42 content based ESL lesson plans for beginning through intermediate students
St. Patrick's Day Shamrocks
Use St. Patricks's Day to give your students an opportunity to learn and use figurative language in English.
Featured lesson plans
Memoirs and Personal Essays
When your middle school class is reading and writing memoirs, how can you include your English language learners in the lesson? What do you do if you have ELLs at many different levels? Includes classroom resource picks.
Soaring High with Kites
Help your ESL students obtain new heights in English language learning through this dynamic unit on kites. Through this topic your students can study the importance of kites in cultures around the world and investigate the role that kites have played in scientific discovery, Includes downloadable activities.
Year-round lesson plans
Thanksgiving Lesson Plan
Gobble, gobble! Get ready to break out the cranberry sauce and put the stuffing in the oven with our Thanksgiving related lesson plans and activities for ESL students Grades 1-4.
International Day of Peace
Celebrate the United Nations' International Day of Peace on September 21st. Join the worldwide movement to create a global ceasefire and day of peace and nonviolence. This is an occassion to help students develop respect for diverse cultures.
One of the most frequent inquiries on the Ask Judie Bulletin Board is from preschool teachers all over the world. They have asked for themes, lessons, and materials to implement in their preschool classes. Here are some ideas that will help answer their questions. Includes classroom resource picks.
Organizing Your Newcomer's Day
What do you do when your new students does not speak English? Where do you begin? Read these tips to help you get your English language learners off to a good start.
Content-based Science Instruction for ELLs
Is it possible to increase interest and add excitement to ESL instruction through science-based thematic units? Yes it is! Help students reach Core Curriculum Content Standards while engaging their interest.
Creepy Crawly Spiders
Help young children learn that all spiders are not dangerous. Many spiders have an important role in the balance of our ecosystem.
Walking by the Wall: A Virtual Trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
To many tourists the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a "must-see" spot in Washington D.C. For students who cannot really make the trip, this lesson provides them a virtual trip. Through this lesson they do not only see what the Wall is like but also read about it. They may come up with deeper thoughts toward wars or make life connections. Includes classroom resource picks.
Teaching the Scientiific Method
Link your lessons to content area instruction. Learn how to increase your students' academic, thinking and social skills through participation in a school Science Fair. Includes downloadable activities.
Lupine Lady and Johnny Appleseed: A Comparison
What do Johnny Appleseed and Miss Rumphius have in common? Compare the story of the Lupine Lady with a favorite American folk tale.
Extreme Weather: Hurricanes
Hurricanes are often in the news as they wreak havoc in the United States. Where do they come from? How do they form? Teach your ELLs this timely information about hurricanes.
Johnny Appleseed, an American Folk Hero
Teach your ELLs about American Folktales through a unit on Johnny Appleseed. This is a perfect accompaniment to a thematic unit on Apples or on other Fall topics.
Multicultural Holidays Through Student Artwork
Celebrate the culture of your English language learners. Have students draw and write about holidays in their countries. This activity helps ELLs develop pride in their cultures and builds self-esteem.
Popcorn Pickles, Popcorn Stew
How does popcorn pop? Why does it make a noise when it pops? Share a popcorn treat with your students as you read about popcorn. Teach a cross-curricular theme by including popcorn experiments in the unit. Includes classroom resource picks.
Bats Are Everywhere!
Are bats blind? Do they attack people? Do they carry rabies? This thematic unit provides a change of pace to your study of animals. Help your students explore the scientific facts and myths about bats. Increase vocabulary, study animal classification, and add to knowledge about animals.
Ribbit! Ribbit! A thematic unit on frogs
Your English language learners (ELLs) will love this unit on frogs. Tie it to a thematic unit about the pond habitat and it becomes perfect material for transitioning into Spring. Includes downloadable activities and classroom resource picks.
Forests, Deserts & Grasslands
Familiarize your ELLs with specific content and vocabulary related to biomes and ecosystems. Help them make connections to previous learning and draw from their background knowledge. Includes classroom resource picks.
Hats Off to You!
Why do people wear hats, caps or bonnets? Teach a unit about occupations, world costumes, sports, or idioms around hats. Includes downloadable activities and classroom resource picks.
Teaching about America
Feelings of patriotism are very strong in the United States at this time in our history. It is very important to teach your English language learners about the songs and symbols of America so that they show respect at appropriate times. Includes downloadable activities and classroom resource picks.
A is for Apple
Combine science, language arts, and math with an apple theme for Fall. This is an excellent unit for mixed level ESL classes and can be taught to students of a wide variety of ages and abilities. Includes downloadable activities.
What's in a Name?
Do your students drop their names in order to become Michael or Karen? Help English language learners develop positive self esteem and pride in their native language names. Includes downloadable activities.
Tale of the Tooth Fairy
Combine teaching American culture with the use of wordless books for this September lesson plan. Introduce your students to Tomie de Paolo with an engaging story about the tooth fairy. This is an ideal activity for an early elementary multi-level ESL group.
Many of the safety issues which are crucial for our newcomers are taught during the regular school year. Even if your new English languge learners attended school for the entire year, it is possible these important lessons were not understood.
Find the Frog
Teach students about how frogs use camouflage to hide from their enemies. At the same time, encourage your English language learners to interact in cooperative pairs. This activity can be used with students in grades 1-6. Includes downloadable activities and classroom resource picks.
Teaching about Nuitrition
Thematic units tend to unify instruction in literature, writing, science, and social studies. Since this unit on nuitrition is "hands-on" and can be taught through cooperative groups, your newcomers can participate at their own ability levels.
Newcomers in the School Community
In the Spring my district always welcomes newcomers to the United States into our E.S.L. program. Finding activites for these new students is a challenge. Combine your students' natural interest in environmental print with a tour of the neighborhood for this thematic unit.
Real and Fictional Wolves
Help your young English language learners conduct research using nonfiction books. Teach students to make comparisons between fiction and nonfiction using a Venn Diagram. Includes downloadable activities.
Who's Inside the Mitten?
Drama provides a means to get everyone in your ESL class actively involved in second language learning. Students develop self-confidence and improve their oral language skills. They also practice performing in front of a group. Includes downloadable activities and classroom resource picks.
Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?
Why does Little Red Riding Hood wear a red cape? Why did she stop to talk to a stranger? What questions would your English language learners ask if they could interview characters from this classic fairy tale? Stimulate imagination and develop oral language with this creative lesson.
Settling the Plymouth Colony
Introduce the concepts of religious freedom and self-government with this social studies unit on the Plymouth Colony designed for Intermediate ESL students in grades 3-8. Includes downloadable activities and classroom resource picks.
Be a Weather Reporter!
Young students love to become weather reporters with this "weather turtle." It is guaranteed to produce lots of language and to give students practice in following directions in English. Includes downloadable activities.
It's the middle of the school year and your English language learners need to be stimulated and challenged. Add some pizzaz to your ESL curriculum with this unit on the Polar Regions. Includes downloadable activities and classroom resource picks.
What's Your Favorite Food?
Combine content area learning with the development of oral language skills. When your English language learners conduct a survey, they have a real reason to interact with all of their mainstream classmates. Includes downloadable activities.
What Happened on Pa Lia's First Day?
On her first day in a new school Pa Lia felt alone and wanted to make friends. This thematic unit will help students discuss feelings about their first day in a new school and the difficulties of making new friends. Includes downloadable activities and classroom resource picks.
This "Pumpkin Science" lesson gives English language learners a background in how plants grow. It also provides them with practice in estimating and in predicting outcomes. Includes downloadable activities.
TPR is a Valuable Tool!
While other methods have come and gone, Total Physical Response (TPR) is still a valuable tool when teaching newly-arrived ESL students. Despite the wealth of materials available to us, nothing is more useful with a newcomer than this very direct and visual instruction.
Thirteen Original Colonies
The study of the colonization of the United States provides an excellent opportunity to introduce the concepts of American culture which may be unfamiliar to your student population. This lesson includes downloadable handouts. Includes downloadable activities and classroom resource picks.
Animals are of great interest to all students. Try this fascinating topic with multi-level classes of varying English-language ability. Includes downloadable activities and classroom resource picks.
Categorizing & Classifying Animals
A companion piece to 'Amazing Animals,' this lesson is designed to teach English language learners in grades 2-8 about animal classification. It features more downloadable handouts and additional resources. Includes downloadable activities and classroom resource picks.
Hop! Jump! Turn!
This lesson goes hand in hand with 'A lesson plan for newcomers' and features more an engaging classroom activies for brand new ESL students. Includes classroom resource picks.
Out of season lesson plans
Looking for Christmas in July? Here's a listing of 28 holiday and seasonal lesson plans for the rest of the year.
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