Back-to-School Activity: Classroom web

This is the second of the two promised activities for the first week back to school. As I explained, each one was originally intended for elementary and middle school children. They have been modified and expanded for the adult ESL classroom.

Activity: Classroom web (Original submitted by Melissa Walker of Graham, NC)

Object: To weave a web of yarn as a class to symbolize the interaction and the unity needed in the classroom.

STEP 1: Bring a large ball of yarn to class and ask everyone to stand in a circle.

STEP 2: Model what you want the students to say to introduce themselves. How much information shared will depend on the students’ language level. Suggestions:

  • Name
  • Home country
  • One thing you like – OR – one interesting fact
  • One language goal – OR – how long you’ve been studying English


STEP 3: After you make your own introduction, hold on to one end of the yarn and throw it to a student across from you. That student will introduce himself or herself in a similar manner, hold on to the string that connects him/her to you, and then throw the ball of yarn to another student. The game continues, and as it does, a web is formed.


“My name is Jennifer. I’m from the U.S. I like to cook new dishes I see on TV. I’ve been teaching English since 1996.” [Throw]


[Catch] “My name is Alex. I’m from China. I like sports. I’ve been studying English for about four years.” [Throw]


STEP 4: When the game is over, ask the students what the yarn reminds them of. If they don’t know the word “web,” teach it. Explain the importance of everyone’s participation and the need to respect both the group and the individuals in the classroom. Ask them to remember this activity as they begin to study together as a class.


  • Step 4 could lead into a short discussion of classroom rules. E.g., no interrupting and always come prepared to participate.)
  • You could do both this activity and the previous one, the class-create puzzles. You might use the puzzles more as an ice breaker and then use the web to focus on language goals and classroom rules.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Nina Lyulkun says:

    Dear Jennifer,
    Thanks a bunch for the wonderful ideas you have been sharing with us. You are really ROCK! I am following your materials you’ve been wholeheartedly sharing with others.
    Your ideas and methods of teaching are unbelievable.
    Thank you again and again.


    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      I’m so happy to hear that my ideas are helping some teachers out there. If by chance you actually try one of these back-to-school activities, please let me know how it goes. Maybe you can add some suggestions. Thanks for your comment, Nina.

  2. Nina Lyulkun says:

    Exactly, Jennifer, I will. I am going to try one (Classroom web) with my freshmen tomorrow or Tuesday next week. I will see how much time I have at my first lesson with them.
    Actually, I am aware about this wonderful method. My young colleague and I participated at one of the SEAL conferences in Canterbury, England, in 2001, and he demonstrated this web method. It was really excited. Everyone enjoyed it. However, I have forgetten about it since then, and now, thanks to your posting here, I am intended to use it again.
    Thanks a lot, dearest Jennifer. You are super with your wonderful tips and ideas.
    BTW, I come from Russia. 😉

    The best,

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