This one was inspired by a recent trip to the grocery store, where I broke my rule and began buying a number of things that weren’t originally on my grocery list. I think a good amount of conversation could result by allowing students to tap into their culinary creativity, and those without a clue in the kitchen can ask the ones with more domestic know-how to give suggestions.
STEP 1 – Prepare cards with food items. You’ll need to make enough so that each student will receive 3-4 cards. You can definitely repeat commonly used items, such as salt or flour. Suggestions: tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, green onions, mushrooms, mayonnaise, bananas, oranges, flour, sugar, bread, honey, yogurt, milk, eggs, garlic, almonds, cheese, pickles, rice, and butter. NOTE: In an EFL context, you can include some native foods and herbs.
STEP 2 – Before you distribute the cards in class, engage students with 1-2 questions: What’s your favorite meal of the day? How often do you cook for yourself or for others? After you give the students their sets of cards, explain that they must work together either in pairs or small groups of three. Tell them that you are putting together a cookbook for other students, and they must create 1-2 dishes (appetizer, dessert, etc.) using all their ingredients. Cards can be exchanged with other groups, but students cannot change more than two of their original cards.
STEP 3 – Encourage groups to come up with names for their culinary creations. Let them share their dishes with the class. Provide a model of your own: “My ingredients are tomatoes, butter, bread, and bananas. I created one dish. It’s a tomato sandwich. You put butter on a slice of bread and put a slice of tomato on top. For dessert, you can have banana slices.”
In addition to using this activity as a warm-up, it could also be used in the context of a grammar lesson on count and non-count nouns, or it could be modified to serve as speaking or writing practice for outlining a process.