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.


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)

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.

For example in the sentence: John drove slowly to work in his new red car.
You could eliminate slowly for 1 point or new and red for 2 points.


01 Elicit/present a number of random nouns from/to the class.
e.g. fish, scarf, piano, pencil, shoe... a minimum of 6 is good.

02 Tell students that they are stuck in a cave by the sea and they need to explain how they would use some or all of the objects to survive or help them escape.

Language that could be used:
I could / would eat the fish
If I had a fish I could eat it
If I was stuck in a cave I would play the piano for something to do.

Other situations to survive / escape using random nouns

A Desert Island
A Zombie attack in your academy / school
Plane crash in the Jungle
Stuck on a boat with a tiger


As a class or in a group make a list of things that in your opinion are IMPOSSIBLE.

Some of the things my class came up with:

Live on the sun
Get a 10 in Biology
Suck your elbow
Live forever
Be underwater for a long time
Run faster than 10km/h
That Jesús (student in class) won't eat pizza on a Friday night.

With this list on the board I asked them to think which ones they thought were not actually impossible and explain how they could be done.

For example study harder in biology, cut off your arm and suck your elbow, fly in a plane, make some robot legs that will help you run that fast and so on...

Secondly I asked them to decide which one from the list they thought was the most impossible.

other ideas:
Rank the list (maybe a smaller list) from impossible to possible

Fact, Opinion, False.

A thinking activity.
01 Present the following sentences to the students somehow and ask them to say if they are fact (true), opinion or false.

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

02 As a follow up activity ask the students to create fact, false or opinion sentences about something they know. I chose the town they live in for my class but you could leave it open. Everyone reads out their sentences and as a class we decided if they were fact, opinion or false.


01 Display 4 different animals on the board:

Blue whales

02 Can you say why each animal is the odd one out on the list?

e.g. The Blue whale because it lives in water.

03 Change a noun to an adjective and rank the animals in the order of most to least (in your opinion of course).


e.g. BEAUTY (beautiful): 1. Butterfly  2. Blue Whale  3. Bear  4. Bat

04 Make comparisons with the adjectives and write some sentences:

I think Blue whales are more beautiful than bears
but butterflies are the most beautiful.
The bat is the least beautiful/ ugliest.

05 Other ideas...

a) Complete the sentence: If I were (one of the animals) I would _____

b) Invent some facts: (Did you know that...)
Did you know that Blue whales used to be green

c) Each person says something different about the animal around the class until somebody can't.

d) If (one of the animals) ruled the world what changes would we see?

e) If you could talk to (one of the animals) what would it say?

f) How would life be different if we didn't have (one of the animals)?

g) Advice for young animals from their parents: Write three things one of the animals would say to its children. In my class one student drew the blue whale and wrote: Never leave the water. You should always stay with your family. Don't eat your brothers and sisters.

h) Create a new animal from two of the animals. e.g. Butterbear. Draw the animal and write about where it lives, what it does every day and what it eats.

06 Next time use 4 different animals.

We Are Family

Write down the names of 3 members of your family
(cousins, uncles, grandmothers whatever).
Pair up with somebody, look at your partners list and ask each other the following questions...

Who's __________?
How old is she/he?
What does she/he like?
Can you describe her/him

Continue asking questions if it's interesting or move to the next.

Could also be done as a whole class, teacher writing names up on the board as we go and students asking questions with hands raised of course.

More complex questions that could be used.

What does she/he look like?
What's she/he like?
Do you get on with...?
How do you stay in touch with...?
Does she/he have any bad habits?


Write the word PREDICTIONS down the board and ask students to think of an object or other word (make sure there are a few objects) starting with each letter.


Now make sentences predicting the future using one or a few of the words. It may help to provide a sentence stem: In the future...

e.g. In the future snakes will have big noses and someone will invent a car that can fly.

Questions for a picture

Display a picture (as down below) - and some answers.

a) England
b) Late afternoon
c) A house
d) Yes
e) No
f) A young family
g) 1910

Students need to work out what the questions are for these answers related to the photo. e.g. a) Where was the photo taken?

Afterwards you can display another photo and students in groups can come up with their answers for it. Then the other groups in the class can guess the questions.

A quiz that makes a sentence

1) The
2) Answers
3) to
4) this
5) quiz
6) make
7) a
8) sentence
9) like
10) this.

e.g. Number 1: What is the definite article?

So this type of quiz could be used as an introduction to a grammar structure.

1) 2 letter word at the start of conditionals? - IF
2) First Person Pronoun? - I
3) The Past of Have? - HAD
4) the number after 999,999? (two words) - ONE MILLION
5) The Currency of America? - DOLLARS
6) First Person Pronoun? - I
7) Could but with W? - WOULD
8) Infinitive of Bought - BUY
9) One letter indefinite article? - A
10) A fast red car? - FERRARI

Something I am good at

Ask students to write down something they are good at (like a sport or hobby)

Then dictate the following questions... (simplifying if need be)

What advice would you give a beginner?
What do you enjoy about it?
When was the last time you did it?
Whose feedback do you need?
Who/What stops you from doing it?

Students could interview each other or
write their own answers or
give a small presentation...

Agree Disagree

Activities for giving opinions, agreeing and disagreeing.

01 To give students practice in discussing topics in small groups. Compile a number of sentences and display them somehow - one at a time.

Small shops are better than supermarkets
Saturday is the best day of the week.
Football is more fun than basketball.
Reading books is boring.
Summer is the best time of year.
Emails are the best way of communicating.
Cats are better than Dogs.
It is cruel to keep a cat or a dog in an apartment.

They should give their opinion and as a group agree or disagree and say why or why not.

02 Students create the sentences.

1) Somebody chooses a word in the English language. e.g purple

2) Everyone writes an opinion using this word in the sentence.
e.g I think it would be more interesting if pavements were purple.

3) With a partner students then tell each other their written opinions, agree or disagree with each other and find out why.

4) Share the opinions with the class.