This is an idea I learned when I first started teaching and still use to this day. The main focus of the activity is on developing writing skills, but it’s also good for developing listening and reading skills and also for practising past tenses and descriptive vocabulary.
The activity should work at most levels above elementary, as long as your students have some knowledge of past tenses, but it works best when they also know past continuous / progressive too. All you need to get things started is a sheet of plain paper for each pair of students.
The listening part comes first:
- Ask the students to draw the face of a person in the top right-hand corner of the page.
- Once they’ve done this ask them to give the person a name.
- Then on the top left of the page ask them to write five adjectives to describe the person’s appearance.
- Next ask them to write five more adjectives to describe the person’s character.
- After they’ve done this ask the students to write three things that the person likes doing.
- Then ask them to write who the person lives with.
This activity is extremely simple. Each student adds a word to create a group story. Despite the simplicity it can be really challenging and I would only use it with higher levels.
Students should be in a circle (if this isn’t possible make it clear they know who they are going to follow on from).
- The teacher can begin by saying the first word and each student adds the next word, without repeating what has come beforehand.
- The stories can develop in any number of ways. Some groups may need the teacher to provide punctuation and decide that the sentence should end and a new one should begin. The great thing about this activity is that all students have to concentrate and listen carefully to their colleagues to be able to continue the story coherently.
- Good starting words are “Suddenly” or “Yesterday” to force the story into the past tense.Example:
* Teacher – “Yesterday”
* Student 1 – “I”
* Student 2 – “saw”
* Student 3 – “a”
* Student 4 – “strange”
* Student 5 – “man”
* Student 6 – “who”
* Student 7 – “was”
* Student 8 – “wearing”
* Student 9 – “a”
* Student 10 – “yellow”
* Student 11 – “hat”
* Teacher – “Full stop, new sentence”
* Student 12 – “He”
* Student 13 – “was”
* Etc. etc.
- It is great for playing with numbers , them we can use in Maths classes.