4 elements

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise idioms with the elements: air, earth, fire and water. Students first complete the expressions with the missing words, match the idioms to their definitions, complete the sentences in Exercise 2 and then decide if these sentences are true for me, the teacher. I came up with my own examples to personalise the activity. You could do the same or simply ask students to decide if the sentences are true for them.

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of idioms with air, earth, fire and water.
  2. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  3. To complete the sentences with the missing idioms and then decide if the sentences are true for the teacher or the students themselves.

Materials:

  1. 4 elements Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out a copy of 4 elements Worksheet and ask students to complete the expressions with the words air, earth, fire and water. When they are finished ask them to compare with their classmate(s).
  2. Check together as a class, but before you give students the answers make sure they compare as a whole class. Always encourage them to justify their answers to each other and, if they are sure of their answers, to try and convince others they are correct.
  3. Ask the students to match the expressions to their definitions. The students could first work individually and then compare with their partners, but once they get into groups or pairs they must agree on the answers. It encourages discussions and forces students to engage and defend their answers rather than mindlessly/distractedly do the task before moving on to the next one.
  4. Check together as a class.
  5. When the students have finished, ask them to complete sentences in Exercise 2 with the missing idioms.
  6. When they have finished, ask them to swap their sheets with a partner and peer correct.
  7. Check together as a class.
  8. Next students look at the sentences and try to decide which of them are true for their teacher (you can obviously use my examples but I would encourage you to come up with your own to make it more personal). Encourage students to give reasons for their choices to keep the conversation going, e.g. I think number 3 is correct. Karolina is constantly talking about her sister and all the things they do together. I imagine they must have a great relationship and get on like a house on fire.
  9. When they are finished ask them to ask you questions to check if they were correct, using the new expressions, e.g. Are you still up in the air about where to go on holiday in July? This also gives you the chance to correct and for students to yet again recycle the idioms.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to come up with sentences that are true for them using the expressions they have learnt. Always encourage them to write down what is TRUE for them. It makes the activities much more personal and memorable.

Related posts:

Clothes do (not) make the man

Zzz

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

There is no place like…school

Somewhere over the rainbow 

P.S. “Some women are lost in the fire. Some women are built from it.” ― Michelle K.

What a zoo

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise animal idioms. Students first answer a few questions, complete the idioms with the missing animals, match them to their definitions and answer some questions using the target language. Although the activity is quite hard I have done it with many different levels and by encouraging, providing the right scaffolding and guiding my students I managed to keep them going despite the difficulty.

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of animal idioms.
  2. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  3. To answer questions containing the target language in pairs.

Materials:

  1. What a zoo Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out each student a copy of What a zoo Worksheet.
  2. Tell students to, in pairs, answer questions in Exercise 1.
  3. Next ask students to complete the idioms with the missing animals. Bear 🙂 in mind that they will not know the majority of the expressions, but resist the urge to give them the answers. In one group I had all the students working relentlessly to try and come up with the right answers by applying logic, giving examples in their mother tongue (Spanish) until eventually they got ALL the answers right. It was an absolute pleasure to watch them and guide them. I have to add that I have an unshakeable belief in my students’ abilities and they can clearly sense it and as a result often are happy to deal with tasks that, initially, seem far too hard for them. With time however the VAST majority accepts the responsibility for their own learning in my classroom and they try and work things out for themselves.
  4. Check together as a class. Again here I always ask EVERYONE to compare FIRST rather than list the right answers. At this stage people often have some mistakes and if they do, there is usually someone in the classroom who is able to peer correct. It makes students so much more confident when you show them they can do it without your help but you are always present to provide the support and guidance if they are at a loss.
  5. Ask the students to match the idioms to their definitions. Again students work in pairs to encourage cooperation and show them how much they can learn from each other and that the teacher is NOT the only source of knowledge in the classroom. I don’t want my students to ever become too dependent on me. I value autonomy greatly and try to help them develop tools to be as independent of me as possible.
  6. Check together as a class.
  7. When the students have finished, ask them to look at the questions in Exercise 3 and first try and write down the animal idioms that match the definitions in bold. I encourage them to do it from memory first as it’s a great way to start recycling vocabulary and make them think and engage. I often turn these exercises into mini competitions to add some excitement.
  8. When they have finished, ask them to compare with their partner. Again comparing never means mindlessly looking through each other’s answers but justifying your choices which is always a great extra speaking activity and an opportunity to use the idioms again and again.
  9. Students now answer the questions in pairs or small groups using the animal idioms as often as possible.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to draw four expressions they have learnt in class in their notebooks.

Related posts:

Cat got your tongue? Speak up

MEOW!

All hands on deck, kids

Can’t stop dishing out idioms

Nothing changes if nothing changes

P.S. Happy Birthday Natalusia.

 

I spy with my little eye

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise idioms with the word EYE. Students first divide the expressions into 3 categories and then answer the questions and discuss their responses with their classmates.

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of idioms with the word EYE.
  2. To develop fluency and answer questions containing the target language in pairs.

Materials:

  1. I spy with my little eye Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out a copy of I spy with my little eye Worksheet and ask students to place the sheets of paper in front of them FACE DOWN.
  2. Tell them to, on the word GO, turn over the worksheet, scan the expressions in Exercise 1 and try to, as fast as the can, find the one body part that completes all expressions. My students all loved this mini competition at the start of the class and instantly became very engaged.
  3. Next ask students to complete the idioms with the word EYE or EYES.
  4. Check together as a class.
  5. Ask the students to divide the expressions into three categories, into those that they know well (I could define it with my eyes shut), those they have heard of but have never used (There is more to it than meets the eye), and those they have never come across before (Please open my eyes to it).
  6. When the students have finished, ask them to answer questions in Exercise 2 out of order on a separate piece of paper or in their notebooks and in as LITTLE detail as possible. Tell students to avoid writing just a YES or NO.
  7. When they have finished, ask them to swap their sheets with a partner.
  8. Students now try to identify which answers correspond to which questions.
  9. When the students have finished, ask them to swap the sheets again and check if their classmates were correct.
  10. Next students discuss their answers; with the same classmates they swapped their sheets with, in GREATER detail.
  11. When the students have finished, ask them to share 2 answers that they had in common and 2 that were different.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to draw four expressions they have learnt in class in their notebooks.

Related posts:

All hands on deck, kids

Can’t stop dishing out idioms

Zzz

There is no place like…school

Somewhere over the rainbow 

You make my heart BEET 😉

Actions speak louder than words

Ups and downs

All rise please

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Half full or half empty?

 

All hands on deck, kids

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise transport idioms. Students complete the idioms with the missing words, match the idioms to their definitions, do a few vocabulary games and later interview their classmates.

Level: B2+

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To present students with transport idioms.
  2. To complete the idioms in Exercise 1 with the missing transport words.
  3. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  4. To answer questions containing the target vocabulary in pairs or small groups.

Materials:

  1. All hands on deck, kids Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Ask students to briefly discuss their favourite/ least favourite means of transport.
  2. Hand out a copy of All hands on deck, kids Worksheet and ask students to individually complete the idioms in Exercise 1 with the missing transport words. There are two extra words to make the activity slightly more challenging.
  3. When the students have finished, ask them to compare in small groups and then check together as a class.
  4. Next students match the idioms to their definitions on the right. When the students have finished, ask them to compare in small groups again and then check together as a class.
  5. Clarify meaning if necessary.
  6. Divide the students in small groups (2 or 3 students in each group).
  7. One student from each group draws one of the expressions on the board and the players from the other teams try to guess what the expression is. Each team only has two opportunities to guess. Ensure ALL the students have had an opportunity to draw an idiom (you might have to do 2 or 3 rounds depending on the number of students on each team). Each team receives 1 point for a correctly identified expression.
  8. Next, the students take it in turns to act out the expressions silently, with the players from other teams trying to guess the idiom.
  9. Then, the students describe the expressions using THREE WORDS only (thank you Alex) but must not use any of the words that are in the expressions.
  10. Finally, in their teams of two or three, ask the students to complete the idioms in Exercise 2. Tell them to fold the paper so they do the exercise from memory. I gave one point to the team who finished first and one point to the team who completed all the idioms correctly.
  11. When the students have finished, ask them to discuss the questions 1-12, Exercise 2 in pairs.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to write down as many expressions as they can remember without looking at the paper.

Related posts:

There is no place like…school

Actions speak louder than words

Ups and downs

All rise please

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Half full or half empty?

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Introduction: 

These are activities to introduce and practise idioms describing physical appearance. Students complete the idioms with the missing words, divide the idioms into Beauty and Beast categories, do a Find Someone Who activity and play a board game. As you can see there are plenty of opportunities to recycle new vocabulary. By the end of the lesson students will have used each idiom at least 6 or 7 times.

Level: C1

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce idioms describing physical appearance.
  2. To complete the idioms with the missing words.
  3. To divide the idioms into two categories Beauty and Beast.
  4. To find students who, e.g. think that new born babies are as ugly as sin, write their names next to the sentences and ask for more details (Exercise 2).
  5. To answer questions about beauty whilst playing a board game.

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

  1. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder Worksheet, one per student.
  2. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder board game, one per group.

Procedure:

  1. Write The beholder eye the is beauty in of on the board. Ask students to unscramble the phrase and in pairs discuss if they agree or disagree with it.
  2. Hand the students Beauty is in the eye of the beholder Worksheet.
  3. Individually, students complete the idioms in Exercise 1 with the missing words.
  4. When the students have finished, they compare their answers with a partner.
  5. Check the answers as a class.
  6. Now, individually again, the students decide if the idioms are used to describe attractive (Beauty) or unattractive people (Beast).
  7. When they have finished, ask them to compare with their partner.
  8. Elicit answers from students.
  9. Next, students complete the missing words in the idioms again (exercise 2). Ask them to fold the sheet and try and do it from memory first. I try to use every opportunity for students to play with the new vocabulary as much as possible and in as many ways as possible to increase their chances of remembering the idioms.
  10. Students now mingle and try to get affirmative answers from their classmates, e.g. find someone who thinks newborn babies are as ugly as sin. If the other student says ‘yes’ they have to elaborate on their answer. Allow no more than 3 minutes for each interview. When the time is up ask students to switch partners.
  11. When the students have had a chance to ask everyone’s opinion, ask them which answers surprised them the most.
  12. Next put the students in groups of 2 or 3, and give them a copy of Beauty is in the eye of the beholder board game and a die.
  13. 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.
  14. When a player lands on a square all three players must answer the question from that square in as much detail as possible. Encourage students to ask each other additional questions to obtain more information. When a player lands on a square with a phrase they must use it to form a question for their partner(s) e.g.  When was the last time you were dressed to kill?
  15. The game continues in the circle going left.
  16. At the end, ask students what they found out about their classmates.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to briefly answer one of the questions (in writing) on the board game using at least 3 of the idioms studied.

Related posts:

Cold reading

Who are you?

MEOW!

Mirror Mirror on the wall…

Wanted

Recommended podcast:

http://activateyourielts.libsyn.com/ielts-vocabulary-tips-for-teachers-and-students

Check out my friend’s podcast. This week we talked about learning and recycling new vocabulary and I think it makes for an interesting episode. Enjoy.

 

A good old chin wag

Introduction: 

This is a starter you can use with any new group, or at the beginning of any class, really. Students complete the sentences individually and look for the students whose strips of paper they have selected, to interview them further. I have purposefully chosen sentences that hopefully will encourage students to respond in a positive way to make them feel good throughout the activity, especially if it is their first class and they don’t know the teacher and/or the classmates.

Note: This activity could be adapted if you want to use a warmer related to a specific topic, e.g. describing personalities. I have created an example worksheet for you called ‘It’s all me, me, me…’

Level: B1+

Time: 30 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To complete the sentences with students’ own ideas.
  2. To get to know other students better.

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

  1. A good old chin wag Worksheet
  2. It_s all me, me, me Worksheet ( Topic related warmer)

Procedure:

  1. Print one or two copies of A good old chin wag worksheet and cut the paper into strips.
  2. Hand each student two or three strips of paper and ask them to complete them individually with their answers, making sure they put their names on each piece.
  3. When the students have finished, put the strips in a container, e.g. a hat, and mix them up.
  4. Go round the classroom and ask students to pick two or three pieces of paper from the hat. If they pick one of their own, ask them to choose another one.
  5. Next, students walk around the classroom, find and speak to the students who completed the sentences on their pieces of paper. Students chat to each other and try to get more information from each other, e.g. I get great pleasure from drinking coffee. Oh really? How many coffees do you drink a day? Do you like it black or white? Etc.
  6. At the end ask students to share what they found out about their classmates.

P.S. Thank you Alex.

All rise please

Introduction: 

These are activities for students to introduce crime idioms. Students match the idioms with their definitions, complete the sentences with the missing expressions, rate the crimes, answer questions about crime and interview their classmates.

Level: C1

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce crime idioms.
  2. To match the idioms with their definitions.
  3. To rate the crimes from the most to the least serious one.
  4. To answer questions containing the target language and interview a classmate.

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

  1. All rise please Worksheetone per student.

Procedure:

  1. Put students in pairs and ask them to discuss the following questions: What do you think the most common crime in your country is? Should police in your country be more strict or less strict? Do you think criminals can change? What crime would you commit if you could get away with it?
  2. Hand students All rise please Worksheet.
  3. Ask students to cover the definitions on the right and in pairs see how many idioms they could define before they match the expressions to the definitions provided. I found my students could accurately predict at least half the expressions given.
  4. Individually, students now match the idioms 1 to 11 to the definitions provided.
  5. When the students have finished, they compare their answers with a partner.
  6. Check the answers as a class.
  7. Next ask students to complete the sentences 1- 11 with the missing idioms.
  8. Check the answers as a class.
  9. Individually ask students to underline and rate the crimes in 1-11 from the most (1) to the least serious (11) one and then discuss their choices with their classmates.
  10. Now students individually answer the questions 1-11 (in RANDOM order and in as little detail as possible (Exercise 2).
  11. Once the students have finished ask them to cut the paper along the dotted line and give the sheet with JUST their answers to their partner.
  12. In pairs students now interview each other, e.g. Student A: Why did you write plenty of time to read in number 1? Student B: Because it is one of the advantages of doing time. Encourage the students to ask additional questions to obtain more details.
  13. After a few minutes ask students to switch partners and repeat the exercise. Repeat a few more times to make sure students recycle the expressions and use them in a variety of contexts.
  14. At the end ask students if they have spoken to anyone whose answers were identical to theirs.

Fast finishers:

  1. I asked my students to invent a crime and agree on the main points, e.g. a man was killed by his wife who found out he had been cheating on her with her best friend. Individually or in pairs students now write a police report describing the incident in great detail and using the expressions studied.

Related posts:

Wanted

Ups and downs

Actions speak louder than words

Can’t stop dishing out idioms

You make my heart BEET 😉

There is no place like…school

Zzz

Somewhere over the rainbow 

The proof is in the pudding

Nothing changes if nothing changes

It’s game time