From head to toe

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise body part idioms. Students complete the idioms with the missing body parts, match the expressions to their definitions, complete the questions with body parts and then the sentences with the idioms.

Teacher tips: 

  1. Ask students to define what the expressions mean before you give them your definitions. I found that they were able to define the majority of the expressions if not all of them. Here are the examples of some definitions my students gave in class (in brackets): To be off your head (crazy), To find your feet (to get to know something, to settle down, to adapt to smth), To get out of hand (to lose control), To get a slap on the wrist (to be warned, to be threatened, to be punished), To give someone the cold shoulder (to stand someone up, to ignore someone), To keep your nose clean (to do things correctly, to do what is expected of you, not to draw attention to yourself, to avoid making a mistake), To keep someone on their toes (to control, to keep track of), To play it by ear (to improvise, let’s see how it goes), To stick one’s neck out (to be brave, to have courage). Well done you guys 😉
  2. Make sure students understand the difference between to keep sb on their toes and to keep your nose clean as some of my students got a bit confused.
  3. When introducing new vocabulary and embedding it in a sentence, think of examples that make the meaning of the new word/ expression very clear. This is not the time to be subtle. I have often made a mistake of providing students with examples that were either too vague or contained more new vocabulary which confused them further. Exercise 4 example 3 He had only been out of prison for a month, so he was trying to keep his nose clean caused some confusion and students thought to find your feet also made sense.
  4. Research the origin of each idiom before the class. It is not only fun but also helpful for students to know the story behind the expressions and it is so much easier to memorise something you can associate with an image, an anecdote, a joke etc. My favorite idiom in this lesson is to find one’s feet which is believed to refer to babies standing up and learning to walk (Source: http://www.theidioms.com)

Level: B2+

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce idioms with body parts.
  2. To complete the idioms with different body parts.
  3. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  4. To complete the questions with the missing body parts.
  5. To answer the questions containing the target language.
  6. To complete the sentences with the missing idioms.

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Hand out a copy of From head to toe to each student or display it on the screen.
  2. In pairs, ask students to unscramble the letters in each sentence to form the names of body parts. Even if the students don’t know any of the expressions they will still be able to complete the task with the letters provided which sets them up for success from the start. 
  3. Check together as a class.
  4. Ask students to come up with their own definitions of the idioms using the context provided. Many of my students were able to do it really well and it motivated them even more which was very satisfying to watch.
  5. Now ask students to match the idioms to their definitions.
  6. Check together as a class but again ask students to first compare their answers with their classmates and justify their answers. In most cases they will be able to see how similar their definitions were to the actual definitions of the idioms, which builds students’ confidence and shows them how much they can get from context and without the teacher’s help.
  7. Go to Exercise 3 and ask students to complete the questions with the missing body parts. Encourage them to do the exercise from memory. When they have finished, ask them to compare with their partner and then check together as a class. In pairs or small groups students now answer the questions.
  8. Last but not least go to Exercise 4 and ask students to complete the sentences with the missing idioms and again try to do it from memory. 
  9. Check together as a class.

Fast finisher ideas:

  1. Ask students to choose 4 or 5 idioms and draw their literal and figurative meaning.
  2. Research the origin of a chosen idiom and later share your findings with the rest of the class.

Related posts:

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“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.” Little Prince

Clothes do (not) make the man sequel

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise clothes idioms. Students complete the idioms with the missing items of clothing, match the expressions to their definitions and complete the sentences with the missing items of clothing.

Teacher tips (Me being wise after the fact and after testing the activity with a few groups): 

  1. Make sure students know that the clues in Exercise 1 are clues to help them determine the items of clothing missing from the expressions. The clues are NOT the definitions of the idioms.
  2. Draw students’ attention to the fact that below the belt and to have under one’s belt are TWO different idioms with two different meanings. My students got a bit confused since the idioms are quite similar. I guess studying expressions that are alike is not the best strategy as it’s easy to get them mixed up, but I didn’t want to eliminate either of the two.
  3. Show students a picture of a bonnet. None of my students were familiar with the word so showing them some photos definitely helped. I don’t think the definition itself was enough to drive it home. I also showed them images of different types of hats especially cowboy, straw and top which were the last clues on the list.
  4. Research the origin of each idiom before the class. It is not only entertaining but also helpful for students to know the story behind the expressions they are studying and it is so much easier to memorise something you can associate with an image, an anecdote, a joke etc. 
  5. The examples in Exercise 3 are all true for me. I have noticed students really appreciate it if I personalise the activities or reveal something about myself so I would encourage you to create your own memorable examples to help your students get to know you better. It encourages discussion and cements your relationships.

Level: B2+

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce clothes with idioms.
  2. To complete the idioms with the items of clothing.
  3. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  4. To complete the sentences with the missing items of clothing.

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Put students in pairs or small groups and ask them to discuss the three fashion quotes below: 1. “What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.” —Miuccia Prada. 2. “Anyone can get dressed up and glamorous, but it is how people dress on their days off that are the most intriguing.” —Alexander Wang. 3. “Elegance is elimination.” —Cristóbal Balenciaga
  2. Hand out a copy of Clothes do (not) make the man sequel to each student or display it on the screen.
  3. In pairs, ask students to complete the expressions with the missing items of clothing. I have come up with some clues (on the right) to help students out and to make it less daunting. Even if the students don’t know any of the expressions they will still be able to complete the task with the clues provided which sets them up for success from the start. 
  4. Check together as a class.
  5. Ask students to match the idioms to their definitions (Exercise 2).
  6. Check together as a class but again ask students to first compare their answers with their partners and justify their answers to their classmate(s).
  7. Go to Exercise 3 and ask students to complete the sentences with the missing items of clothing. Encourage them to do the exercise without looking at the expressions. Turn this into a mini competition, provide students with new clues, images etc. or ask them to give clues to each other if they know the answers but their classmates don’t. 
  8. Check together as a class.
  9. In pairs or small groups students now tell their classmates if the sentences in Exercise 3 are true for them.
  10. Last but not least go to Exercise 4 and ask students to complete the sentences with the missing clothes again and yet again try to do it from memory. 
  11. Check together as a class.

Fast finisher ideas:

  1. Ask students to choose 4 or 5 idioms and draw their literal and figurative meaning
  2. Order the idioms according to how often you wear (Can you wear a pocket ?) the items of clothing in each idiom. I have a feeling a bonnet will not make it to the top of any list 😉 Just a wild guess
  3. Choose 3 idioms and write down what an antonym of each idioms is 
  4. Research the origin of a chosen idiom and later share your findings with the rest of the class

Related posts:

Clothes do (not) make the man

Mirror Mirror on the wall…

Describe me

Somewhere over the rainbow 

What a zoo

Tutti Frutti

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise fruit idioms. Students look at some fruit facts, complete the idioms with the missing fruit, match the expressions to their definitions, complete the sentences with the missing fruit and correct mistakes in the fruit idioms. I have deliberately come up with examples that are related to work, jobs etc. to be able to use this activity with my business students but feel free to use it with your general English classes also.

Teacher tip/reflection: 

I love researching the origins of idioms. I have found that students find it easier to memorise the expressions if there is a colourful story behind them that they can visualise. My favorite idiom in today’s activity is to go pear-shaped. Allegedly the phrase comes from the Royal Air Force and is used to describe pilots’ bad execution of loops in the air, ending up with pear shapes instead of round shapes (Source: grammarist.com). I also love the idiom to be the apple of one’s eye which originally referred to the pupil of the human eye which was believed to be a round object. As sight was a precious commodity at the time, the idiom soon became a metaphor for something precious as well (Source: grammarist.com).

Level: B2+

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of idioms with fruit.
  2. To complete the idioms with the missing fruit.
  3. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  4. To complete the sentences with the missing fruit.
  5. To correct the mistakes in the fruit idioms.

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Put students in pairs or small groups and ask them to discuss the 3 fruit facts below and decide which ones they are most surprised by. 1. A banana is not a fruit, it is a herb! Being easy to digest and highly nutritious, these are the first fruits offered to babies. 2. Strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside. There are 200 seeds in an average strawberry. 3. Tomatoes are not a veggie but a fruit. They are regarded as the world’s most popular fruit and have more genes than humans. Source: https://www.befitandfine.com/facts-of-fruits/
  2. Hand out a copy of Tutti Frutti to each student or display it on the screen.
  3. Individually ask students to complete the expressions with the missing fruit. I have come up with some clues (on the right) to help students out and to make it more fun. Vocabulary activities can be quite discouraging if the students are not familiar with any of the expressions, so I try to give students boosts of confidence as often as possible and giving them clues is a fun way to guide them towards finding the answers by themselves and engaging them from the start. 
  4. When they are finished ask them to compare with their classmate(s).
  5. Check together as a class.
  6. Ask the students to match the idioms to their definitions (Exercise 2).
  7. Check together as a class but again ask students to first compare their answers with their partners and justify their answers.
  8. When the students have finished, ask them to look at the sentences in Exercise 3 and complete the sentences with the missing fruit. Ask them to try and do the exercise without looking at the expressions. Turn this into a mini competition, provide students with new clues or ask them to give clues to each other if they know the answers but their classmates don’t. Always try to make it as active and engaging as possible. Encourage effort and collaboration, praise effort and willingness to keep trying rather than speed, efficiency and getting things right the first time. Encourage students to make mistakes and have fun.
  9. When they have finished, ask them to compare with their partner and then check together as a class.
  10. Last but not least go to Exercise 4 and ask students to replace the incorrect fruit with the correct one. Again have some fun with it and maybe do it in teams, pairs etc.
  11. Check together as a class.

Fast finisher ideas:

  1. Ask students to choose 4 or 5 idioms and draw their literal and figurative meaning. This activity is just begging for something artsy 😉 and some baking.
  2. Ask students to get into small groups or pairs to act out the idioms.
  3. Choose an idiom and use it as a writing prompt, the first line of a story, a theme behind a story etc. 
  4. Research the origin of a chosen idiom.

And before you go. What do you get when you put an iPhone in a blender? Apple juice! Feel free to cringe 😉

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Yummy Yummy I’ve got food in my tummy