Random words (Once upon a time…)

Introduction: 

This is a creative speaking/ writing activity inspired by a book called “Creativity Workout” by Edward de Bono. Students obtain random words and rewrite some of the most popular fairy tales. I have to say I absolutely love this activity since it takes me back to the times my dad used to read The Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen stories to me. Enjoy.

Level: B1 +

Time: 45 minutes

Objective:

  1. To recycle recently studied vocabulary in a new and memorable context.

Materials:  

  1. One die per pair or small group.

Procedure:

  1. At the beginning of the class ask students to write down the titles of some of their favourite fairy tales and short stories, e.g. Cinderella, Emperor’s New Clothes, Frog-Prince, The Gingerbread Man, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Bean Stalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Pinocchio, Princess and the Pea, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs etc.
  2. Draw a 6 x 6 grid on the board.
  3. Ask the students to review recently studied vocabulary and provide a word for each square. Make sure the students know the meaning of all the words.
  4. When the grid is complete, put students in pairs or small groups. To obtain words for the activity students throw the die twice: the first throw indicates which column they are going to use and the second indicates which row they are going to use. Depending on the task, they must roll for the number of words and use them repetitively to complete the activity.

Examples:

  • Obtain four random words and choose one of the tales above or any other you would prefer to work on. It would be best if all groups worked on the same tale as they could later compare their stories and have a laugh. Using the random words create four discussion questions based on the tale of your choice.
  • Obtain four random words and create a different ending of the chosen story.
  • Obtain four random words and create a different beginning of the chosen story.
  • Obtain six random words and justify which character should be removed from your chosen story and why.
  • Obtain four random words and retell the story from the perspective of a different character, e.g. one of the Seven Dwarfs or the wolf’s perspective in Little Red Riding Hood. 
  • Obtain five random words and write a sequel to one of the stories, e.g. Cinderella 2.
  • Obtain four random words and write a contemporary version of one of the stories.
  • Obtain five random words and describe how you would act if you were one of the main characters in your chosen story.
  • Obtain five random words and present your chosen story as a TV news item.
  • Obtain five random words and write 5 quiz questions about the story for the other teams.

Related posts:

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Random words

 

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:

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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

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Make no mistake

Introduction:

This is an activity for B1 students to review some of the most common mistakes they make. The students correct the mistakes in pairs and then answer would you rather questions.

Level: B1

Time: 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To identify and correct common mistakes made by B1 students.
  2. To answer fun/bizarre would you rather questions to make the activity more memorable and fun.

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

  1. Make no mistake Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Give each student a Make no mistake Worksheet and in pairs, or groups of three, ask them to correct the mistakes in questions 1 to 20.
  2. When the students have finished, check together as a class.
  3. In pairs, or groups of three, students now answer the questions 1 to 20. Tell students to justify their answers and monitor closely as students often make the same mistakes they have just corrected when they answer the questions, so remind them to pay attention to HOW they respond and not only to WHAT they say.

Related posts:

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Blah Blah PET Part 1

My favourite mistakes card game

P.S. Thank you Alex.

Half full or half empty?

Introduction: 

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

Objectives:

  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.

Procedure:

  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

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Can’t stop dishing out idioms

You make my heart BEET 😉

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Keep up the good work

Introduction: 

These are activities to introduce and practise phrasal verbs related to work. Students match the phrasal verbs to their definitions and play a board game.

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce phrasal verbs related to work.
  2. To match the phrasal verbs to their definitions.
  3. To answer and ask questions about work whilst playing a board game.

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

  1. Keep up the good work Worksheet, one per student.
  2. Keep up the good work board game, one per group.

Procedure

  1. Write ‘ “Work is the key to success and hard work can help you accomplish anything” Vince Lombardi on the boardAsk students to discuss the quote in pairs and give examples from their own lives.
  2. Hand the students Keep up the good work Worksheet.
  3. Individually, students write down the definitions (a-l) of the phrasal verbs in sentences 1 to 12 in the spaces provided. You could also ask students to first try and define the phrasal verbs without looking at the definitions.
  4. When the students have finished, they compare their answers with a partner.
  5. Check the answers as a class.
  6. Next put the students in groups of 2 or 3, and give them a copy of Keep up the good work board game and a die.
  7. 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 /phrasal verb.
  8. 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 phrasal verb they must use it to form a question for their partner(s), e.g.  Have you or  anyone you know ever been laid off?
  9. The game continues in the circle going left.
  10. At the end, ask students what they found out about their classmates.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to briefly describe their professional career using at least 5 phrasal verbs they have learnt. Younger students could describe what they would like their future job to look like.

Food for thought:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R_BKlb_Y8k

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Brace yourselves. Phrasal verbs r bk

How do you …?

Single and ready to mingle