Is the New Year just a calendar event and a big party, or is it also an opportunity for educators to teach students valuable lessons? New Year is a time to both reflect on the past year and look towards the future. It’s an exciting time to make new promises and set new goals, which is a valuable lesson that teachers can share with their students. The following ten activities have been assembled for use in the classroom, but first, let’s teach students to reflect, evaluate, or measure the past year’s successes and failures in order to motivate a more sincere approach to their New Year’s resolutions.
How to reflect positively on the past
For most people the end of the year is a time to reflect, to look back, and ask oneself a few questions:
Did I accomplish everything I wanted to?
What could I have done better?
After a moment of introspection, draw up a list of New Year’s resolutions and try to stick to them.
A lesson plan for teaching New Year’s resolutions
A good New Year’s resolution lesson plan has a few components. It should cover:
The importance of setting goals.
How to set plans and stick to them.
Any holiday-related vocabulary students may not understand.
Review popular idioms:
The class warm-up is also a great time to introduce some New Year-related idioms, like:
To ring in the new year.
To get the ball rolling.
To turn over a new leaf.
Out with the old, in with the new.
Why do people break their resolutions?
I like this question because it encourages students to think about why we don’t always reach the goals we set for ourselves. The answers will vary, but one widespread cause is the idea of “biting off more than one can chew.” Following the discussion, the teacher can then select any of the next activities for class in the week leading up to New Year’s Eve.
Ten Classroom Activities for New Year:
1. Prioritise the Top 10:
The following is a list of what is allegedly the most popular New Year’s Resolution on the internet. Place students into groups and get them to arrange it from popular to least popular. Afterward, discuss why they thought so. “What is nr.1? Why do you think so?” As teachers, we do this because we have to model what we expect them to do
TOP TEN LIST:
- Diet, exercise and weight loss
- Read more
- Learn something new
- Save money
- Be nicer, kinder and more patient
- Get a new job
- Volunteer and donate more to charity
- Drink less Alcohol
- Relax and get more sleep
- Make new friends and be a better friend
2. New Year’s Pictionary
Students write down a few resolutions each on a piece of paper. Take turns to mime them in groups.
I like to put students into smaller groups, write down ideas, then pass them on to other groups.
3. Walk around the class Survey
Students walk around the class and ask their friends. Because they have played the first 2 games they should have a good idea of what their resolutions are. Make sure to give them time to think of something specific to them. The worse thing is having 20 Korean Girls say that they have to lose weight. (body shape). Also ask a follow up question.
4. Set smart goals S.M.A.R.T.
How do we make our New Year’s Resolution “stick”? How do we make New Year’s Resolutions that are not just wishful thinking? By using SMART goals, students can learn about setting personal goals in life and how to achieve them. What does SMART stand for?
Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
Achievable (agreed, attainable).
Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
For example, my New Year’s Resolution is to improve my English. What do I need to do? I need to study English 30 minutes a day/ I will speak at least twice in every English lesson/ I want to learn 20 new English words each week.
Once finished, divide the class into pairs or ask them to find a partner. Each student should explain their New Year’s Resolution to their classmate and outline their plan for achieving it. Then, the partner should report back to the class what they learned about their friend. When they share with the whole class, encourage them to use at least one of the idioms from the beginning of the lesson. Students are shy about themselves and communicate more freely, yet responsibly, when they must report back about their friends.
For example: “My partner, Molly, would like to turn over a new leaf in 2022. She wants to get better at the violin. First, she will practice every day. She will also try to be in more competitions. Finally, she will audition for the local youth orchestra.”
5. New Year’s craft for young ESL learners
Ask students to draw two pictures: One of something they enjoyed in the past year, like a special trip or event; and another of something they are looking forward to or hope to accomplish next year.
6. Create a class calendar
Teach or review the names of the months in English. Divide the class into 12 groups, give each group a calendar template, and assign each a month to work on. Each group has to decorate and create a page for their month. Put all of the pages together and use this very special class calendar to jot down birthdays, holidays, and special events. Let the students gather information for the calendar, for example, find out when their friend’s birthdays are; when the public holidays are; when school will start and close for vacation. Take pictures of the pages and convert it into a digital calendar that can be shared with the parents, printed and laminated.
7. Teach about Chinese New Year and other versions
Teachers should use New Year as a time to teach about other calendar versions. For example, the Julian calendar that preceded the Gregorian calendar and is still maintained by some countries. Next, they can learn about lunar calenders in other cultures, for example, when will the next Chinese New Year be celebrated and what year will it be? Surely your students know their zodiac birth sign, but how many know their Chinese zodiac sign? Wouldn’t it be fun for them to find out? Let students do research in pairs and report back on when and how other nations celebrate New Year. Next, they must report on what they do on New Years Day/Eve. Remember to always relate the lesson topic to students’ own lives.
8. Review the Past Year questions
Let students review the past year. Get the PDF of Questions free at this link: https://sendfox.com/etacude
9. Do video battle!
More advanced student
As a rule, teachers should sparingly show video in the classroom unless it’s just a minute or two to break the monotony, or when it’s relevant to the lesson. These videos, however, are about Western New Year traditions. Divide the class into groups and let them watch one of the videos once or twice, taking notes in order to draw up questions for the other team/ group. They score points for asking good questions and also for giving the correct answers.
10. Learn to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’
Teach students the lyrics to ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ It’s the song traditionally sang in English communities when the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve. It was written in the 18th century by Robert Burns. This is a good opportunity to make students realize that all languages evolve over time and that “Auld lang syne” translates to “The good old days.” It reminds us of the good times we’ve had with friends in the past, and look forward to the future. Here are the lyrics to teach the class.
Auld Lang Syne – By Robert Burns
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should acquantance be forgot, and auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
By making use of activities such as this, students gain insight and learn about culture, language, and life.