Try These 7 No-Prep Activities for Teaching Idioms
Write three or four idioms on the board that all touch on one theme (e.g. animals, body parts). Have students work in groups to see if they can guess the meaning of the idioms. Walk around your classroom and check their answers awarding points for any correct definition. Then share the meanings of the idioms with your class and give them an example in context. Move on to another group of idioms around a second theme. Repeat the activity. The first team to reach ten points wins the game.
Keep a running list of idioms in your classroom. As students hear an idiom or come across one in their studies, add it to a list on a bulletin board or poster board in your classroom. Your students can then use this list as a reference during conversation periods or when writing.
Have each of your students write a dialogue rich with idioms. You may want to encourage students to check online idiom dictionaries as they write. Then, have students exchange papers with a partner. The second student must then rewrite the dialogue eliminating all of the idioms but without changing the meaning of the conversation.
Idiom Reverse Translation
Have students choose an original composition and rewrite it using as many idioms as they possibly can. Students can model their stories after any children’s book rich with idioms. (If you aren’t sure where to start, try any of these books by Fred Gwynn: A Little Pigeon Toad, The King Who Rained, A Chocolate Moose for Dinner.) After rewriting their stories, have students exchange papers and highlight the idioms that their classmates used in the story.
The Great Idiom Race
After you have studied idioms and your students have learned several, play a game with your class to see who can use the most idioms. Break your class into two groups: boys and girls or older students and younger students. Give each team a container to keep track of idiom use. (You can also keep a tally in a corner of your classroom.) During class, if a student uses an idiom, put a marble, bean or other counter in that teams container. Watch as the two containers fill faster and faster as the competition heats up. At the end of the semester, see which team has used the most idioms. The other team must then serve them at a pizza party or other celebration.
Self Study Quizzes
In classrooms with internet access, let your students work on classroom computers or connect to the wi-fi network via their smart devices. Several web sites offer self study idiom lessons and quizzes. Have your students start with a4esl.org (self study idiom quizzes) and then see where their studies take them.
Busy Teacher Resource
Don’t forget to check out busyteacher.org for worksheets on idioms. We have idiom exercises perfect for any classroom, all with just a click of the mouse.
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