As we brace for another potential blizzard here in New England, I can only think of one thing: snow. Cold snow. Deep snow. White snow. Snow flurries, snow drifts, and snow-covered roads. Snow. I know that other parts of the world are basking in warm sunshine right now, but it’s hard for me to remember the world without snow.
There’s a reason why weather is often a conversation starter. It’s easy to talk about. It doesn’t immediately require complex thought or personal revelations. For that reason, I think weather can be a good jumping off point in an ESL lesson.
1. Acrostic Warm-up. Write a single word vertically on the board. The word should reflect the current weather. As a class or in pairs, students can write an acrostic poem. Encourage full participation from everyone. All contributions should be welcome. Model:
Noses that get cold
Only white all around
Warm hot chocolate in a mug
2. Poetry Clubs. You can have more fun by putting students into groups and having them write an acrostic poem from a certain point of view. Name each group: Optimist Club, Pessimist Club, Go-Getter Club, Club of Imagination. Dictionaries can be used to prompt ideas. Have them read their poems aloud and see if each group captures the spirit of their club name
- The Optimist Club might produce:
Blankets of beautiful snow
Light snow falls on my face
Icicles hang like diamonds
Zipper up and stay warm
Zillions of snowflakes
Amazingly high hills of snow
Really fun winter sports
Down the hill we go in our sled
- The Pessimist Club might compose:
Bothered by the cold
Layers and layers of snow I must shovel
Icicles are dangerous
Zippers don’t keep me warm
Zoom away to a warmer climate
Really slippery outside
Disgusting slush on the roads
Share the poems – and the laughs – and talk about which poem each student can relate to best. Follow-up questions for discussion:
- Do you like the weather we’re having? What kind of weather do you enjoy the most?
- Is this the kind of weather you grew up with?
- Does the weather affect your lifestyle? Explain.
A helpful resource for acrostic poems is available at readwritethink.org. Students can play around with the tools in or out of class. Users first select a single word to base their poem on. They click to the next page and then brainstorm a list of related words. The third screen nicely invites users to start building lines based on their list. Additional editing is allowed before printing or sharing by email.