Over the last month, I gave a couple of lessons on Christmas. We talked about decorations, music, Santa and baby Jesus. We talked about how Americans and others around the world celebrate their biggest holiday.
My first big lesson was to my middle school class. I had a two hour lesson for them all about how Americans celebrate Christmas. We talked about Santa Claus and the real reason for the season. I brought my Christmas tree and nativity scene for them to see and they loved them.
Throughout the lesson I taught them different Christmas songs like Christmas is Coming and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. I also sang Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Silent Night for them. Since we were singing so much, the teacher suggested we let a couple of the students who were practicing for a talent show to perform for us.
One or two were very good. The others no so much. However, they seemed to enjoy the worst singers best because they were more charismatic than the better singers. They all sang popular American music with three of them singing Justin Bieber songs.
For an activity, we made ornaments because that is a tradition in my family. I gave them pieces of paper that I had already cut like snowflakes. I left space in the middle so they could draw a picture or something. Most of them decided to write a letter to Santa. I left them with the teacher so they could decorate their classroom. Here are a few of the more interesting ones.
After the lesson, a few of the teachers took me out for dinner. This was my first time for soft-shelled turtle, and since I was the guest of honor I “got” to eat the shell. It didn’t taste bad at all. However, at one point I remembered that I had one of these as a pet when I was younger.
For my students, I showed my enthusiasm for Christmas every week. One week I taught them Christmas is Coming. Another week we watched and read The Night Before Christmas and discussed how one story could influence so much about cultural practices like what Santa looks like and how he travels.
The next week we were going to have a full lesson on Christmas, but then I found out that I was supposed to give my exam that week instead of the following week. This completely threw me since I had been told by a few different people that my exam would be during the 18th week, the week after Christmas including my coordinator. I didn’t know it would be the week before Christmas until the Thursday before.
Thankfully, I had already prepared my exam. It just meant that my students wouldn’t have another week to practice and that I couldn’t have my Christmas lesson as planned. So, we planned a Christmas party for all of my students for that Friday.
We ended up having a great time at the party. Everyone brought a white elephant gift to exchange and there was lots of food. However, due to another China moment of poor communication (they happen all the time) about 60 of my students couldn’t come because the day before they found out they had to go to a university New Year’s ceremony during the party.
Anyway, contrary to a Chinese party where it’s more a program than a party, I let them just mingle and chat for a while. Then we got into the activities. First, I gave each class a section of wall and a stack of colored paper. The classes then had 20 minutes to decorate their space with a Christmas theme. We then let each class explain what they did.
After that there was more mingling then Christmas caroling time. We sang Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Rudolph, and Silent Night. I also sang I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day for them. Before singing Silent Night I told them about the unofficial 1914 ceasefire during WWI on Christmas. I told them how some of the soldiers would sing the songs back and forth to each other including Silent Night.
Then we had the gift exchange. We got in a big circle, everyone with a gift, and then I read a story with a bunch of rights and lefts. It let them practice their listening a bit and they had fun. The party was a success, and I think everyone had fun.