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?

Predictions

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.

Pen
Robot
Elephant
Dog
Invent
Car
Train
Interesting
Orange
Nothing
Snake

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.

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
Last year / Next year
Yesterday / Tomorrow
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...

Inference

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 on 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

YOU & ME

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?

Ranking

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
I
am
BORED.

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.