We Are Family

1) Write down the names of THREE members of your family
(cousins, uncles, grandmothers whatever).

2) With somebody else, look at your lists 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.

This 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 as it is below and 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 use 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.

An example of the sentences that came up in my class: #theirwordsmyverse

Happy Birthday!

Choose 5 random nouns:


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

2) Decide on the best.

Recycling Vocabulary

1) Define the word for someone else to guess.

2) Spell the word (and in reverse).

3) Mime the word for someone else to guess.

4) Draw the word for someone else to guess.

5) Make a sentence including the word.

6) Make a question using the word for someone else to answer.

7) Unjumble the wrod.

8) Present the w___d with only the first letter and last letter.  Try and remember (or guess) what it is.

9) Put the words in a word search. (Display it on a big screen if you can)

10) Makeawordsnake.

11) Remove the vowels. Can you remember the w_rd?

12) Dictate or display the words and then write them from memory.

Have I got NEWSROUND for you

1) Take some news headlines

(I normally use CBBC Newsround - a news website for children - simplifying and adapting the headlines where necessary) 

2) Present them to the class with a blank space in place of a word.

3) Here are some past examples:

Big risk for young people who are _____ 

_____ cream doesn't work

Schools should ban plastic _____

____ wins top Football award

answers: famous, sun, straws, Messi

Alphabet Dialogue

In the case below we have a 6 line dialogue between two people. With the letters in brackets think of a word that starts with that letter and then have a dialogue using them. If you are in charge try and elicit a mixture of word types.

A: (a) apple
B: (b) because
A: (c) crazy
B: (d) done
A: (e) egg
B: (f) found

My effort:

A: (a) Can I have an apple?
B: (b) No, because your dinner is almost ready
A: (c) That's crazy! An apple's not gonna make a difference!
B: (d) It has when you've done it before.
A: (e) Is it an egg again for dinner?
B: (f) Yes, I've found that it fills you up.

More advanced

Create a scene in which each line of dialogue begins with the next letter of the alphabet.

Are you listening to me?
Baby i'm always listening to you
Can you not call me baby!
Does it matter, I thought it was romantic...

and so on

With a bit of practice it does become easier and is great for on the spot thinking.
Maybe you could mix up the letters / start elsewhere in the alphabet.

A Short Drawing Break

Choose a random common noun or animal and draw it in one of the ways below:

Draw it using a continuous line. (without lifting the pen/pencil)

Draw it without looking at the paper.

Draw it using only three lines.

Draw it upside down.

Draw with your non-dominant hand.

Write a sentence or two about the drawing and present it to somebody.


Draw a squiggle (an incomplete drawing) and pass it to another person to complete.

Present everybody with the same squiggle. Complete it.

Write a sentence or two about the drawing and present it to somebody.

Draw six circles on paper and use the circles as an inspiration to draw 6 different objects. When finished describe and define what you have drawn and the rest of the class can guess what it is.

Try it with squares or rectangles, hexagons or diamonds.


Self Portrait.

Put your notebook flat up against your face (preferably A4) and draw your face on the paper. 

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

The answers will then be revealed and we will see who is nearest.

The iPad 2010
Barcelona & Madrid Football Clubs 1899, 1902
Coca Cola 1886
Taylor Swift 1989
Playstation 1994
Justin Bieber 1994

Another idea: Higher or Lower / Before or After

Alternatively, guess the year out loud and the person who knows the answer can say higher or lower.

This activity is also great for other numbers, times, dates.


Some ideas to do at the start of class / with register:

1) Can you spell your name / surname / a word?
2) Can you spell your name / surname / a word in reverse?
3) Can you think of a verb that starts with the first letter of your first name?
(or adjective, food, animal, noun and so on..)
4) What did you do last night / at the weekend? Answer in exactly 6 words.
5) What didn't you do last night / at the weekend?
6) Complete the sentence: Monday is... September is... Yellow is...
(for deeper thought How do you feel in September? What does it mean to you? What does it smell / taste like? What do people say?)
Number 6 is good to do as a group or have thinking time in pairs.

If you can't answer, just say help
and the rest of the class will help.

Vocal Warmers

In Pairs, alternating and just keep repeating

1,3,2 (e.g 1,3,2,1,3,2,1,3,2...)
1, clap, 3
First letter last letter (dog - gate - egg - goal...)
Word association
Word disassociation
Words that start with the same letter
Irregular Verbs (Do, did, done)
3 word sentences
3 syllable words (harder) IN - TREST - ING

If you have a one group of three you'll need to adapt some of them.

More alternating ideas

Sentence Games

Some activities to play with sentences.
Original sentence: She ate a sandwich

01 Dictate
Dictate the sentence in various ways

02 Blank
She ate a _____.
Students write what they think is the answer you have on your paper.

03 Change
Change the words in the original sentence to make a completely new sentence.
She ate a sandwich could become He ran a marathon.

04 Add
Add more words to the original sentence to make it more interesting. A focus on adjectives and adverbs maybe.
She slowly ate a delicious, leftover chicken sandwich on the sofa by the Christmas tree.

05 Incorporate
Insert words provided into the sentence so it makes sense (changing tense if necessary)
She ate a sandwich in the kitchen
She is going to eat a sandwich tomorrow
If she ate a sandwich she wouldn't be hungry

06 Shrink
Remove words one at a time from a long sentence to make it as simple as possible.
She slowly ate a delicious, leftover chicken sandwich on the sofa by the Christmas tree. Becomes: A sandwich.

07 The Opposite
Write the exact opposite of the sentence:
He didn't eat a lot of soup.

08 Sentence Doctor
She didn't ate a sandwich.
Diagnose if the sentence is grammatically good or not.

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

S___ A___ A___ S___

Can you come up with another grammatically correct sentence?
Sometimes animals are scary or... She ate a sandwich. 

10 Grammar Sketch
On one side of a small piece of paper students write the sentence:
She ate a sandwich
On the other side reveal the artist within them and get them to draw the sentence. Now you have a flashcard.

11 What's the sentence?

Similar to hangman. Students guess missing words rather than letters. First letters could be given when frustration sets in.

She ___ a ____

12 Remove

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


13 Alliteration

Change and extend the sentence using the same first letter as many times as you can.

She served spicy sausage sandwiches to some soldiers on Saturdays

Rhyme Time

Rhyming is good and fun. Here I combined rhyming with past simple and continuous sentences. Can you work out 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 above)

________________ book
________________ cook

________________ sing
________________ king

________________ train
________________ rain

Problems & Solutions

1) Think of some problems.
Some examples that came up in my class:
Trump, Exams, Pollution, Tsunamis, Tiredness, Bullying

2) Write these words up (or down) somewhere and then in groups come up with two or three solutions to each problem.

3) Talk them over together.

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 (more complex)

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.

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.

3) First & Last text creation

Take the first and last letter of a word. Can you think of between 5 or 7 words 

S________p  - Ship/Shop/Sheep/Sleep/Soap/Stop

Can you write a sentence / paragraph . story using all 7 words?


1) Here are some examples of reasons you might get into trouble at
school (according to my students):

Not doing homework
Using a mobile phone when you shouldn't
Punching another student in the playground
Insulting another student in the playground
Speaking to friends in class

With a partner, can you put them in order starting with the one that
will get you into the MOST trouble and finishing with the one which
will get you into the LEAST trouble. Then compare and justify your
answers with the rest of the group.

2) Here are some alternative ideas from The Philosophy Man. A bit more thinking involved.

Hitting someone
Hitting someone back
Stealing food from the school canteen
Stealing someone’s lunch
Calling another pupil a bad name
Calling a teacher a a bad name

Fact. Opinion. False.

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 or town where they live (see link below)


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

Life Without

If we didn’t have...

1, Rules
2, Bees
3, The Moon
4, Trees
5, Hands

How would life be different?

You could do this with the 5 carefully selected words above that might encourage better thinking


just 5 random nouns.

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


Speaking activities in pairs or groups. These examples are demonstrated for pairs.

1) Make a sentence or story saying one word each

A: Yesterday
B: A
A: Man
B: Was...

2) Make a sentence or story saying two words each

A: Yesterday a
B: man was 
A: walking down
B: the street...

and so on

3) Say a word each, but each time repeating back the whole sentence:

A: I
B: I went
A: I went to
B: I went to the
A: I went to the beach

4) Proverbs / Advice
Sentences will always start with always or never. See what you come up with.

A: Always
B: listen
A: to
B: your
A: cat

5) The Fortune Teller (with Two Heads)
Two people are fortune tellers. The rest ask them questions about the future. The Fortune tellers answers the question one word at a time per student.

Question: In the future, where will I live?

A: You
B: will
A: live
B: on
A: the
B: moon

6) The Experts
It turns out (it is decided) two people are the experts in something.
For example they are experts in cooking, video games, the Internet, fish, space, stars, dreams, the future and so on

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

The experts respond to the questions as they wish.

Question: What is the biggest fish in the world?

A: Well
B: The
A: Biggest
B: Fish
A: In
B: The
A: World...

and so on...

7) Fortunately / Unfortunately
Have a conversation alternating between Fortunately and Unfortunately.

Stating sentence: Yesterday my sister won 10 euros.
A: Unfortunately she lost it on the way home
B: Fortunately someone she knew had picked it up
A: Unfortunately they had decided to keep it.

and so on...

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?

Bad Habits

Here are 5 bad habits (according to my students):

1) Smoking
2) Eating a lot of junk food
3) Not having a shower
4) Not drinking water
5) Eating squirrels

Why is each habit bad for you?
Which habit do you think is the worst?
Do you do any of these?



1) Choose 6 well known restaurants (good and bad) from the area where you live.

2) Have you been to all / any of them?

3) What are your opinions of each one? (justify your opinions).

4) Rank them from 1 to 6 (best to worst).

5) With the worst restaurant try and suggest some improvements.

6) Compare and contrast the best and worst restaurant on your list.