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Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Another activity that older children love is the traditional consequences game. It's very old game and there's nothing new about it, but I think it's worth reminding ourselves of some of the older activities that get put away and forgotten about. The only materials required are a piece of A4 paper and a pen for each student. The activity is carried out in lockstep and practises listening and writing. It is very simple and can be adapted in many ways to suit your purpose and the level of the students. As in Flash the picture, this activity allows each student to work at their own level - starting off very simply but allowing more detail from faster students. One of the best things about it is that the learners see it as a kind of game, but really they are doing a writing task!

The version that I did last week with my teenage group and with a group of ten-year-olds is one found in the same book as Flash the Picture:

It is called Fake Biographies and in it the students each write a piece of information about an anonymous member of the class. The procedure is as follows:

1) Give each student a piece of paper and tell them to write at the top "My name is ..." with their name. They should then fold the top of the paper back twice, so that the name is hidden. I also do the same - students love it when the teacher takes part in something a bit silly, too.

2) Take in all the papers and randomly give them out. They are not allowed to open the paper!

3) Say "I am ... years old" and the students complete it with ANY number. It is important that from now on, the students use their imaginations. Encourage them to be inventive and even slightly outrageous - this will make for funnier results.

4) Carry on doing the same, making up a new piece of information each time. This will, of course, depend on the age and level of the learners. Some of the "questions" I used were:

I was born in... (place)
I have ---- brothers and ... sisters.
My favourite TV programme is ....
My favourite singer is ...
In my free time I like to ....
Last year, I went on holiday to ....
I met ... and we ....

You can also ask actual questions if you think the students are capable of writing complete sentences by themselves: What's your name? How many brothers and sisters have you got? What's your favourite TV programme? etc

5) The students then opened their paper and read the description. I got them to copy out the information onto a piece of paper as a paragraph. They had to correct any spelling or grammar mistakes as they did so.

6) They then gave the biography to the person whose name was at the top and each student read theirs out to the class. They also had to say if anything was true.

We have also played the same type of game with a story (as in the orginal consequences game) - this is always good preparation for story telling and writing. You start with a main character, introduce another character, and go on to write about where they went, what they did and said and so on. I usually do this with introductory sentences such as:

His name was...     He was... years old.      He was from ...    He was .... (physically).
Her name was...    She was ... years old.    She was from ...   She was ... (physically).
They met in/at ....    He said "..."    She said "...."    They went to ....    In the end they ....

This kind of activity can be used with any age group and level from elementary upwards. For younger children or beginners, you could pre-print out the beginnings of the sentences for the students to complete.

Another version, good for higher levels,  is to mix sentences with drawings. Each person writes a sentence and passes the paper on. The next person reads the sentences and draws a picture illustrating it. They then fold the paper and pass it on. The following person can only see the drawing, and must write a sentence summarising the picture, and so on.

By evalottchen on flickr

One of the good things about it is that everybody wants to listen to each other (something very rare with teenage groups!) at the end, and everybody ends up laughing - it's a real feel good activity that's perfect to use at the end of term when something more relaxing is required but you don't want to just play games all lesson. Highly recommended!
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