Thursday, December 15, 2011

Four Christmases, How the Grinch Stole Christmas & The Polar Express: Christmas Eve, Santa Claus

Talking about Christmas is always a referring topic, especially in the end of the year. I hope you enjoy this activity and Merry Christmas to you all!

I. Santa Claus Quiz. More than one answer is possible: Taken from the wonderful site
1. Santa Claus is also Known as:

a. Saint Nicholas b. Father Christmas c. Santa

2. The image we have of Santa Claus nowadays was created in:

a. the 18th Century b. The 19th Century c. The 2oth Century

3. Santa Claus' traditional transport is:

a. a motorbike b. a sleigh pulled by reindeer c. horses

4. The annual Santa Claus World Championships are held in:

a. Switzerland and Sweden b. Austria and Australia c. Iceland and Italy

5. Santa Claus gets into houses to deliver presents:

a. down the chimney b. Through a window c. Through the front door

6. Traditionally, the three kings bring children presents instead of Santa Claus in:

a. South Africa b. Spain c. Scotland

7. Santa Claus brings presents to well behaved children. What happens to badly behaved children?

a. He brings them coal b. They are caught and taken away c. They're whipped

Answer key: 1. a, b, c 2. b 3. b 4. a - races that include sledge racing, chimney climbing, karaoke. 5. a (possibly c, most cases don't have chimneys) 6. b - But Santa is becoming more popular nowadays 7. a, b, c - all are used to scare children into obedience.

II. Work in small groups. Do the comments below reflect your own opinion and experiences about Christmas and Santa Claus? Explain your ideas.

1. I used to believe in Santa when I was child and I believed it for a long time.

2. Santa Claus is an unfair tool for parents to make children behave well.

3. Making your children believe in Santa Claus is not fair because it means lying is okay.

4. The image of Santa Claus is just part of the commercialism of Christmas.

5. Santa Claus takes away the real meaning of Christmas.

III. Vocabulary matching. Match the words related to Christmas and their definitions.

1. Mistletoe

2.Trimming the tree

3. White Christmas

4. Stockings

5. Reindeer

6. Sleigh

7. eggnog

8. Christmas carols

9. Christmas Eve

10. Carving the bird

11. Chestnuts

12. Wreath

( ) This is a plant. There’s a fun tradition that North Americans follow during Christmas. Mistletoe is often hung from a doorway between two rooms. If someone stands under the mistletoe, it is customary for someone else (usually a member of the opposite sex) to kiss him/her.

( ) are commonly eaten at Christmas.

( ) a Christmas with snow.

( ) literally, ‘socks.’ People hang them in front of a fireplace. Small presents are placed there and usually opened on Christmas morning.( ) a drink commonly served at Christmas parties.

( ) cutting the meat and handing it out to people is called ‘carving’ the bird

( ) Santa rides in a sleigh that is pulled by them. The most famous one is Rudolph.

( ) a ‘carriage’ that rides on snow.

( ) songs that are sung at Christmas.

( ) the evening of December 24, also called “The night before Christmas.”

( ) decorating the tree is called ‘trimming the tree’.

( ) a circular band of flowers or foliage twisted together, used as a symbol or decoration. It is usually placed on the front door.

Answer key: 1, 11, 3, 4, 7, 10, 5, 6, 8, 9, 2, 12

IV. Take turns asking each other the following questions:

1. How do you celebrate Christmas?

2. Is Xmas time a good or bad moment in your life? Why?

3. Is shopping for Xmas a hassle or something fun?

4. What are the good and bad sides of Xmas time?

5. What do you usually eat during Xmas?

6. Do you celebrate Xmas on Xmas eve or on Xmas day?

7. Have you ever believed in Santa Claus? How did you find out he does not exist?

8. Is it fair that people help poor people during Xmas time, but not during the rest of the year? Why do they do it? What can be done about it?

V. Watch the first segment from the movie Four Christmases and discuss the questions that follow:

1. Describe the scene

2. How does this family celebrate Xmas?

3. Who still believes in Santa Claus?

4. What kinds of presents were given? Did the children like them? What about the adults?

Explain how you know it.

5. What's your opinion about the way the children were told Santa does not exist?

6. What do you think about the boy's reaction to the news?

7. How similar is the gift exchange to the one you have at home?

VI. Now watch the segment from the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas and answer the questions below:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What vocabulary in exercise III did you see during the scene?

3. What did the characters do to celebrate Xmas?

4. How similar is Xmas day in Whoville AND your town's Christmas celebration?

5. In your opinion, is this scene's the most perfect or the most boring Xmas time? Explain it.

6. What were some of the things you saw in the segment that don't take place in
Christmas time where you live.

Watch the scene from the movie The Polar Express and discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What is the vocabulary in exercise III that you managed to see in the segment?

3. Who believes in Santa Claus?

4. Describe Santa Claus' personality, according to the segment.

5. How do the children feel?




Sunday, December 11, 2011

Breakfast with Scot: Idols x Fans

This film is a nice way to see how different a family can be and how to respect differences. The initial scene is great to talk about the relationship between idols and fans in a world in which the celebrities' lives are exposed to the world practically instantaneously.

I. Take turns asking each other the questions below.

1. Do you have idols? Who are they?

2. Do you have celebrity idols? Do you follow their professional and private lives? Why (not)?

3. Are idols supposed to be role models? Explain it.

4. What's your opinion about news about celebrities that do not show their professional profile? For example, would you read the news about a famous person you admire that says: " X walks by the beach with her son."

5. Are idols responsible for the happiness of their fans? Should they always make time to talk or correspond with their fans?

6. Why do some fans live for collecting information about their idols? What's your opinion about it?

7. Have you heard of stories about fans who want to hurt their idols? Why does it happen?

8. John Lennon was killed by a fan. Why do fans sometimes want to hurt their idols?

9. What does an idol do that hurts their fans feelings?

10. Why do fans change their idols so easily?

11. What would you do if someone you strongly admire treated you badly? Would you still be a fan?

12. What would you do if your child's idol were someone that should not be a model, in your opinion? For example, Hitler, a murderer, or a shallow pop star?

II. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions that follow.

1. Describe the scene.

2. Who's the idol and who's the fan?

3. Describe the fan's and the idol's personality and feelings toward each other.

4. How did the sportsman react to his fans' requests? How do you assess his behavior?

5. How did the kid react to his idol's reaction? How do you assess his behavior?

6. How do you think the kid will see his idol from that moment on?

7. Have you ever asked for someone's autograph? Talk about it. Did you keep the autograph?

8. What would you do if you asked for an autograph and you were denied to receive it?


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hurricane Season & Dolphin Tale: Hurricanes, Katrina

I love the city of New Orleans and what happened to it because of hurricane Katrina really broke my heart. Whenever there is a natural catastrophe, talking about what happened is inevitable. This post is informative and a great conversation generator. Moreover, this is a wonderful under-rated movie.

I. Divide the class in three groups.




When a hurricane season starts -

The time to start your preparations is long before a hurricane watch is issued for your area. A good time to begin is during Hurricane Awareness Week, which occurs the week before hurricane season begins on June 1st. This is the time to make a hurricane plan or assess the one you have already formulated. Go through your hurricane supplies and replace any items that are outdated. Test your flash lights and other battery operated equipment. Check your shutters to ensure they're in good working condition. You may even want to deploy one or two to make sure they fit properly and you remember how they go up. Update any emergency numbers and phone numbers for family contacts outside the area. Pick up a hurricane preparedness brochure at the store and review it for pertinent tips and useful information.

When a hurricane watch is issued for your area -

Now is the time to double check your supplies, your shutters, and your plans. If there are any actions in your plan that need to be done long before you hunker down, now is the best time. You should get some cash from the bank or ATM and gas up your car. The longer you wait, the longer the lines will be, wasting your time.

When a hurricane warning is issued for your area -

Now is the time for action! Put up your shutters before the winds get too high. Clean up your yard and prep your pool. Lower your refrigerator temperature and fill up your bathtub and any extra jugs with water. If you are evacuating, prepare your property first then leave the area with plenty of time ahead since roads will become congested soon after the warning is issued.

Information taken from the informative site:

 II. Group up the students so you can have one student from each of the previous groups. They share what they have just read without referring to the original texts.

III. Complete the blanks with the correct word:

1. A ________________is a giant whirlpool that covers land. A ____________ is a whirlwind. (HURRICANE/TORNADO)

2. ______________ form over land from
thunderstorms. ______________ form over water and covers all sorts of spinning storms from a standard low pressure system to a ______________. (TORNADOES / CYCLONES / HURRICANE)

3. In themselves nothing, they are both the same thing. The distinction is that _________________ form in the Atlantic, and _________ form in the Pacific Ocean. (HURRICANES / TYPHOONS)

4. ____________ Hurricanes are LARGE scale weather systems that form over warm ocean waters near the equator due to the convergence of several factors, including LOW wind shear, warm ocean water, and the Coriolis force. They are large features that exist over time scales of many hours to days. ___________ form in super cell thunderstorms, which are rotating thunderstorms that form in conditions of HIGH wind shear and large atmospheric instability. They are small features that exist on small time scales of minutes to an hour. (HURRICANES / TORNADOES)

Answer key: The alternatives are in the correct order.

IV. Read some of the facts about the hurricane Katrina, which destroyed New Orleans in 2005. Decide which ones you believe are true.

a. Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, killing over 1,800 people.

b. The confirmed death toll (total of direct and indirect deaths) stood at 1,836, mainly from Louisiana (1,577) and Mississippi (238). However, 705 people remain categorized as missing in Louisiana, so this number is not final. Many of the deaths are indirect. It is almost impossible to determine the exact cause of some of the fatalities.

c. Katrina was the largest hurricane of its strength to approach the United States in recorded history, causing devastation over 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the storm's center.

d. New Orleans' levee failures were found to be primarily the result of system design flaws, combined with the lack of adequate maintenance.

e.Hurricane Katrina was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, with $75 billion in estimated damages.

f. More than 70 countries pledged monetary donations or other assistance. Kuwait made the largest single pledge, $500 million; other large donations were made by Qatar ($100 million), India ($5 million), China ($5 million), Pakistan ($1.5 million), and Bangladesh ($1 million)

g. New Orleans new levees have been rebuilt and are able to prevent another catastrophe of the kind if it happens again.

Information taken from the Discovery Site:

Answer key: All are true, except letter g, because the levees won't be ready before 2013.

V. Watch the segment from the movie Hurricane Season and talk about the questions that follow.

1. Describe the scene.

2. What were some of the consequences of the hurricane devastation that you managed to see in the segment?

3. What images shocked you most? Why?

4. Have you ever been caught by a natural disaster (earthquakes, tsunami, hurricane, flood, or others)? Talk about it.

5. Is your living area susceptible to natural catastrophes?

6. Why do some people insist in living in areas that are at risk of a catastrophe, such as the eruption of a volcano, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, etc?

Watch the segment from the movie Dolphin Tale and discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene:

2. What were some of the steps the characters took in order to get protected from the hurricane damages?

3.How severe was the destruction?

4. What was not observed by the characters when they were getting ready to shelter themselves.