words your students don’t understand.

The students will now watch the video again, a second and third time. From now on, the students have to write down the instructions given in the video, using the passive voice, for example:

  • The cracker snap is glued on the inside of the paper.

After playing the video for the third time, allow your students a couple of minutes to finish writing down their instructions. Assist the students wherever necessary.

When the students are finished writing down the instructions in the passive voice, ask one of the students to come to the front of the class. Play the video one more time, but this time without sound, and ask the student in front to replace the voice of Suzelle with his/her instructions (and for the long introduction: his/her imagination!).

 

You could bring all the necessary items required to construct the Xmas cracker to class. Your students record a video of their own, where the step by step process of creating a cracker is shown and explained using the grammar point discussed during the lesson. One person is going to create a cracker whereas the other is going to explain what’s being done.

 

Special Thanks to SuzelleDIY for creating and sharing the video!

 
 

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emilyHow to make your own Christmas cracker