Surprise Gift: An activity to practice giving and receiving gifts

Last year as Thanksgiving Day approached I became reflective, and in one post I recalled what I was thankful for as a teacher. This year I am just as grateful, but I’ll try to offer something more pratical. Whether you choose to use the following activity in connection to Thanksgiving or simply include it as a warm-up one day, it will get every student smiling and talking.

Step 1 – Prepare a small gift box. Wrap the lid and box so that it can be opened and closed easily.

Step 2 - On the board write the following dialog:

A: This is for you.

B: What is it?

A: Just a little something I thought you’d like. Open it.

B: [opens box] 

  • Wow! It’s ______. How did you know I’ve always wanted this? Thank  you.
  • Hey! A ______. This is just what I need. Thank you very much.
  • Oh! A ______. This is great. I love it. Thanks so much.

A: You’re welcome.

Step 3 - Show the gift box to the students. If possible, place it in the center of the room and have the students sit in a circle around it. Ask them to imagine the gift is for them. What would they love to find inside? Don’t ask for answers to be shared aloud. Just begin the game by modeling the pattern. Ask one student to read the role of Speaker A. As Speaker B, you will go through the motions of opening the box, taking out the imaginary item, identifying it, and expressing your thanks. Then close the box. Assume the role of Speaker A and, using the same dialog, offer the gift to a new student, who will respond as Speaker B. Let the pattern continue until all students have had the chance to give and receive the gift.

Step 4 - Optional. If you’d like, you may lead into a presentation on

  1. using rise-fall intonation to express strong emotion (as with “Wow!”)
  2. expressing thanks in different situations
  3. using a certain verb form – For example, you could ask students to look at the dialog and identify:
  • A verb that expresses future in the past: “…I thought you‘d like.” = [would + base verb]
  • A verb that expresses a request: “Open it.” [imperatives]
  • A verb that expresses a desire that began in the past and still exists: “…I‘ve always wanted this?” [present perfect]
Explore posts in the same categories: Conversation, Grammar, Pronunciation

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3 Comments on “Surprise Gift: An activity to practice giving and receiving gifts”


  1. [...] Did you catch my round-robin activity to practice gift giving and giving thanks? Click here. [...]


  2. [...] Surprise Gift: An activity to practice giving and receiving gifts [...]


  3. […] Thanksgiving Day approaches, I must pause and give thanks for many things. In my professional life, my appreciation for online opportunities continues to […]


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