English Activities with an Autumn Theme


1. Autumn in New York as performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong will expose students to a good number of -ing sounds, including gleaming, shimmering, and inviting. (See lyrics.) The use of a hard /g/ in “mingled” is a nice contrast. The song is sung at a slow pace, which makes it even better for listening comprehension and recognition of sounds. These two artists made a strong contribution to American music, and encouraging research about their biographies would teach students about American culture.

2. The Poetry Foundation has compiled fall-inspired poems. Not all are appropriate for ELLs, but a few could work well:
November Night by Adelaide Crapsey has only one verse and the short lines lend themselves to repetition. The simple, focused attention on the sound of autumn leaves bring the season to life.
Theme in Yellow by Carl Sandburg is longer, but still very accessible and nicely lyrical. It paints imagery associated with Halloween.
Halloween Party by Kenn Nesbitt also ties into the October 31 holiday. However, these lines hold more humor, with the final words serving as a punchline. The poem is appropriate for young learners.

3. Recipe websites like allrecipes.com and BBC’s goodfood provide plenty of text to scan and images to salivate over. Butternut squash or pumpkin pancakes? How about apple and blackberry crumble? A fun exercise that forces students to scan rather than read for detailed understanding is to select three dishes they wish they could try. They can also scan for modifiers:
– Can they find at least one synonym for “delicious”? (tasty, yummy, scrumptious)
– Can they find find adjectives that refer to the method of cooking? (roasted, braised, fried)
– Recipes, especially their initial descriptions, are full of compound words like cinnamon-spiced, restaurant-style, and slow-roasted. Can students list five examples?

4. Town and Country Magazine has recommended 11 classic films for the autumn. Number 2 on their list is When Harry Met Sally, with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. I’ve used clips from this well-known love story and turned the scripts into pronunciation practice. Movie Clips on YouTube has 11 excerpts to choose from.

5. Fall foliage is the highlight of the season! A short webquest about the changing of the leaves could increase students’ comfort with online searches in English.
Weather.com has a fall foliage map, but SmokyMountains.com has a much cooler one that lets you slide a bar to see the progression of fall across the U.S. Thrillist.com gives actual dates as part of the fall foliage prediction. A fun fact-gathering task is to post 1-2 questions and have students find the answers online. Today is September 22, for example. Where might I see the best colors in the U.S.?

Photo credit: Trees, Avenue, Autumn, Away, Mood by pixel2013. Retrieved from the Public Domain at https://pixabay.com/en/trees-avenue-autumn-away-mood-1789120/.

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