How to teach the months of the year to ESL students

By Allan Sweeney

By Allan Sweeney

By Allan Sweeney

Understanding and remembering the months can be challenging for ESL students, who often need extra help with spelling & pronunciation early on. In this article, we will introduce various ESL activities and classroom games specifically designed to help teach the months of the year in a fun and interactive manner.

ESL activities and games for teaching the months of the year

This article presents several warm-up activities, collaborative classroom exercises and fun games designed to make learning the months of the year enjoyable and engaging for ESL students.

If you are looking for a complete lesson plan, check out our free 'Months of the year' lesson in our upper-beginner-level course.

Warm-up & revision

ESL flashcards activity

This activity uses flashcards to introduce the names and order of the months of the year.

We recommend printing out the months of the year flashcards for this activity, but coloured cards with the months written in thick marker pen will work fine for this. 

Some of your students may already be familiar with some of the months in English, so let's try to leverage that.

Begin by writing the question "What month is it?" on the board.

Try to get the correct response before eliciting the complete list of months and adding them to the board. Lean on the students' L1 if you need to. Drill the months a few times from the board, moving your finger to each one as you step through.

Now, show the set of flashcards to students and instruct the group to repeat the name of each month after you. Do this as many times as you feel is necessary.

After you have done that a few times, you can modify the activity and start to test your students by: 

  • In the correct sequence, have individual students repeat the flashcard that you show.
  • Shuffle the flashcards so that each student has to say a random month.

Video and Song: Months of the year

For this activity, we will use a video with a song to introduce and reinforce the names and order of the months of the year to young ESL learners.

Present a catchy song that teaches the months of the year, such as "The Months of the Year Song" by The Singing Walrus. 

Depending on the resources available, play the video or audio for students and encourage them to sing along.

Calendar quiz 

Explore and learn the months of the year using an English calendar, discussing holidays, seasonal changes, and practising pronunciation.

Before the class, source a large English calendar that clearly displays the months. Ideally, the calendar should also include images, holidays, or seasonal markers that provide context for each month.

If you don't have a large calendar, you can create one using paper and markers or project a digital version onto a screen.

Begin by showing the calendar to the class and explaining that you will be using it to explore the months of the year. Ask students if they are familiar with the concept of a calendar and, if so, what they know about it. Encourage them to share their thoughts and experiences with calendars and lean on their native language if needed.

Start with January and work through the months, one at a time.

For each month, clearly pronounce its name, ask students to repeat it after you and write the name of the month on the board. Point out any holidays, special events, or seasonal changes that occur during the month. Encourage students to share relevant information about these events or changes.

After discussing each month, ask students to try pronouncing it again before moving on to the next one.

Ball toss: Months of the year

Students practice and reinforce the order and names of the months by throwing a ball and saying the months of the year in sequence.

Have students stand in a circle and toss the ball around the while saying the months of the year in order. For example, the first student says "January" and throws the ball to the next student, who says "February" and tosses the ball to the next student, and so on. The student who begins can start from any month they choose.

When students have the hang of this, you can make the activity more challenging by having them switch to reverse order. 

Stopwatch challenge: Month chain

Improve students' familiarity and pronunciation of the months of the year by creating a "chain" of months in a circle and challenging them to beat their own time.

Explain to the students that they will participate in a fun activity to practice the months of the year by creating a "chain" of months. Mention that you are going to time them with a stopwatch.

Have the group stand in a circle and nominate a student to start the round. Activate the stopwatch when that student says the first month of the year. The student to their left must quickly say the following month, followed by the next student to their left, and so on.

When the students reach the last month, stop the stopwatch and record the time on the board.

Have students repeat the month chain activity several times, attempting to beat their previous record with each go.


  • Record the time on a coloured card and pin it up somewhere in the classroom. When revising the activity on future days, the students can continue to beat this time.

Activities for teaching the months of the year

Line-up: Months of the year 

The students have to line up in the correct order based on the months of the year.

Only do this activity if you have 12 or more students.

One by one, provide each student with a 'month of the year' flashcard or coloured card with a month on it.

That student must then stand at the front of the class, holding up their card. 

Each subsequent student who gets a card must then join the line in the correct position. After each student joins the line, ask the class if the position is correct before giving the next student their card. Repeat this until all the cards have been given out. 

Birthday line-up

Practice the months of the year, numbers, and speaking skills by having students arrange themselves in order based on their birth month and day.

Before you begin, ensure that there is enough space in the classroom for students to move around and form a line.

Explain to the students that they will need to arrange themselves in a line according to their birth month and day using only English months and numbers to communicate.

Encourage students to help each other find their correct position in the line by repeating their own birth month and day in English.

Once the students believe they are in the correct order, check to ensure their accuracy. Starting with the first student in the line, have each student announce their birth month and day.

Sorted: Months and seasons 

Students work in groups to arrange month and season flashcards, fostering collaboration and understanding of the months of the year and their corresponding seasons.

Before the class, print out flashcards for each month and season. Check out our free ESL flashcards for months and seasons. Print out one set of cards for each group, and print them 'playing card' size(9 cards per sheet). Refer to our printing instructions if you need help with this.

Inform students that they will work in groups to arrange the month flashcards under the appropriate season flashcards.

Divide the students into small groups (3-4 students per group) and provide each group with month and season flashcards. Make sure each group has enough space to work comfortably.

Once all groups have completed the task, review the correct answers with the class.

Memory Challenge: months of the year 

The students are challenged to identify changes made to the order in a visual and interactive memory challenge.

Begin by adding months of the year flashcards in order on the board. Again, flashcards and magnets work best, but coloured paper and blue tack will do fine.

Tell students to close their eyes while you either change the order of the flashcards or remove one or more of the months. For example, you could swap March and May, or remove September altogether.

After making the change, tell your students to open their eyes and identify what has been changed or removed. 

Select a volunteer to come to the board to restore the flashcards to their correct order.

Make the activity more challenging with each round by removing or swapping multiple months. You can also have students take turns being the ones to modify the flashcards.


  • Throughout the activity, reinforce the names and order of the months regularly to ensure that students retain the information.

Story dictation: The months of the year

The students practice listening comprehension and reinforce the months of the year through a story.

You should find or prepare a short story before you start this activity. It should be suitable for the students' level and age. There are plenty of resources online where you can find one, and even fun videos that you could use. We have provided an example story. 

Read a story to the class that uses all of the months of the year. Make sure to read the story clearly and slowly, emphasizing the months of the year and acting out the activities mentioned. Read it as many times as you feel is necessary for students to understand and take notes.

Example Story:

Here's an example of a short story that uses four months of the year. You should modify it if you need to and use flashcards to illustrate any new vocabulary:

"One sunny day in April, a curious rabbit named Remy hopped through the forest, searching for adventure. Along the way, he met Ollie the owl, who told Remy about the magical tree that changed with the months.

In June, Remy and Ollie found the tree covered in sweet, juicy apples. They spent the day munching on apples and playing under its leafy branches.

When October arrived, Remy and Ollie visited the tree again. This time, the leaves had turned into a beautiful mix of red, orange, and yellow. They played in the piles of leaves, laughing and enjoying the crisp autumn air.

Finally, in December, the friends returned to see the tree one last time. It was now covered with sparkling snowflakes. Remy and Ollie built a snowman beneath the tree, cherishing their memories and friendship throughout the year."

After reading the story, ask the class comprehension questions to ensure they understood it. For example: 

  • What are the four months mentioned in the story?
  • What did Remy and Ollie do in October?
  • What happened in December? 

Encourage your students to take notes while listening to the story to help them remember the order of the months of the year and important details from the story.


To extend the activity, you can have students create their own stories incorporating a few months of the year and share them with the class.

An active year

The students act out the activities while their classmates guess the corresponding month.

Begin by adding the months of the year to the board, leaving space between them to write statements underneath.

Elicit present simple statements for each month that describe an activity associated with it and add them to the board. The sentences should be appropriate to the culture and climate of the country you are teaching in, as well as the age and level of the students. An example for Europe and North America might look like this:

  • In January, we wear warm clothes.
  • In February, we give hearts on Valentine's Day.
  • In March, we see flowers start to grow.
  • In April, we play in the rain with umbrellas.
  • In May, we enjoy the colourful flowers.
  • In June, we finish school and start summer vacation.
  • In July, we watch fireworks at night.
  • In August, we swim in the pool or at the beach.
  • In September, we go back to school and meet our new teachers.
  • In October, we dress up for Halloween and go trick-or-treating.
  • In November, we enjoy the autumn leaves and prepare for the winter season.
  • In December, we decorate for the holidays and give gifts to friends and family.

Once you have completed the board with statements for each month, have students take turns coming to the front of the class to act out one of the statements.

Encourage the rest of the class to guess the month of the year corresponding to the activity. For example, if a student performs "Swimming in a pool", the class would shout, "August!"

ESL classroom games for the months of the year

Whiteboard relay: Spelling the months

Two teams of players race to the board to spell the months of the year.

Begin by dividing the group into two teams. Divide the board into two halves and create a numbered list at the bottom of each side. Make sure your students can reach. 

Have each team form a queue at the back of the classroom and give markers to the students at the front.

When the game begins, a student from each group will walk to the board and write a month. When they finish, they return to their team and pass the marker to the next student.

The race ends when one of the teams has added all of the months of the year to the board.

Count the scores at the end, giving a point for each correctly spelled month.

Memory: Months of the year 

In this memory match game, students take turns flipping over pairs of flashcards with months of the year written on them, aiming to find matching pairs.

To prepare, print multiple copies of months of the year flashcards, making sure there are at least two copies of each month per group. To save paper, we suggest you use the print settings of '9 pages per sheet' described in our printing instructions. This makes the cards the perfect size for the game. 

Next, lay the flashcards face down on a table or the floor, ensuring they are all mixed up.

Briefly explain the rules of the game to your students. For each turn, a student will flip over two flashcards. If the two cards match, the student keeps the cards and takes another turn. If they don't match, the cards are flipped back over, and play continues with the next student.

Divide your class into small groups or pairs to play the game. Encourage students to say the name of the month out loud when they flip over a card.

As the game progresses, monitor your students and assist them if they have difficulty pronouncing or remembering the months of the year.

The game continues until all the flashcards have been matched. The student or team with the most pairs of matching flashcards wins the game.

Noughts and crosses: Months of the year quiz

The students play a version of noughts and crosses, answering questions about months of the year to mark a square for their team on the grid.

Begin by dividing the class into two teams, and draw a 'noughts and crosses' grid on the whiteboard.

On each turn, a student from one team will select a square and must answer a question about the months of the year. Some example questions might be:

  • Which month comes before January?
  • How do you spell August?

If the student answers correctly, they mark an 'X' or 'O' in the square for their team.

Play continues until one team gets three in a row, either vertically, horizontally or diagonally, and wins the game.

Wrap up

Using various approaches, such as warm-up exercises, group tasks, and interactive games, you can cater to different learning styles and make the learning process more enjoyable for your students.

If you found these materials helpful, be sure to check out our entire library of ESL lesson plans or download the TEFLHandbook app for offline access.

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Allan Sweeney

Allan is the Co-Founder & Lead Developer on the TEFL Handbook project. He spends his time building software and creating resources that support English teaching. You can learn more about his goals for the project here.


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