Extensions of Commercial Madness

This post contains a brief overview of how I do the commercial madness bracket in my class and possible extensions.

The response for this year’s Navidad Madness and Noël Madness has been extremely overwhelming.  There have been over 6,000 downloads and over 15,000 views (and counting….) just in the past four days.  It also has been great seeing the Tweets with #Navidadmadness and #Noëlmadness.  Keep tweeting!  I hope your students enjoy the madness as much as mine do.

Brief Overview:

Here is what I do each class with the commercial madness:

  • I do two commercials each class.  Some classes I do four commercials in one class just to make sure that we get through all the rounds.  My students love doing them so doing four of them is not overload.  In fact, they would be happy to do more.
  • I hand them the bracket.  We fill it out together.  I do one bracket for all of my classes combined but you can certainly do one bracket per individual class.
  • I introduce each commercial by either doing PQA, talk about what they will see, reading the transcript, looking at screenshots.  Then we watch the commercial and then do the activity together.  I also do what I need to do to make it comprehensible.  Then we re-watch the commercial.
  • After seeing both commercials, the class votes for their favorite. We keep going until we have declared the champion.
  • Since I do a combined bracket, they find out which one moves on the next class (a little suspense).
  • This usually takes no more than thirty minutes.  It is, however, possible to go into more depth with each commercial.  

Possible Extension Activities:

There is so much that you can do with each commercial.  It is your choice as to how far in depth you go and how much time you spend with each commercial.  I tend to do more with the commercials that win.

  • MovieTalk the commercial
  • write up important events in the target language and cut them up into strips.  Students have to put them in the logical order, either in groups or kinesthetically.  
  • running dictation with sentences from the commercial
  • Venn diagram: compare two commercials or compare two people in a commercial
  • Freeze frame: teacher reads a sentence in the TL (an action from a commercial) and a group or the entire class freezes the action.
  • Word cloud: create a word cloud from a commercial and students circle the word as they hear it when watching a commercial.  
  • Personalize!  With the Spanish commercial for Juguettos, ask students what they are asking for Christmas using the structure ‘me lo pido.’
  • Screenshot sort:  Print out screenshots from a commercial and students have to put them in the correct order
  • Screenshot retell: students sit in a circle, put printed screenshots in the middle of the circle upside down.  One at a time, a student chooses a paper and tells what is happening in the TL.
  • Drawing:  Students can create an Instagram post of their favorite part of the commercial.  Or teacher can describe a scene in the TL and students draw it.
  • Assessments: There are many possibilities for assessments including interpretive reading and listening, presentational writing, and speaking.
  • Culture: Explore the culture of Christmas and the places and companies of each commercial.

Here is a great activity from Melanie Ryan:

Using the STORYTELLING STRING, students create and tell stories (often crazy ones!) in the target language. Although you can do this activity in a larger group, I suggest a group of 3 – 4 students.
1. Before class, the teacher prepares one long string per group. The string has knots tied at irregular intervals.
2. The first person in the group begins to tell a story while moving his/her hand slowly along the piece of string.
3. When the student arrives at a knot in the string, the string is passed on to the next person in the circle who continues the story while moving his/her fingers slowly along the piece of string. He/she must pick up where the story left off and continue the story until he/she reaches the next knot in the string.
4. The string will likely go around the circle multiple times.
5. The person who has the final stretch of string must finish the story.
6. If the group runs out of things to say, the students could predict what will happen next by switching to the future tense.                     7. At the end of the activity, the teacher might call on a group to summarize its story for the class.

-With a print ad or commercial ad, students can tell the story.
-Ask students to include transition works (then, next, after, etc.).
-This activity lends itself well to narration in the past. It’s especially fun for Halloween. (It was a dark and stormy night…)
-When students are finished with the story, you could:
 -ask them to draw the story (interpretive mode)
– ask the students to regroup and find a student from another group and tell the story (presentational mode)
– ask the students to write the story (presentational mode)

Last year, Annabelle Williamson (La Maestra Loca) posted some great extension activities with last year’s bracket.  You can find them HERE.  They are extremely adaptable to any commercial and allowed her to simplify her month of December.

Abby Jones shared this on Twitter.  She used the commercial as a way to provide compelling comprehensible input by using the structure ‘es’ ‘son’.  

Pamela Mejia just tweeted this fantastic slideshow and additional activities to be used during Navidad Madness.  

With the commercial madness, I keep it fun, compelling, and comprehensible.  If you create any extension activities with the commercial madness, let me know!  

Added 12/9/18: Here is a Google slideshow shared by Carol Kovatch for the 2018 Navidad Commercial Madness:

Added 12/9/18: Here are some extra activities shared by Cécile Lainé for the Noël Commercial Madness: 

Orange Pub Noël 2018 Orange Pub Noël 2018 MovieTalk script

Milka Noël Activity  |  Pub #4 Bouygues Past Tense Activity

Pub # 7 Paypal MovieTalk Slideshow and Post activity




  1. Hi there! Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful Commercial Madness idea! Can you tell me if the students vote for their favorite? What are the brackets for?
    Many thanks!

  2. Thank you VERY much for sharing all this! I am so excited to have something so loaded/exciting/fresh to share with my students as we head toward the Holidays!!!!

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