Red Nose Day

Age range: 12-18 (or older).
Suitable after 2 or 3 years of English.
Theme: Charities, fund raising and red nose day frivolities.
Lexical area: music, adjectives for describing opinions
Cross curricular links: raising money, causes.
Internet links:

Instructions for assistants are in italics.

Introduce this topic using one of the following ways:

a. Take pictures of famous people wearing red noses and/or involved in red nose activities (see websites for these). What are these people wearing/doing? Do you think they look silly? Get across the meaning of silly in your introduction to the lesson.

b. Wear a red nose if you have one (that should raise a few laughs!!)

c. Write a list of charities on the board: Oxfam, UNICEF, WWF and elicit vocabulary needed: What are these? What causes do they support? How do they get their money? (donations) Or take adverts from charities (from magazines/newspapers) and give groups a brainstorm activity before or during your Red Nose lesson: What’s the name of the organisation? How are they trying to raise money? Is their advert effective? Why? Why not? This is more suitable work for higher levels.

d. Red Nose Day: Why noses? What do they think happens on this special day? Try to create a mood of anticipation/curiosity.

  1. Charities

    It will help to find out about local or national charities in your host country. Ask colleagues to suggest examples if necessary so you can use these to steer the conversation and elicit vocabulary like: raise money, donate money, a donation, to support a cause Aid understanding by giving definitions at this stage or later asking them to look in the text for words which mean: Something you believe in (a cause), to get money from people (raise money), to give away your money (to donate money).

    Do a) and b) as a whole class discussion and let students of intermediate level and above work in pairs for task c) and d) Suggestions for d) might be: they advertise in newspapers, on TV, they make documentaries, they put money boxes in churches, pubs (in the UK), they have sporting and cultural events, they have shops (charity shops in the UK – explain these)

    a. Have you ever given money to a charity or a good cause?

    b. Have you ever participated in a charity event in your school or town?

    c. Which of the following causes are you more likely to support?

      Save the rainforests
      Save the Whale
      Save a historic building
      War on famine (giving money to feed the starving in Africa)
      War on poverty (giving money to help poor communities develop)
      Help the aged (money to help old people with no family support)
      Education for all (giving money to provide teachers and schools in the third world)
      Cancer research (money to help scientists find drugs to fight diseases)
      Other causes?

    d. What type of methods do charities use to raise money?

  2. Read and find out

    If you or your school/university have been involved in any events relating to Red Nose Day you can use your experience to help students have more practical examples of what goes on and why. Be careful to clarify the meaning of comedians as this is a false friend (notably in France) and they could think it means ‘actors’.

    a. When is Red Nose Day? March 14th
    b. Who sells the red noses and who buys them? Shops sell them and the public buy
    c. Why do they wear red noses? To show they support the causes, the charity Comic Relief.
    d. What is this year’s nose like? Hairy (if you have experience of others tell them about it)

    A silly day. A serious day.

    Every year the British charity Comic Relief has a special day for raising money. This day is called Red Nose Day because shops sell funny red noses and people wear them to school or work. Last year over four and a half million people wore the noses and the money they spent went to help special causes in the UK and in Africa. But noses are just a small part of the day.

    Comic Relief uses humour and the comic talents of Britain’s best comedians to produce very funny shows on TV. During the shows the presenters ask the public to telephone and send money to help people all around the world. On the same day schools and people at work or home organise events to raise money for the charity. Last year the Harry Potter author J K Rowling wrote 2 books to raise money, the British group Westlife gave the money from their number one record and millions of television viewers sent donations. Sixty one million pounds were raised to help orphans in Rwanda, Aids victims in Africa and disabled people in the UK. And everyone had fun raising the money!

    Each year the red noses change. This year’s nose is hairy. The theme of Red Nose Day is the ‘big hair day’. The charity wants people to do something silly with their hair to raise money. Some people are going to wear a silly wig to work or colour their hair a strange colour. One man is planning to have all his hair cut off and friends and family will pay him to do it. This haircut money will go to the charity. So if you are in the UK on March 14th do not be surprised if you see lots of silly people with strange hair and red noses. You might even see a car or a bus wearing a red nose. They might seem a bit silly but it is all for a good cause!!

  3. Complete this summary

    Comic Relief is ……………………………………………..a UK charity.
    Their main ways of raising money are………………………. Through TV comedy programmes asking for donations and events throughout the country organised by the public
    The money raised goes to…………………………………..projects in the UK and Africa.

    Find out about a charity in your country or area:
    What do they do? How do they raise money?

  4. Fund raising ideas

    Run through the first couple of examples and discuss around the class. Put students in pairs to continue. Emphasise the idea of sponsored events, make sure the mechanics of sponsoring people is clear. At this point clarify the meaning of silly as compared to funny. Silly is funny behaviour that is also a bit absurd/ridiculous .You might find that your host nation has a very different take on what is funny or absurd. What do they know of British comedy?

    Which of the following would you do for charity?

      Run a marathon
      Cut off all your hair
      Swim a kilometre
      Climb a mountain
      Wear a fancy dress costume to school/work
      Eat as many cakes as you can
      Drink as many beers as you can
      Stay silent for as long as you can
      Stand on your head for as long as you can
      Sing some songs in the street
      Wear your underwear over your clothes
      Make something and sell it
      Sell your old toys and possessions

    Which of these activities could be described as silly?
    Can you think of any other ways to raise money for a good cause?

  5. Silly experiences

    If you have a good group and/or do not wish to focus too much on the charity aspect you can develop the discussion on humour. Take 5 or 6 single picture cartoon jokes (like those in Private Eye). Put students in groups to classify them as 0 - 10 in the funny stakes. Which types of humour appeal most? Try to give them a varied collection: one with no words, with dialogue, with a heading (see Gary Larsen’s The Far Side or Glen Baxter)

    The TV programmes and the events on Red Nose Day make a lot of people smile.
    What makes you smile? Have you got a sense of humour?

    a. What’s the silliest thing you have ever done?
    b. What’s the silliest joke/story you have ever heard?
    c. Who is the silliest person you know?

  6. Plan a big hair day

    If students seem to have experience of participating in events and enjoy the idea of Red Nose Day.

    Plan a big hair day event for your school. What things could you do in one morning to try and raise money with pupils, teachers and parents? Present your plan to the rest of the class. Have a class vote for the best plan or the silliest plan!!.

More suggestions for follow up activities

  1. A big hair day quiz: Take pictures of stars and celebrities known or liked by the age range. Remove the face and photocopy or paste on cards. Can they recognise the person from their hair? Add a few fun ones like Bart Simpson, Eminem or someone completely bald!! Make some silly big hair questions:

      What colour is X’s hair?
      Has X got straight, wavy or curly hair?
      Which of these 3 people does not have long hair?

  2. Take one of the true stories from the red nose site. The personalities represent people who have been excluded in some way from fully participating in normal life through disability or prejudice. The theme of this year’s Red Nose Day is exclusion. Students plan questions to find out more information about the person (you can print up a photo). You could create an information gap giving different bits of information to each member of a small group. They pool their resources to create a short text.

      Where does he/she come from? How old?
      Why does Comic Relief help them? How does the charity help?


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