Having the Relatives Over: 7 Awesome Activities for Teaching Relative Clauses

Having the Relatives Over
7 Awesome Activities for Teaching Relative Clauses

Susan Verner
by Susan Verner 7,023 views |

Are you looking for some interesting and out of the ordinary ways to practice relative clauses with your students?

Here are some fun and creative activities you can do with your students today.

Try These 7 Fun and Creative Activities for Teaching Relative Clauses

  1. 1

    A Relative Story

    Do you ever have your class tell a story together? One person starts telling the story out loud and when she stops the next person takes up with the very next line. You can do this same activity with a twist when it comes time to practice relative clauses. Before you start your story, write the following phrases on the board:

    • A person who…
    • A place where…
    • A thing that…
    • A time when…

    You might take a minute or two to explain how these sentences might be completed and give your students a few examples. Then start a story or have one of your students start the story. Each person continues the story where the other person lets off, but the speaker does not pass the storytelling to the next person until he uses a relative clause. When your class tells a story this way, you might end up with a story that starts like this.

    One afternoon, I met a person who was wearing a black coat. I thought he might be going to a place where evil people gather. He was carrying a thing that looked like a sword. He might use it on a person who makes him mad, I thought…

  2. 2

    Relative Clause Go Fish

    Go Fish is such a fun and versatile game, and it is simple to make your own set of cards to go along with just about any topic you are teaching. To play go fish while practicing relative clauses, gather several pictures, two copies of each for each set of playing cards. You might use photographs, pictures from magazines, or those you print from online. If you like, you can even have students draw the pictures. Make sure your collection of pictures includes people, places, and things. When you play the game normally, a player might ask, “Do you have a fish.” But to practice relative clauses, students will ask questions such as the following: do you have a person who is wearing red? Do you have a person who helps other people? Do you have a place where people go on vacation? If the description matches a card in the other player’s hand, they must give that card to the other person. Those two cards then make a pair even if they are not the same picture. Students play until all the cards are gone or until they can no longer think of a relative phrase to match the cards that are left. As usual, the person with the most pairs is the winner.

  3. 3

    Relative Memory

    If you take the time to make the cards to play Go Fish, try using those same cards for a game of memory. Again, two pictures do not have to be the same to make a pair. When a player flips two cards, he must simply make a sentence using a relative clause that applies to both pictures. For example, a player might turn over a car and a yacht and say, “These are both things which people travel in.” That would then be a pair and he would get to go again. Players play until all the cards are gone or until they can no longer figure out a match. The player with the most matches wins the game.

  4. 4

    Which Picture?

    In this activity, students will try to win as many cards as they can. Two students will start with three pictures in front of them. (You can gather a collection of pictures from a magazine, photos, online, or ask students to bring in interesting pictures to start a class collection.) One person makes a statement using a nondefining relative clause. The listener then has to choose the right picture. If they do, they keep the picture. The players add another picture so there are again three, and the players switch roles. Play until one person wins five pictures.

  5. 5

    21 Questions

    Twenty-One questions is another game that is one of my favorites for ESL students. They get practice asking questions while puzzling out secrets their classmates are keeping. You can have your students practice using relative clauses in this simple game by requiring a relative clause in each question, that is until the final guess at what the item is. So instead of saying Is it black? Students would ask Is it something which is black?

  6. 6

    Relative Mad Libs

    This is a silly activity that will get some laughs from your class members. Have each person write the names of five classmates on a piece of paper in random order. They should write the names in a column along the left hand side of the paper. Then students should fold over the left edge of their paper so the names are covered. Everyone shifts their papers to the next person. In the second column, each person writes five relative clauses starting with who such as who is very tall, who went to Paris last year, who likes to eat stinky cheese. They then fold over the left side of their paper to hide what they have written before passing the paper to the next person. Finally, students write five verb phrases in the third column such as bought a car, went to the grocery store, stood on their head. Once they are finished, collect the papers and read aloud the silly sentences your students came up with. They should be something along the lines of Jose, who likes curling his hair, ate an elephant. Feel free to laugh at the silly sentences that your students come up with.

  7. 7

    It’s All Balderdash

    If you have ever played Balderdash, you know what a fun game it is. You can play your own version when practicing relative clauses. Write out ten words students won’t know on two different lists. Try looking at a random page in the dictionary if you can’t come up with some unusual words on your own or try the following: capo, bibble, cabotage, firman, gabelle, impignorate, macromasmatic, oxter, paudiloquent, ratoon, and xertz. Divide your class into two groups and have each work together to write one real definition and three false definitions for each word on their list. Each definition must use a relative clause. After the groups are done, have them switch lists. Students should now read the possible definitions for each word and make a guess as to which one is correct. If they guess the correct definition, they score a point. If they guess wrong, the other team scores a point. See which team guesses more correct definitions.

fun and creative

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