Issue 22, Autumn 2010
The McMillan Magazine Online

Bizarre days and teaching tips!


This term our Website tips section boasts a brand new feature: Bizarre days and teaching tips! Here are our top ten lesser-known days to celebrate for this term, with suggestions for how to exploit them for some language production:


October 2nd: 'Name Your Car' Day

How about getting your younger Primary pupils to design their own car, colour it and describe it. And of course, give it a name! If you'd rather skip the drawing stage, you can find several ready-made pictures to colour here:


October 5th: 'Do Something Nice' Day 


Get your students in groups to make a list of actions they could do, eg carry an older person's shopping, open a door for someone or make a donation to a charity. Then challenge them to see how many they can do in the next 24 hours!

October 7th: World Smile Day


How many different smileys can your students create? They probably already know loads from their email and Messenger communication. Smileys are easy to draw so this activity is very simple to set up. Students can either work individually and create the smileys in their notebooks, or collectively to make a class poster. In either case, all smileys must be labelled. A novel way to create a picture dictionary!


October 25th: World Pasta Day
Sauce, sorry source:

What kind of sauce do your students like best with their pasta? How do you make it? Brainstorm the food items and verbs such as chop, mix, stir, fry, boil and grate and elicit some sentences. Get a student to write them on the board and leave them there as a model. Then challenge your students to invent their own sauce. Any ingredient is allowed! They must write at least 5 sentences to describe how to make it. And of course, they should give it an appetising name!


October 27th: 'Tell a Story' Day


Tell your Primary pupils a new story and then challenge them to retell it to you using flashcards, realia, PowerPoint images or pictures uploaded to your IWB (you'll find many in the gallery). Secondary teachers could try giving students 3 random words and challenging them in groups to invent a story which includes these words. Students can make notes but remember, this is not a writing activity; storytelling is an oral tradition. That's not to say they couldn't write it up for homework though...


November 3rd – Sandwich Day

What would be in your ideal sandwich? Your younger Primary pupils are bound to have a few ideas! Get each student to draw a piece of bread (or alternatively, give them a worksheet with a piece of bread already drawn, such as this one: They should draw their chosen ingredients on the bread (or cut out pictures and stick them on). And then, of course, they have to write a sentence describing their sandwich. These can then be displayed on the class restaurant menu!


November 6th (the first Saturday in November): Book Lovers’ Day 


Dictate three sentences to describe your favourite book (but without giving away the title) . These could begin: This book is by ....  / It is about a .... who ... / My favourie character is ... because...  Hand out a new slip of paper to each student, who must use the same constructions to write three sentences about their own favourite book.  Students write their name on the paper and then hand them in. Shuffle them and redistribute them. Each student reads out the description on their new paper. The others have to guess which book is being described. The student whose name is on the paper will then confirm this.


November 17th: 'Electronic Greeting Card' Day


The Internet is flooded with different e-card sites for all occasions. Some you have to pay for but many are free. Put all of the names of your students into a hat and get each to draw out a name. Students must send an electronic greetings card to the student whose name they have drawn out. You could make it more interesting by getting each student to write a question for the recipient (either personal or general knowledge, depending on the dynamic of the class). The recipient must have replied to the sender with the correct answer by the next class.


November 27th: 'Buy Nothing' Day

Why not get your younger students to design a poster to advertise the day (and anti-consumerism in general) and think of a slogan? There are some ideas on the above site.


November 28th: Red Planet Day

This day celebrates the planet Mars. Primary pupils will have fun trying out the various audiovisual games and activies on this site:


And one more for luck:


December 7th: 'Letter Writing' Day

A good opportunity to work on letter-writing protocol and lexis.


Click here for Part 1: Days and festivals to celebrate

Click here for Part 3: This day in history


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