Try These 7 Idiom Activities to Get Your Students' Creativity Flowing
Back to the Source
Can your students guess how an idiom might have originated? If not, can they tell a creative story that shows how the idiom could have come to be? Give groups of three or four students a choice of idioms, and then ask each group to write a short story that illustrates how that idiom came to be. Have students illustrate their stories and then post them in your classroom for the rest of the class to enjoy.
Younger students will especially enjoy illustrating idioms and their meanings. Have each student choose an idiom to illustrate. Give her a large sheet of paper, which she should divide into two sections. On one half, she draws a picture that illustrates the meaning of the idiom. On the other half, she draws a literal representation of the idiom. Post the pictures around the room and challenge your class to guess which idiom their classmate illustrated, looking to both pictures as clues. If you like, you can also compile these idioms into a class book that will be available during independent reading time.
A Piece of Culture
Once your students have an adequate understanding of idioms in English, ask each person to share one or two idioms from his native language with the class. Each person should write down a word for word translation of an idiom in her first language and hand it in to you. You then compile all of the idioms on one sheet and make copies for each of your students. In groups, students must work together to guess the source (student and culture) and the meaning of each idiom.
After your students are familiar with several idioms, play this charade type game to review. Write each idiom on an index card, shuffle them, and have them ready for each student as he takes his turn. On his turn, the student comes to the front of the room, chooses a card and then acts out that idiom. The rest of the class must guess which idiom he is acting out. If you like, play in teams with two students acting out the same idiom. The team to correctly guess the idiom first scores a point.
Challenge your students to create their own idioms. For their nonliteral phrase, have each person describe the situation which could have brought about the new idiom and draw a picture of that situation. Then, have students write the idiom on the back of their picture. Hang these pictures from your ceiling (paper clips and string are often all you need) so students can see the pictures and guess the idioms on their backs.
Have each student write a movie review working with one other classmate. Students start by writing a review using as many idioms as possible. Then, using smart phones, personal technology devices or a video camera, have students perform and record their movie reviews and then email them to you. Set aside some class time to watch the reviews while munching on popcorn letting students enjoy their own and their classmates’ hard work and entertainment.
Improvisation is a sure fire way to get your students engaged and energetic about learning English. To bring idioms into the improv ring, create three sets of index cards one with several idioms (one to a card), a second with various settings for the scene, and a third with some characters that your students will have to play. Choose two people to improvise the situation. Each person chooses a character card and an idiom card. The pair chooses a situation card. The volunteers continue with the scene until each person has appropriately used their idiom. Then, give another pair a turn strutting their stuff.