Holiday Shopping on a Budget: Activating comparative and superlative structures

HOLIDAY SHOPPING ON A BUDGET: Activating comparative and superlative structures

Are you looking for a last-minute holiday activity? Try getting your students to do some shopping together. In the process they can activate grammatical structures for making comparisons.

STEP 1:  Gather catalogs in advance. (Look through all your junk mail…your neighbor’s, too!) You’ll need at least three catalogs per department or category: toys, electronics, clothing, household goods, etc.*

STEP 2: Prepare shopping lists that small groups can work from. MODEL:



      BUDGET: $500

     1.  Sally (15 yrs.) – sweater

     2.  Ron (25 yrs.) – camcorder

     3.  Tim (40 yrs.) – tool set

     4.  Matt (3 yrs.) – toy train or truck

     5.  Natalia (8 yrs.) – dress

As an alternative, you could use the names of classmates and teachers. You could even allow students to create their own wish lists (one item per person).

STEP 3: Review the grammatical structures you wish to target. (…more than, the most, less than, the least, etc.) More advanced students can also use equatives (as good as, not as expensive as, etc.)

STEP 4: Break students into groups of 3 or 4. Each group will receive a shopping list, a budget, and access to a common pile of catalogs. Remind students that all groups are sharing the catalogs, so unused ones should go back in the common pile. The goal of the activity is to buy a gift for each person on their list without going over the budget. In making their choices, students should use comparative and/ or superlative structures. EXAMPLE: “Let’s get a sweater for Sally from L. L. Bean. Their prices are cheaper than Talbots.”

STEP 5: Each group should present their choices to you in writing. (One student in each group can be the designated writer.) EXAMPLES: “We bought a sweater for Sally from L. L. Bean because they had the biggest selection. It was only $20.” / “Circuit City has better prices than Best Buy. We chose a camcorder for Ron for $299.”


*VARIATION: If your school makes computers accessible in the classroom, you could use online stores in place of paper catalogs. Prepare a list of addresses in advance so that students spend time searching within sites and not for sites.

SUGGESTION: Although I’ve presented this as an activity for the December holidays, you could always modify it to suit another occasion (e.g., multiple birthdays in a given month).


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