Tuesday, 16 February 2016

"My Amazing Day" ESL Story Creating Conversation and Writing Activity


Hey all, I just came up with this idea for a conversation class that I can do with just about any level. As some of you may know, the Korean school year is fast ending but some of us still have to teach but we have nothing left to teach (textbook wise) so lately I've tried doing some more laid back classes that are more about creativity and practicing speaking.

This activity could be used for elementary grade 5-6 as well as all the way up to adult level, I think. It uses a bit of simple writing and then speaking, a lot depending on how creative.

1. First, give the students a blank paper, recyclable is fine as long as one side is blank. You could even use a blank page in their notebook. Next, ask them to draw a grid of 6 boxes - you can fold this or draw this using a ruler or just freehand lines. As long as there are 6 boxes around the same size, it's fine.

Like this:

2. After that,  you're going to call out (or read out, and have them written on the board or popping up on a PPT) 5 instructions, which are all words you want them to write down on a blank , scrap piece of paper - one word for each box. (Yes, I know there are 6 boxes, one is left blank.)

The 5 instructions (change level accordingly to English ability):


  • BOX 1. Write down a number over 1 but less than 10,000.
  • BOX 2. Write down an animal, vegetable and fruit.
  • BOX 3. Write down a celebration or holiday. (birthday, New Year's Day, etc)
  • BOX 4. Write down a famous celebrity or famous band you know.
  • BOX 5. Write down a country (not your homeland).

3. Now, once you have gone through all the instructions and each student has a word or more in 5 of their boxes, tell them to write 1 word ANY WORD THEY WANT into the 6th box. It can be anything they like, as long as it's an English word and preferably not a swear word. 
Warning: Likely chance you'll get a kid writing 'dung', but hey, it's not a swear word, I'd allow it. 

TIP: Have your own table of boxes to show the kids as well, so you can explain the next step easier. I advise you only reveal this after they get writing, to avoid copying. Or just say, no copying me! hehe


4. Finally, you explain to them that all these words in their boxes are going to be used to create a story. A story about their "One Amazing Day". Now, according to level you can adjust things, read on and I'll let you know...

Explain the following:


  • BOX 1. The number you wrote down, is the amount of money you must spend that day. What will you buy? Where will you go to buy it? Will you buy 1 thing or many things?
  • BOX 2. The food you will eat that day! The ingredients are the animal, vegetable and fruit you wrote down.What is the name of your dish? How did you cook it? Was it delicious? 
  • BOX 3. The celebration you wrote is what you will celebrate on your Amazing day. What is it? What will you do there? Who is with you to celebrate?
  • BOX 4. What celebrity or band did you choose? They are going to be you fashion inspiration. You want to dress up in clothes like them. What are you wearing? Do you like it? Are you beautiful/handsome?
  • BOX 5. The country you chose is where you will spend this amazing day. What do you do there? What do you visit? What language do you learn? 
  • BOX 6. You must use the word you used when you talk about your amazing day, at least once. It must be a sentence in your story.
Sudden Idea! - you could change the celebrity/band (BOX 4) for a cartoon character, especially for the younger ones. So then, they would be dressed as Iron man or Sponge-bob for their amazing day. haha!

Now, I realize this could be more difficult for lower level. That's where a co-teacher comes in handy and the dictionary! But it's not about writing an essay or long story, they can bullet point ideas and you can give them time to brainstorm, then ask those who are keen enough to share.
If you have really shy students, go over 1 box at a time with your class, making a number of students answer at a time, try to get everyone talking about at least 1 box. Encourage creativity. More importantly, you should demonstrate your crazy story first. 

If you have time, get them to illustrate their boxes or story as a whole. 

This could be great for higher level students, even adults. Encourage as much creativity as you can. Go around the class and help with ideas and thoughts. If you have a really low level class or very large class this activity could also be done in pairs or groups of three.






A sample Amazing Day Story, by Mrs. Baia:




Happy Teaching! 

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