If we didn't have...

If we didn’t have ____

How would life be different?

You could do this with 5 random nouns
Talk about each one and why life would be different if we didn't have it.

Then, think about which one would make the biggest difference to life, if we didn't have it.


1) Would you rather?

What would you rather happen? Justify your answer.

Would you rather be a door or a window?
Would you rather be a ghost or a monster?
Would you rather win the lottery or invent something successful?
Would you rather be smart or popular?
Would you rather be single and famous or have a family?
Would you rather be water or fire?
Would you rather have €100 now or €200 this time next year
Would you rather live without Snapchat or Instagram
Would you rather live without sweets or TV?
Would you rather have bad breath or smelly feet?
Would you rather spend a week in the 1980's or the 1880's?
Would you rather be a soldier or a sailor?

2) I would rather...

Student A asks a simple question.

A: Do you want to go the cinema tonight?

Student B answers in a way suggesting its the last thing they want to do.

B: Id rather stay at home and read the dictionary. / I'd rather take my clothes off and dance in the main square. etc..


Riddles to get students thinking.

01 Which month has 28 days?

02 Which letter of the alphabet has the most water in it?

03 What has a face and two hands but no arms or legs?

04 What has to be broken before you can use it?

05 Why is number 6 afraid?

06 A cowboy rode into town on Friday, stayed three days, and left 
on Friday. How is this possible?

07 Do you know where horses go when they are ill?

08 Which room has no doors or windows?

09 Jamie's mother had three children. The first child was called April. The second child was called May. What was the name of the third child?

10 Before Mount Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain?

11 Which is correct: The yolk of the egg is white or The yolk of the egg are white?


01 All of them have 28 days
02 C
03 A Clock
04 An Egg
05 Because 7 8 9
06 His horse is called Friday
07 A Horsepital
08 A Mushroom
09 Jamie
10 Mount Everest
11 Neither. The yolk is yellow.

Spelling Dictation

Taking sentence structures that we have done in class I dictate them 3 letters at a time. So for the sentence (I have to go to school) I would dictate it in the following manner, pausing briefly for a slash:

I H A / V E T / O G O / T O S / C H O / OL

They write down the letters - some will get in a muddle, some may hold their head in despair - but others will begin to see the sentence and start guessing what the completed sentence will be.

An Alliterative Sentence

Elicit a random word from the class. They must use this as an inspiration to write a sentence using alliteration.

An example

Neighbour: Nell's nosey neighbour never noticed her new necklace


Only one proper noun allowed.
Not every word has to start with the same letter.
You could just offer a starting letter instead of a random word.
Take your time.

1 to 7

Writers are presented with a word.

e.g desk

They must now write a sentence underneath of two words and then three words and so on up to seven resulting in perhaps something poetic or unexpected. I suppose there is scope to insist on it being in the past or future at some point if you wanted a grammar focus.

Here is my effort that I demonstrated in the class.

1) Desk
2) to study
3) I hate studying
4) It is so boring
5) I prefer to eat pizza
6) and eat it on my desk
7) Pizza is what I want to study.

Question Time

Select a topic, for example reading. Students then construct questions related to that topic using prompts as in the first image. They could write the questions, or could ask the teacher before then asking each other.

Next, in the second image, they could ask the question that is right for the answer.

Both of these slides could be played as the tic tac toe (Os and Xs) game.

Last & First

1) Word chain game

In pairs or around the class. The last letter of the word is the first letter of the new word: cat tree english happy

Some constraints to use in the game:

Words must be three letters long: dog gun new why yes shy you use...
Words must be four letters long: long give each have easy your race...
Words must be five letters long and the middle letter is the first letter of the next word: knock order drive input peace...

Some rules: no plurals or names.

2) Sentence chain game

Somebody says a sentence and the last word of the sentence is the first word of the next sentence. Quite often it's a strange word to start a sentence but it challenges the student to be creative. Higher levels best.

Have a look at the example below...

So one person says a few words
Words are what make sentences
sentences finish with a full stop
STOP! you've broken it!
it is time to go to bed
bed, lamp, wardrobe are things in my bedroom

and so on around the class or in pairs.

Fact. Opinion. False.

A thinking activity.

01 Check that the class can differentiate between something that is a fact, an opinion and something false.

02 Present the following sentences to the students and ask them to say if they are fact (true), opinion or false.

1.The cat is an animal.
2 Cats see in black and white.
3 Chocolate can be toxic to cats.
Everybody likes cats.
Cats are in the same family as Lions and tigers.
6 Cats are nocturnal.
Cats have more teeth than dogs.
8 Seeing a black cat on a Saturday brings good luck.
9 Cats always land on their feet.
10 When people see a cat, they want to touch it.

1 fact
2 false
3 fact
4 opinion
5 fact
6 fact
7 false
8 opinion
9 false
10 opinion

03 As a follow up activity ask the students to create one fact, false and opinion sentence about an animal that they like.

04 Everyone reads out their sentences and as a class we decided if they are fact, opinion or false.

7 to 1

7 to 1 is a 7 line dialogue with the first line being 7 words down to the last line being 1 word.

This activity makes students think about the structure of sentences and how to make it fit rather than just writing. It can also be very funny when they read them back.

In class recently we were looking at requests and permissions so I asked them to imagine they are speaking with their parents and I provided the first line.

A: Can I go to the cinema tonight?
B: You must do your homework tonight
A: I will do it tomorrow
B: You always say that!
A: Now, It's true!
B: Ok, go.
A: Thanks.

A: Can I go to the cinema tonight?
B: No, you can't do that tonight.
A: Why can't I go tonight?
B: Because it's very late
A: Oh come on!
B: I'm sorry
A: Stupid.

A: Can I go to the cinema tonight?
B: No, you have to stay here
A: I want to go, please!
B: Ask your dad then
A: He said yes
B: OK then
A: Thanks!

Alternative Proverbs

1) Ask the group: What is a proverb? Do you know any in your own language?

2) Display (or dictate) the first part of some English proverbs. Ask the group to try and complete them. 

3) Make a note of some of the more creative answers before revealing the correct ones.

Here are my classes guesses / alternative proverbs:

All good things must... happen.

Better late than... dirty.

If it isn't broken... use it.

If you can't beat them... confuse them.

You can't teach an old dog... maths.

Knowledge is... nature.

Sleep ...is the best medicine.

No man is a... ghost.

Practice makes... humanity.

The early bird... doesn't have a life.

The grass is always... growing.

The pen is mightier than... the pencil.

Time is... over.

Too many cooks... too much food.

You can take a horse to water... but you'll get wet.

Children should be seen and not... eaten.

Where there's smoke there's... drugs.

You can't always get... popcorn in the cinema.

4) Recycle the original proverbs with some games

The Bomb

For this game you need a countdown timer that makes a sound when it has finished. As the timer is counting down - hide it. Now, you can revise any number of possibilities going around the class from student to student. For example: vocabulary sets, things you do on the beach / at school etc. or word chain games all with the lingering tension that when the timer goes off the person whose turn it is currently...


You could use an interval timer online so the timer keeps going but goes off at different times.

I Wonder

Complete one of the following sentences:

I wonder if...
I wonder wh__....
I wonder how...

If you are not sure what to wonder about use some of the following topics:

e.g. English | Tomorrow | Space | The Sea | School | Trees

Here are some of my students ideas:

I wonder why I need to learn English.
I wonder if in the future we will have to go to school.
I wonder what will happen in the future.
I wonder if somebody will invent the future machine.
I wonder if space finishes.
I wonder if space is rainbow colours.
I wonder what would happen if space didn't exist.
I wonder if trees can talk with me.
I wonder if trees will live in space.
I wonder why my creativity is the best.
I wonder why donuts are delicious.
I wonder why taxis in New York are yellow.

Normal Questions. Unusual Answers.

I asked students to complete these questions. We wrote them on the board.

How far...
How often...
How much...

How far is it to Madrid?
Who are you?
What are you doing this weekend?
Where were you born?

They then had to answer the questions but using any of the following 10 random words in the answer.

head giraffe hats handbag daisy sun balloon comic holiday handkerchief

Some answers were:

It is 10,000 Giraffes to Madrid
I am the sun
This weekend I am going to buy a balloon.
I was born in a handbag.

Problems & Solutions

On the board write the word problems.
Elicit from the class some problems.
Some examples that came up in my classes:
Trump, Exams, Pollution, Tsunamis, Tiredness, Bullying
I wrote these words up on the board and then in groups asked them to come up with two or three solutions to each problem.
We then talked over each one as a class.


Choose 5 random words (things / objects)


First talk together about why they would be good or bad birthday presents for a a friend.

Then decide on the best.

Rhyme Time

Rhyming is good and fun. Here I combined rhyming with past simple and continuous sentences. What are the blanks?

I was walking down the street
when I saw my mate had new shoes on his _____ 

When I arrived home at half past ten
my sister was chatting to her best _____ 

On Tuesday morning I burnt my leg
while I was cooking a fried _____

the answers are feet, friend and egg.

Next, can you make some sentences of your own?
(using the same structure as me)

________________ book
________________ cook

________________ sing
________________ king

________________ train
________________ rain


Some ideas for taking the register:

01 Spell name / surname
02 Spell name / surname in reverse
03 The class say their first names in alphabetical order.
04 The class say their names in reverse alphabetical order. 
Both 03 and 04, at first, require the students to talk to each other and work out the order.
05 Each student says an animal that starts with the first letter of their first name. if a student gets stuck the class help.
06 Other things that could be done with the first letter of their names in the following classes: countries, adjectives, verbs, places, sports, professions.
Eventually they will have a list of words starting with the same letter which could be written as an alliterative sentence.
e.g. Paula from Poland will be a perfect police officer and play pool in the post office.

Eight Way Thinking

Using a random noun: tea bag

01 Find connections with tea bag and the following categories.

Numbers: 40 bags in a box, stew for 5 minutes, tea for two
Words: pyramid, refreshing, lovely
People: The British, builders, adults
Feelings: calm, warmth, happy
Nature: plants, leaves, fruit 
Actions: squeeze, dunk, steep
Sights:  steam, darkening water, tea leaves
Sounds: boil, clink, dribble

02 Alternatively ask students to think of questions related to the noun and the categories.

Numbers: How long should you wait before you take the tea bag out?
Words: What is the shape of the tea bag?
People: Who normally buys tea bags?
Feelings: How do you feel when you make tea?
Nature: Where does tea come from?
Actions: What is the action for leaving a tea bag in the cup?
Sights: What happens to the water when the tea bag is put in?
Sounds: What is the sound for when a tea spoon hits the side of a cup?

A Long Sentence

Dictate two times a long sentence of about 20 words. When you have finished, and only when you have finished, students write what they remember. Dictate a third and fourth time if needed.

To finish a student could come to the whiteboard and the rest of the class dictate back to them the sentence. This is good because there is bound to be some conflict in what is right.

When all have the final text written beautifully on the board and on paper, try some sentence games: shrink or expand the sentence or change the words in the sentence so that it is more related to them.

Alternative idea.

Instead of listening, present the text on the whiteboard for a minute before removing it and then students try to recreate it. (Flash Dictation)