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:

I spy with my little eye

“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 😉

Related posts:

A piece of cake or a hard nut to crack?

You make my heart BEET 😉

The proof is in the pudding

Yummy Yummy I’ve got food in my tummy

Stative noughts and dynamic crosses

This is a free board game to practise/revise stative and dynamic verbs in an entertaining way. Students create sentences using stative and dynamic verbs and if their sentence is correct, they add either an O or an X to the board until they line up 6 symbols in a row.

Level: A2+

Time: 30 – 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To define what stative and dynamic verbs are 
  2. To identify stative and dynamic verbs
  3. To practise by creating sentences with stative and dynamic verbs 
  4.  To line up 6 symbols (O or X) in a row

 Materials (Click on the worksheets below to download the PDF files):

 

Procedure:

  1. Elicit some examples of stative verbs vs. dynamic verbs and write them on the board. Ask students to also identify verbs that could be both stative and dynamic.
  2. Divide the students into teams and hand out Stative noughts & dynamic crosses board game to each team or simply display it on the screen for everyone to see.
  3. To see who starts, do rock, paper, scissors.  Whoever wins chooses the square they want to start with. Next the player(s) identifies if the verb is stative, dynamic or both and comes up with a sentence using that verb e.g. expect (both dynamic and stative): I am expecting a baby. I expect you will be on time tomorrow. If the player(s) manage to do it correctly, they add either an O or an X to the board. The first player to line up 6 of their symbols in a row wins. 
  4. Monitor at all times and go through some of the most problematic sentences together at the end of the class. At home, ask students to write example sentences with all the verbs that they did not get to use in the game or the ones that they are still unsure about.

Related posts:

Active noughts & passive crosses

A blast from the past

This is A blast from the past board game to practise/revise past simple and past continuous. Students create sentence endings in the past simple and past continuous tense using appropriate conjunctions e.g. while and when and adverbs e.g. just. 

Level: A2+

Time: 50 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To revise the past simple and past continuous tense.
  2. To use appropriate conjunctions e.g. while, as and when and adverbs e.g. just with the past simple and past continuous tense.
  3. To complete sentences using the correct form of the past simple or past continuous tense.

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

Procedure:

  1. Hand out A blast from the past to each team or simply display it on the screen.
  2. The teacher or a student throws the die twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the sentence half. 
  3. The player now tries to come up with an appropriate ending for the sentence half they have landed on e.g. He was playing a computer game … while I was playing with the cat. He was playing a computer game … when someone knocked on the door. He broke his leg … when he was playing pool (a dangerous sport). To make it more entertaining I would turn this game into a mini competition and maybe award points for the most ridiculous, crazy and creative sentences.
  4. Monitor at all times and go through some of the most problematic sentences together. 

Related posts:

Before and after

Simply perfect

A trip down memory lane

Summary of past or recent events

Double Decker

Best birthday ever

How to…

Introduction:

How to board game is a great speaking/writing activity to describe a process and/or procedure using the appropriate linking words. The activity can be easily adapted to different levels and ages.

I have also included three assignments completed by my students who kindly allowed me to share them online. Thank you.

Level: A2+

Time: 30 minutes +

Objectives:

  1. To describe a process/procedure
  2. To revise/practise linking words used to describe a process

Materials (Click on the worksheets below to download the PDF files):

Procedure:

  1. Hand out How to board game to each team/pair or simply display it on the screen if you are working online.
  2. Before you start the game go through expressions to describe a process e.g. first, once, having, the next step is, next, then, finally etc. 
  3. The teacher or a student throws the die twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question.
  4. Now student(s) describe a process using the expressions provided. Encourage students to use passive voice and especially the Present Simple Passive. It will instantly make them sound more capable and in control.
  5. Monitor and make sure students use linking expressions throughout their description. I would also encourage them to use the linking words in the middle of the sentence as well as at the beginning to avoid sounding repetitive. You want your students to sound fluent and natural rather than robotic so discourage them from peppering the entire description with linking words. I have some students who love doing that and it doesn’t always elevate their speech 😉
  6. Monitor students throughout the activity, correct mistakes and feed them new vocabulary.
  7. At home ask students to choose one example from the board and do a piece of writing. I have asked my students to do the same and they very kindly allowed me to share their creations on my blog. Feel free to have a look and use the pieces as sources of inspiration because that’s what they are…inspiring 😉

Related posts:

How do you …?

Click!Click!Click!

The art of conversation…

Name three

Soap Opera

The art of conversation…

Introduction:

The art of conversation is an activity to practise functional language and discuss a variety of topics. The expressions I have used in this activity have been “extracted” from a variety of podcasts I listen to daily. I actually found the task of fishing for these expressions quite fascinating as I don’t normally pay much attention to functional language when I am not working. I have come to realise just how rich some people’s functional language is and how helpful it is (especially) for language learners to know how to use it with ease. One of my students told me that these expressions, once assimilated and automated, served as stepping stones or mini pauses, that gave him more time to think and formulate his next idea. Thank you for your feedback J.

I have also asked two students to record a short conversation where they used the expressions provided to give you an idea of how to do it with great flair and passion 😉 A massive thank you to C&G for sharing the recording. You are a dream team.

Level: B1+

Time: 30 minutes, but it can vary depending on the number of students and of course on how talkative they are

Objectives:

  1. To revise and practise using expressions to: start a conversation, express your opinion, agree and disagree, get back to the point and round it all off 
  2. To practise fluency by discussing a variety of topics

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

The art of conversation, C&G radio show. Thank you guys 😉

Procedure:

  1. In pairs ask students to brainstorm expressions to: start a conversation, express your opinion, agree and disagree, get back to the point and round off a conversation.
  2. Go through the expressions together and when the students run out of ideas, hand out The art of conversation to each team/pair or display it on the screen.
  3. Write a debate topic on the board and give students a few minutes to prepare. The expressions are color coded and each colour corresponds to a different category (the ones listed in point 1). During the conversation/debate students should use at least ONE expression from each category. Encourage them to use NEW expressions or ones that they like or are likely to incorporate into their existing vocabulary.
  4. For a list of debate topics feel free to use my Yay or Nay board game. You will find the link in Related posts section at the bottom of the page.
  5. Switch to the new topic if the students have lost momentum or once they have each used at least 6 expressions. Ask students to tick off the expressions as they go.
  6. Of course as always, correct mistakes and feed students new vocabulary.
  7. At home, you could ask students to record a similar dialogue to the one my students have recorded for you. It was a great opportunity for them to use the expressions again and by the looks of it… they had a whale of a time. Thank you again C&G.

Related posts:

Yay or Nay

Compare & contrast board game

Agony Aunt with a twist

Click!Click!Click!

Never have I ever…

Introduction:

Never have I ever … board game is a great game that incites stories with players sharing what they’ve done and haven’t done which helps classmates get to know each other better. The activity can be easily adapted to different levels and I am sure you have played this game yourself more than once, although I would guess you played it in an entirely different setting 😉

I have also included a Never have I ever … Travelling edition board game if you fancy doing something related to summer holidays. Perfect timing.

Level: A2+

Time: 30 minutes, but it can vary depending on the number of students and of course on how talkative and engaged they are or how engaged you make them 😉

Objectives:

  1. To answer Never have I ever questions…
  2. To recount stories from the classmates’ lives 
  3. To get to know other better 

Materials (Click on the worksheets below to download the PDF files):

Procedure:

  1. Hand out Never have I ever… board game to each team/pair or simply display it on the screen.
  2. Before you start the game, ask students to take two pieces of paper and write Yes, I have on one and No, I have never on the other and tell them you are going to ask them ALL a question which they have to answer by raising one of the pieces of paper they have prepared.
  3. The teacher then throws the dice twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the phrase/question e.g. Never have I ever cut my own hair. 
  4. Ask students to explain their answers. I deliberately chose not to take score or drink (like you would in a traditional version of this game) as I wanted to concentrate on speaking more than anything else, but if you think it could work with your younger learners (not the shots of course but playing with points) go for it. Depending on the group I do this activity with, I choose whether to join in or just manage the game instead which allows me to monitor more effectively. This too depends on the relationship you have with your students.
  5. Of course as always, correct mistakes and feed students new vocabulary. 
  6. At home, ask students to choose 3 things from the board they haven’t done but would love to try and ask them to briefly explain their reasons in writing.

Click!Click!Click!

Introduction:

This is a fun activity you can do with students to practise describing photographs using speculative language. The activity could be used simply as general speaking practice or to help students prepare for Cambridge speaking exams. Students look at a photo and answer questions using language of speculation. All the photos are of me (Please don’t laugh) but feel free to replace them with your own photos to make it more personal.

I have also included a written task sample courtesy of one of my younger learners to show you how they handled the task and a recording of a description of Image 1, courtesy of my lovely friend Adam. Feel free to use it to model the task to your students or turn it into a listening task 😉

Level: A2+

Time: 35 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To describe a photo using the questions provided 
  2. To make predictions about the photo
  3. To practise using speculative and deductive language  

Materials:

A description of Image 1 (by Adam). Thank you 😉

Procedure:

  1. Before you start the activity ask students to give you some examples of language of speculation e.g I suppose…, I expect…, It is possible…, It is probable that…, I can’t see… etc. 
  2. Display one of the images on the screen ( I have prepared 5 photos of myself that you are free to use but you could use your own photos too) if you are teaching online.
  3. Put students in pairs or small groups and ask them to describe the photos to each other using the questions provided (ask students to answer ALL the questions AND in order) using speculative language displayed next to the photos. Monitor and offer help whenever necessary.
  4. Next, still in the same groups, ask students to try and agree on the answers especially when the more speculative questions are concerned. Once they have come up with one version per group/per pair, ask them to choose a spokesperson who is going to present their answers to the rest of the class.
  5. When all the groups or pairs have finished presenting their versions, you can give them the REAL story behind the image. BOOM. Of course you can skip this stage if you are using my photos. This is actually the most enjoyable part of the activity as students get to see if their predictions about the snippets from my/your/their life are accurate or not. So often we ask students to describe random images that are completely irrelevant to their lives instead of using our own images which makes it so much more exciting. 
  6. The group with the highest number of correct answers wins. I deliberately choose photos with interesting background stories.
  7. You can continue the activity with my photos or ask students to use their own images. Make sure students are still using speculative language throughout the activity.
  8. Enjoy 😉

Related posts:

If my memory serves me right…

Describe me

Introduction:

Describe me board game is a great activity to either teach or revise adjective word order. The activity can be easily adapted to different levels and keeps the students engaged as they progress through writing simple descriptive sentences to creating short, also descriptive, stories, letters etc.

I have also made three other boards if you want your students to describe something more specific or revise vocabulary related to a particular topic: a crime scene, a holiday or a perfect outfit. Take your pick and enjoy 😉

Two of my lovely students kindly allowed me to share their work to give you an idea of how they have dealt with the tasks. One has written four short stories using the Describe me board and the other has written an informal letter telling me all about the holiday he has just returned from and using the Describe me hols board game. Thank you for allowing me to share your work. 

Level: A2+

Time:

45 minutes, but it can vary depending on the number of students and of course on how talkative and engaged they are or how engaged you make them;)

Objectives:

  1. To revise the correct order of adjectives in a sentence
  2. To write sentences using the correct adjective word order
  3. To write short stories, letters etc. using the correct adjective word order and the nouns provided

Materials (Click on the worksheets below to download the PDF files):

Procedure:

  1. Before you start the game ask students to give you examples of adjectives and write them on the board. Encourage students to think of a wide variety of adjectives e.g. shape and material and not only colour and size.
  2. Go through the basic order of adjectives with your students: Opinion, size, shape, age, colour,origin, material, and purpose. Write down a few example sentences on the board before you play the game. Also ask students to categorize the adjectives they gave you at the beginning.
  3. Hand out Describe me board game to each team/pair or simply display it on the screen if you are using Zoom or any other online platform.
  4. The teacher or a student throws the die twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain a noun. The nouns in the Describe me game are divided into six categories: a place, an object, a job, a piece of clothing/accessories, a situation and an animal to ensure a wide variety of adjectives used.
  5. Now students write, individually, a sentence describing the chosen noun and using as many adjectives as possible but making sure the sentences actually make sense e.g. She bought a beautiful small white Scottish cat.
  6. Students then read the sentences out loud and get a POINT for each correctly placed adjective. Encourage students to listen to others and award extra points if they manage to spot a mistake in a classmate’s sentence.
  7. Next, students choose a noun from each category and write a short descriptive story. You can put the students in pairs or groups or ask them to work individually. Decide what is best for your students based on their age, level etc. Have a look at the task samples I have provided and which you can find in the materials section.
  8. Monitor students throughout the activity, correct mistakes and feed them new adjectives. 
  9. At the end of the class ask students to share their stories with their classmates 😉 You will be surprised how creative they can get.

Alternative ideas:

  1. Describe me Crime Scene. Students describe a crime scene after choosing six nouns from six categories: a piece of evidence, a type of weapon, a person, a place, a type of crime and a punishment. 
  2. Describe me Hols. Students could describe their last holiday, their dream holiday, plan an ideal holiday for their best friends etc. using the nouns from the following categories (all colour coded so it is easier to navigate): a type of holiday, holiday activities, a means of transport, a place, a person and a season/type of holiday.
  3. Describe me Outfit Ideas. Students could describe an appropriate or inappropriate outfit for different occasions, using the nouns from the following categories: a piece of clothing, an occasion, a person, an accessory, a place and a time of day.

P. S. This post is dedicated to two lovely small fluffy kittens U&F 😉 and their two amazing and caring owners A&H.

Related posts:

Who are you?

Who are you? Sequel

Mirror Mirror on the wall…

MEOW!

CAE examination? Beat frustration with thorough preparation

Bookworms & Film Buffs

Are you bored or just boring?

Wanted

Ask a Q board game