More Sentence Stems

I am…
I am not...
I'm good at...
I'm not good at...
I like...
but I don't like...
I hate...
I love...

Students complete the sentences above and read out their work afterwards. Could be a good activity for a new class and the higher the level of the class the more in depth the stems could be:
I used to / but now
If you / then I'll
and so on...

Another Idea: In the summer I interviewed my nephew and asked him to complete the following sentence a number of times: Happiness is...

He responded...

Happiness is playing football

Happiness is watching Liverpool
Happiness is the smell of victory
Happiness is listening to the 2010 world cup theme
Happiness is the sound of knives and forks squeaking on plates
Happiness is my brother farting 
Happiness is cows mooing and pooing in the water (plop)
Happiness is 62% dark chocolate
Happiness is the smell of marmite
Happiness is PE at school
Happiness is talking to Mr. Norman
Happiness is talking to Mr. Rowlands
Happiness is watching champions league on TV in the winter
Happiness is watching match of the day (but not with Gary Lineker in his pants)
Happiness is the crossbar challenge
Happiness is the keepie uppie challenge (146 to date)

Sam, aged 10

This style of poem could be carried out in class as a group or done individually. We could use other adjectives or use the seasons e.g winter is... boredom is...


An inference is an idea or conclusion that's drawn from evidence and reasoning. An inference is an educated guess.

Think about the following sentences. Think of as many reasons as you can as to why they happened. If you like, imagine you are Sherlock Holmes.

01. I forgot to set my alarm clock

02. The boat drifted in the lake.
03. John ran into the street without looking.
04. Everyone stopped when the referee blew the whistle
05. She blew out the candles
06. Emily sat in her bedroom and began to cry.
07. The man has dirty knees.
08. Edward had a much bigger breakfast than usual.
09. Natasha is eating at her favourite restaurant.
10. The bookshop doors were open at midnight.

As a follow on for this activity you could discuss what happens next in the situations.

Irregular Verse


Verbs used: (Hang (out), Have, Hide, Hold, Lead, Lean, Learn, Leave, Lie, Light (up), Mean)

Last Saturday we hung out
We lay side by side in the park all afternoon
Sometimes I leant on your shoulder
We held hands and the sun lit up your smile
I learnt things about you
I learnt that you often hid your feelings
I learnt that you had a wonderful way with words
I learnt that when you said you loved me. You meant it.

We left the park at sunset. You led me into the night.
I learnt that you were the one for me.

Irregular Verse: poems/prose written by me using irregular verbs as inspiration.

How to use Irregular verse in class?

01 Read it. Check understanding.
02 Present it as a gap fill with the verbs in infinitive at the top.
03 Do a Disappearing Sentence
04 What's the question?
After reading, present some answers that need questions.
e.g. On Saturday / In the Park / That he or she had a way with words / At Sunset.
05 Any other ideas?


1) Take 5 random objects.
2) Rank them in order of importance to you.
3) Ask the rest of the class to guess the order you put them in.
4) Reveal your order. Were they correct?
5) Ask the class if they would rank the words differently. Why?

Other ranking ideas

Rank 5 jobs in order of most _____ to least _____
e.g. boring, well paid, dangerous, stressful... and say why?

Talking about Pictures

1) Describe the picture (What can you see.. colours / objects / actions)

2) Each student in turn says something different about the picture.

3) If there are people / animals in the photo - Talk about their feelings.

4) if you don't really know what is happening, who it is or where they are: Speculate

5) What might have happened before and what might happen after the image was taken.

6) Criticise and give your opinion of the photo.

7) If there are 2 or more people / things in the picture improvise a role play

8) Hide the photo and recount it from memory.

9) Try and make a comparison with the photo and your life or the place you live.

10) See. Think. Wonder. Look at a photo (or any view or object) and complete the sentences: I see... I think... I wonder...

Improvised Role Play

In pairs...

A is on the phone to B. Arrange to meet somewhere.
A is on the moon / mars / another planet. B asks questions.
A is a human. B is a tree.
A is a child and doesn't want to go to school. B is the parent.
A is the boss of a company.  B is always late.
A works in an Electronics store. B has a faulty product.
A has failed a lot of exams at school.  B listens and gives advice
A is a tourist. B is a visitor to their town.

Alternative Idea

Present students with the first line of a dialogue.

e.g. 1) 'Something smells delicious.'

Ask them what situations the sentence might be heard. Then, in pairsor  small groups let them improvise a conversation for a minute using that line as the first line. 

Other sentences...

2) 'That sounds like their car.'
3) 'It smells as if it's burnt.'
4) 'It sounds as if you have a cold.'
5) 'It doesn't taste like it normally does.'
6) That guitarist looks drunk.
7) 'It looks like it's going to rain.'

A Riddle

Pick a random object and complete some or all of the following sentences to describe it. Keep it secret and then see if anybody can guess your object.

I live in _____
I look like _____
I smell of _____
I live next to _____
I love _____
I hate _____
I am afraid of _____
In the future I want _____

What am I?

Group Poem

This is a a group poem put together by me and my Teens 1 class (12/13 year olds). The idea was taken from the book by Michael Rosen: Did I hear you write? who says 'in order to alert a class to the fact that what they say and do is the valid stuff of writing, I might do a group poem with them.' He also states that having students imagine the situation in the present tense releases more immediate emotions, dialogues and moments.'

I wrote the title I am ill on the whiteboard and asked them how they feel when they are ill, what they can see and hear, what people say and what they think - all the while noting down things they came up with on the whiteboard and every 3 lines I wrote the chorus line I am ill, I am ill. I tried to make sure every student said at least one line, pushed them to really imagine the situation at home and together we translated anything they couldn't say in English. Afterwards we read the poem aloud; all of us saying the chorus line. This was the result:

I'm ill, I'm ill
The T.V is on
I'm doing my homework
in my bedroom.
I'm ill, I'm ill
my mother's shouting
the dog is barking
the phone is vibrating
I'm ill, I'm ill
my sister is singing
'You should be at school!'
'Do you have exams?' asks my Mother
I'm ill, I'm ill
I'm not at school
I miss my friends
I wish it was summer
I'm ill, I'm ill
I feel bad
I am in pain

As an extension Rosen suggests students copy the poem, change the poem, cut it up or expand it. I put mine on my classroom wall and encourage other classes to read them and question them.

More group poems we've done here.

Disappearing Sentence

Write a long sentence or two on the board.  This could come from the student book or an exam style book.

Ask a student to read it then ask them to nominate a few words.  Clean those words off the board. Ask them to nominate someone else in the class.

The next student must then read out the whole sentence including the missing words. Repeat as above until all the words have disappeared or it's challenging enough for them to recreate in written form in their notebooks.

Alternative idea

Write a couple of long sentences or a story on the board filled with adjectives and description. Students, in two teams, must now eliminate words in the text so that the text still makes sense. They can eliminate one, two or a maximum of three words in a row on one turn. They receive one point for each word eliminated. Thanks to Mick for that idea.

Sentence Games

Some activities to play with sentences.
Original sentence: Jane walked to the cinema

01 Blank
Jane walked to the _____.
Students write what they think is the answer you have on your paper. If correct they receive a point.

02 Change the sentence
Change the words in the original sentence to make a completely new sentence.
Jane walked to the cinema could become Tom ran to the beach.

03 Expand the sentence
Students add more words to the original sentence to make it more interesting.
e.g. Jane walked slowly to the cinema in the afternoon sun.

04 Shrink the sentence
Students remove words from the sentence to make it as simple as possible.
Jane walked slowly to the cinema in the afternoon sun.
becomes Jane walked to the cinema.

05 Wrong or right?
Jane walking to the beach.
Students decide if the sentence you provide is grammatically correct or not? If the are right they win a point.

06 A Message
Present the first letters of each word of the sentence.

J____ W____ T____ T____ C____

Can students come up with another grammatically correct sentence?
e.g. Justin watered the trees carefully

07 A Grammar Sketch
On one side of a small piece of paper students write the sentence:
Jane walked to the cinema.
On the other side reveal the artist within them and get them to draw the sentence. Now you have a flashcard.

08 What's the sentence?

Similar to hangman. Students guess missing words rather than letters.

Jane _____ to the _____.

09 What's the sentence II?

The following sentence has had one particular vowel removed.
Can you work it out?


the answer is e: Jane walked to the cinema


Students give mini presentations on "how to do something".

how to start a car
how to use a photocopier
how to make a cup of tea
how to make an omelette
how to change a tyre
how to change a baby's nappy
how to make a telephone call
how to play golf

They are asked to choose one (different one each) and are given 5/10 minutes to prepare for a small (detailed) presentation to the class.  Teacher should demonstrate one first maybe.

A Sport or Hobby

1) When did you start it?
2) Describe what you do.
3) Why would you recommend it?


Speaking activities in pairs or around the class:

1) Students tell a story saying one word each

2) Students tell a story saying two words each (and so on)

3) Students give advice saying one word each - starting with Always or Never.
Student A: Always
Student B: listen
Student A: to
Student B: your
Student A: cat

4) The Fortune Teller with Two Heads:
Two students are the fortune tellers.  Other students ask them questions about the future.  The Fortune tellers answers the question one word at a time per student.
Student A: You
Student B: will
Student A: live
Student B: on
Student A: the
Student B: moon

5) It turns out (it is decided) two students are the experts in something.
For example they are experts in cooking, video games, The Internet, fish, space, stars, dreams, the future...

Invite the class to ask questions that they'd like to know about the subject.

The experts respond to the questions as they wish.

e.g. What is the biggest fish in the world
Student A: Well
Student B: The
Student A: Biggest
Student B: Fish
Student A: In
Student B: The

and so on...

Similar, Different

Some ideas for making comparisons:
Can you find some similarities and differences between...

You and something you are interested in.
You and another person in the class / family member.
You and an animal.

Two (or more) random nouns.
Two random photos.
Two images in a spot the difference activity.

Two animals
Two countries
Two celebrities
Twitter and Facebook
Going to a sports event and watching it on T.V at home.
The countryside and the city.
The mountains and the beach.
Films at home and films at the cinema.

Guess the year

In pairs discuss what year you think these things were invented / started / born?

The iPad
Barcelona & Madrid Football Clubs
Coca Cola
Taylor Swift
Justin Bieber

I will then reveal the answers and the nearest to the correct date wins.