Pot-luck Practice with Participles

March 17 is the next big holiday on the U.S. calendar. For many, St. Patrick’s Day evokes images of leprechauns with pots of gold. Have some fun with a play on words and teach the concept of a pot-luck dinner. Ask if anyone has ever attended such a meal where all invited guests bring a dish without knowing in advance who’s bringing what. Lead into the following activity, which was designed for upper level students.

Try using “Pot-luck Practice” as a warm-up activity or as a lead-in to a lesson on participial adjectives.

STEP 1 – Have each student write down one thing they ate for dinner last night. They should use general words, for example, chicken, fish, or rice. Don’t use specific names of dishes.

STEP 2– Ask students to form groups of 4 or 5 in such a way that there are no or very few duplicate foods.

STEP 3 – Ask students to identify which foods were eaten raw or cooked.  On the board, write different types of food preparation using past participles: fried, baked, steamed, broiled, stewed, shredded, etc. Group members will then identify how they ate their foods: baked chicken, steamed rice, etc.

STEP 4 – Tell students that they must write a menu using all their foods. They should try to make the menu sound as delicious as possible as they will be sharing it with the class as if their classmates were dinner guests at a resturant. Give them a model with phrases they can use:

“We offer a tempting selection of dishes. First, you have a choice of baked or fried chicken. You can add a steaming bowl of white rice. You might also wish to try our broiled fish. It’s an interesting dish with lemon, garlic, and herbs.”

Helpful phrases:  we offer, we’d like to offer, you might wish to try, we recommend (this dish), the chef can prepare….

Helpful -ing adjectives: steaming, good-tasting, amazing, sizzling, tempting, interesting…

Helpful -ed adjectives: baked, broiled, steamed, carefully prepared, artfully arranged…

STEP 5 – Have each group nominate a maitre d’ to read the menu aloud to the class.

NOTE: You can highlight the grammar at the conclusion of the activity. Students should understand that past participles were used with a passive meaning (baked chicken = someone baked the chicken) and present participles are used with an active meaning (a tempting dish = the dish can tempt you).


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