This is a board game to introduce and practise idioms and phrases related to happiness and misery. Students divide the idioms into two categories: jumping for joy and running on empty (sad) and answer questions about happiness using the new idioms.

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes


  1. To introduce idioms related to happiness and misery.
  2. To divide the idioms into happy and not so much.
  3. To answer and ask questions about happiness and misery whilst playing a board game.

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

  1. Half full or half empty board game, one per group.


  1. Ask students to briefly discuss in pairs whether they consider themselves to be positive or negative people and give examples from their own life.
  2. Next write the following idioms and phrases on the board:
  • To be a bundle of joy
  • To be happy as a clam
  • To be in bits
  • To be on cloud nine
  • To be reduced to tears
  • To be walking on air
  • To feel like a dog with two tails
  • To have a face like a wet weekend
  • To have a whale of a time
  • To have the blues
  • To mope around
  • To take something hard
  1. In pairs ask students to divide the idioms above into two categories: jumping for joy (happy) and running on empty (sad).
  2. Check together as a class and make sure students know the meaning of each idiom.
  3. Put the students in groups of 2 or 3, and give them a copy of Half full or half empty board game and a die.
  4. Now ask the players to write down the “happy” idioms in the orange squares (orange supposedly evokes feelings of happiness, optimism and energy) and “unhappy “idioms in the blue squares (said to express sadness, but can also be calming and soothing so not all hope is lost).
  5. Players take it in turns to throw the die twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question.
  6. When a player lands on a square they must answer the question from that square in as much detail as possible AND using two idioms (they can choose from either the idioms in the same row or the same column). Encourage students to ask each other additional questions to obtain more information. When a player lands on a square with an idiom they must use it to form a question for their partner(s), e.g. Do you always have a whale of a time when you go out with your friends?
  7. The game continues in the circle going left.
  8. At the end, ask students what they found out about their classmates.

Fast finishers:

Give students the scrambled up idioms and ask them to unscramble them from memory:

  • A time have of a whale to
  • Like to with tails feel two a dog
  • Of a joy be bundle to
  • To clam be as happy a
  • To hard something take
  • To weekend face like a wet have a

Related posts:

Ups and downs

Can’t stop dishing out idioms

You make my heart BEET 😉


There is no place like…school

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