Do you keep a bag of props in your classroom? I’ve known teachers who used various props in their grammar and vocabulary presentations, from hand puppets to bouncing balls. Props can also come in handy for making stories. We all know about chain stories, but consider the variations listed below. All you need is a large container (opaque, not transparent) that can hold 15-20 small items. Choose from utensils, grooming kits, children’s play sets, stationery, and more. Have a mix of common items and unusual ones.
Grab Bag Story. Use this whole group activity as a warm-up or end-of-the-lesson filler. The container of props will be passed around the room. Each student will take a turn pulling out an item and stating a sentence based on the object they’re holding. Each sentence should build on to the previous ones, forming a logical (and likely amusing) story.
Grammar Connections. (No, this isn’t a reference to the textbook series.) The format is similar to Grab Bag Story, but student-generated sentences do not necessarily have to form a narrative. On one side of the board make a list of target words or phrases students must use. On the other side, you can record students’ sentences.
- For a group of high beginners, you might list irregular verbs as base verbs. Have each student take an item from the container and select a target verb to create a sentence in the simple past tense. You can erase words from the list as they are used and write students’ sentences on the other side of the board. Suggestions for irregular verbs: (napkin – eat), (toy car – drive), (pen – write), (knife – cut), (magazine – read), (marker – draw), (eyeglasses – see), etc.
- This activity can also be modified to practice phrasal verbs (napkin – eat out, wipe off), (toy car – pick up), (pen – write down), (knife – cut out, cut up), (magazine – look through), (marker- play around, wash out), (eyeglasses – look over), etc.
- Other suitable grammar topics: adjective clauses (list relative pronouns on the board), adverb clauses (list subordinating conjunctions on the board), order of modifiers (list adjectives on the board).
Lucky Lot Story. In this variation place students in small groups. Have one member of each group grab a handful of items without looking in the container. The collection items will be placed in the middle of a group, and members must create a story based on those items. As in Grammar Connections, you should require the use of target grammar by listing prompts on the board.