What Color is Santa? Fun resources for your last ESL Class before the Holidays

Education & Technology Teaching Online

ESL Class


Wherever you are in the world, the holidays are a hard time to teach. Classes are ending; people are coming and going on trips. Everyone’s mind is elsewhere and they need a change of pace. It is a good moment for a show-stopping lesson. The first part of this post provides you with easy, organized access to a hilarious (yet important) debate that is taking place right now:  Why is Santa always portrayed as white and must it always be so? The second part is full of resources for quick and fun end-of-the-semester classes.

What Color is Santa?

Recently, in her article “Santa Clause Should Not Be a White Man Anymore,” Slate Blogger Aisha Harris suggested that instead of the typical White Santa Claus, we should embrace a penguin as the jolly gift bearer for Christians (and the Christmas celebrating secular people) around the world. Conservative Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly responded  that Santa “Just is white.”  Jon Stewart, a liberal late night comedian, took on her comments, and much hilarity (and serious debate) ensued. Race relations are undeniably an important topic, and watching how they play out in this situation is riveting.

Here is a play-by-play of the debate, ready to use in your class. My current students are a bit too young for this particular conversation, but if I were teaching adults, I would assign the articles to read before class, and watch and discuss the videos during class.

-The original article by Aisha Harris appears in Slate. “Santa Clause Should Not Be a White Man Anymore.

-Megyn Kelly declares that Santa “just is white.” She points out that Jesus is too. The Kelly Files, December 11, 2013.

-Jon Stewart, the late night comedian and commentator, tears apart her argument. The Daily Show, December 12, 2013.

-Harris responds with this article in Slate. “What Fox News Doesn’t Understand About Santa.

-Harris appears on CNN’s program “Reliable Sources” to discuss the Megyn Kelly Segment. Reliable Sources, December 15, 2013.

-Megyn Kelly explains her comments. The Kelly Files, December 13, 2013.

-Jon Stewart, responds to her explanation. The Daily Show, December 16, 2013.

Perhaps you want something lighter?

Here are some suggestions and resources to make your last class of the semester playful and fun.

Music: Get your students singing! Here are the The Top Ten Christmas Songs For ESL Classes.

Stories: There is nothing better than a good story. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry is a classic Christmas Tale in which a young couple gives up what they most love for each other.  Here is a recorded reading of it, along with the text, graphics and pictures to aid understanding and comprehension questions- all ready to go. All of your planning is done!

Games: Be sure to check out 6 fun Christmas Games for English Practice, on Busyteacher.org. This post lists a variety of quick and easy games to play with your online learners. All of them except for “Pin the Nose on the Reindeer” would be suitable for an online class.

Videos: ESLvideo.com is a great resource for ESL teachers. It has a number of short videos (often songs) followed by a series of related comprehension questions. It has a bunch of videos just for the holidays, including:

Disney’s ”A Christmas Carol,”

A news cast about an 11 million dollar tree

A news cast about the origins of the Christmas Tree

And many others

What is really great about ESLvideo.com is that you can register to create video quizzes or use video quizzes that other people have made.

Grammar: Are you really going to make your students study grammar? If you do happen to be a stickler for regimented learning until the last possible minute, here is a quiz that uses Christmas themed questions to practice grammar. It asks students to identify the correct verb tense in sentences such as:

People have been _________ gifts to give to family and friends.

  1. buy

  2. buying

  3. buys

While this is not for beginners, it would be fun in an upper level class.

Making Merry!

The holiday season is a great time to freshen up both your life and your classroom. May these suggestions spread some joy among your students and lighten your planning load.


I am a teacher, hiker, mother, dancer and home-maker. I have taught pre-school through SAT prep. I am exploring ways to create on-line learning communities for home-schooled middle school and high school students. In particular, I am starting a low-residency on-line middle school. I would like to help young people explore important ideas while enjoying their lives! You can learn more about my programs at www.onlineclassesforgroovykids.org.


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