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.
- 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 😉
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
Time: 60 minutes
- To introduce idioms with body parts.
- To complete the idioms with different body parts.
- To match the idioms to their definitions.
- To complete the questions with the missing body parts.
- To answer the questions containing the target language.
- To complete the sentences with the missing idioms.
- Hand out a copy of From head to toe to each student or display it on the screen.
- 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.
- Check together as a class.
- 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.
- Now ask students to match the idioms to their definitions.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Check together as a class.
Fast finisher ideas:
- Ask students to choose 4 or 5 idioms and draw their literal and figurative meaning.
- Research the origin of a chosen idiom and later share your findings with the rest of the class.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.” Little Prince