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10 Activities - Using Pictures in Class

by aoife mcloughlin | posted in: Uncategorized | 25

A picture speaks a thousand words! And


you can get your students speaking just as many by using pictures in class. Check
out these fun and engaging communicative activities below.
I find these work at all ages and the best thing is that each task can be adapted to the
level you are teaching and designed with a particular language focus in mind so
whether you’re teaching the Past Simple at A1 or the use of cleft sentences at C1, you
can pull from your bank of pictures and adjust your instructions as you see fit!!

1. Dialogue Bubbles
Choose a picture with two or more people and in pairs, students design a catchy
advertisement or witty dialogue OR use it to focus on a particular grammar structure
such as ‘going to’ (see below).
You could even choose a picture with two or more objects and ask your students to use
their imaginations to add dialogue bubbles to the objects. This can be great fun, used
at all levels and all ages and is so versatile in that you can focus on whatever
grammar/vocabulary you are teaching that week!
2. Storyboards
Storyboarding is a well-known and popular task in the ESL classroom but it means
sourcing a sequence of pictures which can be a challenge! If you’re feeling very
creative, you could take a series of images in sequence yourself and ask students to
write the story. To personalise it even more, use your town or the school as a backdrop
for the story.
Storyboards are great to focus on particular grammar structures as you can assign the
focus. For example, maybe ‘Past Perfect Continuous’ with your higher levels (He
had been waiting for the right moment to save her) or Past Simple with your
lower levels (He saved the woman and jumped out the window).
3. If I Were There, I Would…
Choose a picture in an interesting setting or location. This is a great task to practise the
Second Conditional. ‘If I were there, I would get up early to watch the sunrise
every morning.’ Can your students think of 3 Second Conditional sentences in relation
to this setting?
4. Picture Profiles
Choose a small number of pictures of interesting people and get your students to work
together to describe the appearance of the person in the picture but also to build a
profile of that person using the following headings: Name, Nationality, Age,
Profession, Likes/Dislikes, Life Goals and Ambitions and 3 words to describe
the person’s character. When finished, groups can share their profiles and discuss
their choices; a great way to practise present simple, present simple continuous and
adjectives for description and character at the lower levels.
5. Yes, Chef!
Take or source a picture of either a starter, a main course or a dessert. Ask your
students to describe the dish to their partners including the ingredients that were used
and the recipe they think would have been used. Now, ask your students to come up
with a five-course menu to include this dish!
If you provide a picture like the one below of ‘Tiramisu’, your students might consider
creating an Italian themed menu and should discuss Italian dishes and drinks.
6. Nostalgia – ‘I remember when…’
Bring in a picture of yourself as a young child and describe the picture to the
class. Now, tell the students about this time in your life starting with i.e, ‘I remember
when I was four years old…’ This is a great task to practise structures such as ‘I
would…’ and ‘used to’ to talk about past habits.
7. Compare & Contrast
This is a well-known task and useful to introduce to students of all ages to familiarize
them with the format of exams such as the Cambridge suite of exams (PET, FCE and
CAE).
Choose two photos with a similar theme such as the two below on the theme of
work. Start by asking students to describe what they see in the two pictures to their
partners and then to use phrases such as ‘They are similar in that….’ And ‘in
contrast to the first picture’ to compare and contrast. As a follow-up, you could
ask your students to choose their next two pictures to bring in to class to describe.
8. Picture Collage
Ask your students to work in pairs and together for homework take a series of
pictures to illustrate their language learning experience (or whatever you
choose). They should bring their collage into class the next day (or you could set this
mini project over two days) to present to the class. Students describe their photos,
why they took them and why they play an important part in their lives.
This task is great with teenagers and encourages them to use a wide range of
vocabulary which they have already met; a fun and motivating fluency focused
activity. If your students have access, they could use www.picmonkey.com to create
online collages.
9. Picture Dictation
Student A – The Describer
Student B – The Artist
Student C – The Scribe
A fun and engaging task for groups of three students. Source a picture that has
enough detail for students to
describe, draw and write about! Assign your strongest student in each group the role
of ‘Describer’ – This student is the only one who will see the picture; the other
students, the ‘Artist’ will draw what student A describes and the ‘Scribe’ will write the
description.
When finished, the three students compare their picture, drawing and written
description and together discuss the similarities and differences. Drawings and pictures
could be posted on the classroom walls afterwards for other groups to decide which
representation is the best and why!
10. Prediction for Reading/Listening tasks
Source an engaging picture that relates in some way to your main reading/listening
task. Use the picture as a lead-in task for students to predict what the following task
will be about. If they are having difficulty, give them some vocabulary on the board to
help them put together a full prediction.
Course books often use lead-in pictures but if you can find a picture of your own that
personalizes the topic, it will add a more intriguing layer to your introduction. For
example, the following lead-in picture could be used to spark students
personal interest in the topic of camping before reading an article on ‘An Increase in
Camping Holidays’
Fun Classroom Activities For Kids
Sponsored

Education is a serious business, but kids just want to have fun. So here are some fun ways to
educate the children, seriously!

1. Buzz
There’s no buzz word here. Only a buzz number or letter.
Image: Shutterstock

Buzz is an excellent game for younger kids who need to recite long lists such as a series of
numbers, letters of the alphabet, and days of the month.

Number of players: Ten or more


You will need: A little preparation
How to play:
1. Pick a series that you want the kids to list out – numbers from one to 100, prime numbers, or any
other series of words or numbers they have access to.
2. Decide what the buzz word or number is going to be. For instance, you can decide that every
fourth number or letter is going to be the buzz word. You could also choose words starting with a
specific letter or numbers divisible by a particular number.
3. The word ‘buzz’ will replace the figures or letters.
4. Get the kids to start reading the items on the list or the series in order, while replacing the chosen
letter number with buzz.
For example: 1, 2, 3, buzz, 5, 6, 7, buzz, 9,10,11, buzz…
Anyone who misses replacing the buzz word or number is out of the game.

2. Blind artist

Image: Shutterstock

This game is played in pairs and engages a child’s imagination and ability to describe things.

Number of players: Four or more


You will need: Sheets of white paper, pencil, pen or sketch pens, drawings or images
How to play:
1. Pair the children, but do not let them face each other.
2. Give one child a picture or an image.
3. The second child has to recreate the picture while his partner describes it, without revealing what
it is.
The idea is to see how accurate the drawing can be, when recreated without seeing.

3. Don’t answer
When asked a question, the ideal thing to do is answer. But not when you are playing this game,
which older kids and teens will enjoy playing.

Number of players: Ten or more


How to play:
1. One student starts by asking another student a random question. For example, “What is your one
precious possession?”
2. But the student who was asked shall not answer. The student standing left to him or her will
respond, whether or not they know the answer.
The game gets hilarious when students get imaginative and creative with their answers. ‘Don’t
answer’ is ideal for high school students.

4. Crazy train
Ideal for primary and kindergarten kids, the crazy train is a choo-choo train with added fun.

Number of players: Ten or more


You will need: Space to play
How to play:
1. Line up the kids to form a human choo-choo train.
2. Then shout-out commands such as ‘slow’, ‘fast’, ‘slow-motion’, ‘turn right’, ‘move backward’, and
‘stop’ randomly to make the train go ‘crazy’!
Younger children will love playing this one.

5. Four corners
Image: Shutterstock

Four corners is a simple game of chance that can energize students and keep them awake after
the lunch hour.

Number of players: 12 or more


You will need: A room with four corners and enough space for a group of students to stand
How to play:
1. Choose one student to be ‘It’. Blindfold and send ‘It’ out of the classroom for a while.
2. Divide the rest of the class into four groups of four students each.
3. Ask each group to pick a corner. Name the corners A, B, C, and D.
4. Once the students are in place, ‘It’ calls out a corner and all the students standing there are out of
the game.
5. The four members of the last group standing will pick a corner each and ‘It’ continues to eliminate
them all until only one student is left.
6. Bleep
Bleep is a memory game that prevents children from using certain words.

Number f players: Ten or more


You will need: Reading material
How to play:
1. Give the students a list of forbidden words. They can be anything such as colors (red blue, green,
and so on), play, of, man, food, apple, the, and more.
2. Choose reading comprehension material with these words in it and ask the kids to read one
sentence each.
3. Kids have to bleep each time they hear a forbidden word.

7. Jumping the line


This is an energizer that can be played towards the end of the day and is a great game for
revising the day’s lessons.

Number of players: 10-15


You will need: Sticky tape or chalk, set of True/False questions, space to play
How to play:
1. Make a straight line using the chalk or the sticky tape.
2. Mark one side of the line as True and the other as False.Ask the children to stand on the line.
3. Ask a question – if the kids think it is true, they jump to the True side. Otherwise, they must jump
to the False side.
Kids who make a mistake have to go back and sit.

8. Blindfold conversation
This game is an interesting way to make children listen and focus on the voice of another person.

Number of players: Ten or more


You will need: Cloth for blindfolding and space to play
How to play:
1. Make space in the room and ask kids to form a circle.
2. Pick one student to be ‘It’ and blindfold her or him.
3. Spin ‘It’ and ask him or her to point. Whoever ‘It’ points at must talk to ‘It’ in a funny voice,
without revealing their name.
4. ‘It’ has to guess the name of the student by asking a series of questions.
If ‘It’ rightly guesses who the student is, the student becomes ‘It’.

English Or Word Games For Classrooms

Reading and writing aren’t the only activities or tools for learning a language. There are some
fun games as well, which can be used to review and improve a child’s vocabulary, grammar, and
speaking skills.

9. Dictionary deception
Dictionary deception is a rather challenging game that compels kids to think about a word’s
meaning. It is great for developing high school students’ vocabulary.

Number of players: Six or more


You will need: Sheets of paper, pens, and a list of words
How to play:
1. Pick a word that none of the students have heard before.
2. Write the meaning of the word on a sheet of paper. Ask the students to write down what they
think the definition of that word is.
3. Collect the sheets and read them out one by one – each time you do, the class has to consider the
meaning and vote.
4. Students get one point every time their definition gets a vote and also if they have written the
right definition.
The student with the highest number of points wins.

Some words you can use include Aplomb, Brackish, Acumen, Chicane, Diffident, Epiphany,
Facetious, Fiduciary, Filibuster, Hubris, Incognito, Jejune, Kowtow, Laissez-faire,
Lexicon, Nihilism, Nomenclature, Oligarchy, Paradigm, Pecuniary, Quotidian, Sanguine,
Soliloquy, Tempestuous, Totalitarian, Unctuous, Usurp, Vortex, Wrought, and Xenophobe.

10. Board race


Image: Shutterstock

Board race is a team building that also works on the child’s vocabulary.

Number of players: Six or more


You will need: Board and two different colored markers
How to play:
1. Divide the class into two teams. Give each team a pen.
2. Draw a line in the middle of the board, dividing it into two parts, one each for each team.
3. On one side of the board, write down a word.
4. Following the relay method, each team must write words relevant to the theme of the keyword.
5. The team with the highest number of words for a word scores one point.

11. Chain spelling


This is like interlinking two unrelated words, based on their spellings.
Number of players: Six or more
How to play:
1. Write any word on the board.
2. The first student has to take the last four or three letters of that word and form a new word.
3. The second student does the same, and the chain continues until a student is unable to form a
word.
4. The student who fails to form a word or misspells it is out of the game.
Avoid -ing or -ion words. You can increase the complexity of the game by restricting them to a
particular theme or topic.

12. The mime


The mime is a fun game to revise verbs or action words. It can be played with primary or middle
schools kids.

Number of players: Ten or more


You will need: A list of action words
How to play:
1. Write down a list of action words such as gardening, walking the dog, dish washing, eating, or
reading on small pieces of paper. Put them in a bag.
2. Divide the class into two teams.
3. The student has to enact that word while the other students try to guess what the word is.
4. The team that guesses the word correctly gets a point and the team with the maximum points,
wins.

13. Sentence race


Sentence race is a vocabulary review game that works best with higher classes with more than
ten students.

Number of players: Ten or more


You will need: List of 10 vocabulary words, 20 pieces of paper, pen
How to play:
1. Divide the class into two teams.
2. Pick ten or more vocabulary words and write each word on two pieces of paper. You will have two
bundles of vocabulary words.
3. Each team gets a bundle and a marker or chalk.
4. Divide the board into two sections, one for each team.
5. When you call out a word out from the list, one student from each team runs to the board and
writes a sentence with the word in it.
The team that writes the maximum correct and meaningful sentences with the chosen words,
wins.

Memory Games For Kids

Memory games are fun. They compel you to try and recall and reinforce any information that the
brain has received. Here are a few you can try in the classroom.

14. Card recall


This memory game involves the use of flashcards to recall something from the short term
memory.

Number of players: Ten or more


You will need: Flashcards on chosen subject
How to play:
1. Divide the class into pairs and place different sets of flashcards on the table.
2. Each student takes three flash cards from the table and counts to ten, as he or she shows it to the
partner. He then places them face down.
3. The partners have to recall what the three cards are. If they succeed, they get to keep the cards.
The student with the highest number of cards wins the game. This game can also be played at
home, with two or more people.

15. I’m going on a trip


This is a memory game that involves making lists. Variations of this game can be played by
changing ‘on a trip’ to ‘to the market’.

Number of players: Eight or more


How to play:
1. Write the statement “I’m going on a trip and bringing __________” on the board.
2. Ask the first student to fill in the blank with whatever he or she is bringing. For example, ‘I’m going
on a trip and bringing a suitcase’.
3. The remaining students repeat the sentence with the list of things mentioned by the other
students and also add what they are going to bring on the trip. For example, ‘I’m going on a trip
and bringing a suitcase, a hat, a pair of sunglasses and ….’.
4. The students must remember the items mentioned by the others. If they miss even one, they are
out of the game.

16. What’s missing?


A simple game that works well with younger children, ‘What’s missing’ helps the children try
and recall things they have seen recently.

Number of players: Four or more


You will need: Flashcards
How to play:
1. Pick up three to five cards each and show it to the class, for a few seconds.
2. Turn the cards away, shuffle them and show only two of the cards. Ask the class what cards are
missing.
3. You can have two volunteers to show and hold the cards. In that case, you could also ask which
card the person was holding before.
This game may seem too simple for higher classes, but the younger ones will enjoy exercising
their memory.

17. Picture this


Picture this is suitable for students in high school or middle school. It involves paying attention
to details.

Number of players: Two or more


You will need: Two or more images with a lot of detail
How to play:
1. Pick a couple of pictures from the Internet – have at least three to four images, with at least one
image that can be memorized easily.
2. Start by showing the simpler image to the class. Let them see it for a couple of minutes and
memorize it. Ask them to notice the details carefully.
3. Take the image away and ask them questions such as – ‘Was there anything red in the picture?’ or
‘Where was the man with the beard standing in the room’ depending on the image and the
details.
Note that the idea is to help children jog their memory to recall something and not pose difficult
questions. So pick questions about a few evident details that most kids notice, along with a
couple that only a few observant ones do.

Art Games For Classroom

Children have to pay more attention to what they are doing in an art class. And while they learn
how to do that, they can have a little fun too, with these games.

18. Pass the drawing


Yes, pass the drawing. Not the salt or the butter! This game works with all age groups.

Number of players: Eight or more


You will need: Drawing paper, pencils or sketch pens
How to play:
1. Give each student a sheet of paper and a color pen.
2. Set the timer to one minute and ask the kids to draw anything they want using their color pen.
3. When the timer dings, pass the paper to the next person and continue the drawing on the paper
they get.
Pass the sheets around for three or four rounds and see the result. It could be a collaborative
masterpiece for all you know.

19. All about me hats


With this game, everyone can be a mad hatter. The game encourages creativity using mundane
things, or even things considered useless.

Number of players: Five or more


You will need: Hats of different shapes and sizes, stickers, decorative paper and pins, old scraps
of fabric
How to play:
1. Get as many hats as there are students in the classroom.
2. Ask the students to pick a hat.
3. Set a timer for 30 minutes and ask them to decorate the hats in a way that best suits them.
They could also spell their names on the hats to wear them to a class party.
20. Art bingo
Bingo is played for money. But art bingo is played for fun.

Number of players:
You will need: Letter sized paper, pens or pencils
How to play:
1. Give each student a letter-sized sheet of paper. Get them to fold it in half, four times. When they
unfold it, they will have 16 blocks.
2. They can draw lines along the folds or creases to separate the blocks.
3. Create a word bank of 40 words with the help of your students. Number them and write them on
the board.
4. Ask the students to pick any 16 words from the board and write it at the bottom of each block.
They can illustrate the object in the remaining space in the block.
Write numbers one to 40 on slips of paper and put it in a bag. Pick the numbers randomly to play
bingo. Students have to mark the corresponding words, and one who marks all the words first
wins.

21. The combination man drawing game


This is an engaging art activity that you can try at beginner level or even advanced art classes.
The game works well with kids who can draw human shapes and combine two shapes to form a
new one.

Number of players: Six or more


You will need: Papers, color pens or pencils
How to play: Six to eight
1. Each person gets a sheet of paper and pencil.
2. The students begin by drawing the head and the neck or a man, an animal, a robot, or even an
alien. Fold the paper backward at the neck, such that only the bottom of the neck is visible.
3. Pass the paper to the next person, who will draw the torso of any person or creature. They will
fold it again at the end of the waistline, and pass it on.
4. The last person will draw the legs and the remaining body to complete the combination man.
In the end, unfold the paper to see the resultant picture – we guarantee there will be laughter!

Classroom games and activities are fun, but they shouldn’t become a distraction from what’s
important. Children can get carried away in play and find it difficult to get back to serious
learning schedules. A little bit of planning and preparation on how to organize and execute these
games will make them more of a classroom activity and less of a distraction. The right kind of
classroom games combined with proper implementation can make classroom learning all the
more interesting.