Posted 15/12/15
This is my favourite Christmas video – an ingenious piece of work from animator Felix Sputnik. Please excuse the lack of PDF. At the time of upload, there are only three days of school left before the holidays. There’s just no time right now!

Part one: Elves

Make sure that students know what elves are. We are *not* considering elves from the Hobbit / Lord of the Rings. Christmas elves are a different variety. They are small, wear green hats and help Santa Claus.

Use an image search site to show some examples. Click here.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 23.36.44

Part two: Grammar hangman

Grammar hangman is just like normal hangman except that it works at the level of individual words rather than individual letters. So, the grid below represents the chorus to Eric Carmen’s 1975 power ballad, All by myself (All by myself, don’t wanna be all by myself anymore.)


Let students hear the song. Draw attention to the chorus. Ask students to suggest individual words that they hear and also say where on the grid each word should be placed. Whenever a student makes a mistake (an incorrect word or position) the hangman diagram grows.

Part three: Misheard lyrics

Introduce students to misheard lyrics. Misheard lyrics are lines from songs in which the singer says one thing but people think that he / she says something else. Here are two quite well-known examples:

Jimi Hendrix: Excuse me while I kiss the sky
Misheard: Excuse me while I kiss this guy

Bob Dylan: The answer my friend (is blowing in the wind)
Misheard: The ants are my friends

Perhaps you have some misheard lyrics of your own to share with your students. Or perhaps your students have some to share with you / each other. There are websites full of them that you can make use of. See this one for example.

Part four: Obama’s elf

Tell students that the chorus to the song, All by myself is also associated with misheard lyrics. Play the chorus again and ask them to listen carefully and suggest ideas. The following grid will provide help:


Part five: And finally …

Play the Obama’s elf video and find out if students think that it is funny. Then repeat the process with this one:

Posted 15/12/15

22 Responses to Obama’s elf

  1. Anna Dabrowska says:

    Great! Just in time. I am being observed tomorrow and was thinking about something combining Xmas and listening. Best regards Jamie and all the best for Christmas time. Ania

  2. Catherine Daems says:

    I think I’m in love with you, Jamie! There’s nothing else to say after Obama’s elf…

  3. Birgitta Berger says:

    How adorable!
    Thank you so much and Merry Christmas!

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Excellent to hear Anna. Good luck – I hope your students like it. And thank you Birgitta – it’s a pleasure :)

  5. Jamie Keddie says:

    Well, Catherine, as long as one doesn’t fall in love with one’s elf, right? Ha ha – can someone acknowledge how funny or clever that was. Or both? :)

  6. Lyubov says:

    It’s perfect!
    “Obama’s elf” made my day!

  7. Alex says:

    Can’t beat this for “misheard lyrics”…

  8. Pia Wimmer-Furian says:

    Hi Jamie, I did it with my 13-year-olds today. They thought it was funny. Especially the part where Obama’s elf returns ;)
    The hangman part didn’t work because they knew the lyrics too well. But it was a cool way to introduce Christmas time. We have 7 more days to go, thus every special christmasy activity is welcome. Thanks!

  9. yaddaden nouredine says:

    excellent. my students liked it

  10. yaddaden nouredine says:

    students liked it

  11. Jamie Keddie says:

    Glad to hear all these positive comments :)

    Thanks for sharing the video Alex. I’m sure there’s a lot you could do with it.

  12. erica says:

    I couldn’t stop laughing!

    The Scottish wifie at CEBS


  13. Jamie Keddie says:

    Erica – are you referring to the video or the absolutely hilarious elf joke I made above (see comment 5)?

  14. Kvein (zaragoza) says:

    Another great activity for the classroom. I had a lot of fun with my teens. Keep them coming!
    Happy Christmas Jamie :)

  15. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Kevin
    And the same to you! :)

  16. Gildeta Serafim says:

    Thank you very much. This lesson was a great fun. Have a wonderful Christmas. Gil

  17. Natalie says:

    Great, Jamie! Thanks. I especially liked your video introduction to the lesson and your singing! I’ll try out the lesson with my students next week and yes, hopefully, they’ll have fun!

  18. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Gildeta, thank you Natalie
    Glad you like my singing. I’m not usually allowed to sing at home :)

  19. marija says:

    My students didn’t see it coming, it was good fun! Brilliant as ever, Jamie! Thank you for so many great lesson plans, you have no idea how much time you have saved me and how many great classes I’ve had using them! (Oh, so many exclamation points!! :)) (Well, maybe just a few more)
    Congratulations on your successful campaign and have great holidays!

    Love from Serbia

  20. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Marija
    Many exclamation points back to you!
    Thanks for your comment. Have a great holiday.
    Jamie :)

  21. Evelyn Prödl says:

    Thank you Jamie!
    “It’s too late to order fries!” – that line just made my day!!!!! ???

  22. Jimmy Gabriele says:

    Hilarious! I will be using it soon.

    Thanks again.