Throw a party – Create-It #4

Throw a Party - A speaking activity for ESL Class - Great for present continuous tense

Yay! A Party!

I like to use this speaking activity at the end of units on special occasions or holidays around the world. It’s also a good way to practice using present continuous, going to, planning to, and other future grammar structures. It’s one of those simple, fun activities that require very little prep, but really get students engaged.

Here’s what I do:

  1. Display the slide above on the projector, or write the questions on the board. You might also want to use this Party Planning Worksheet to help your students organize their ideas on paper.
  2. Divide the class into groups. Explain that they are going to work together to come up with an idea for a party. After they finish, they will need to present their ideas to the class,and invite their classmates. 
  3. Read through the questions to make sure that everyone understands them.
  4. Let your students get to work. (I suggest giving them a specific amount of time to plan).
  5. Groups make their presentations.
  6. (Optional) Do a class vote: Who had the most creative party idea? Whose party would you most like to attend?

I made you a worksheet! 

Here is a worksheet that you can print out to help your students organize their ideas: Party Planning Worksheet

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Create a Trivia Quiz – Create-It Task #3

Create a Trivia Quiz

Here’s an activity that I like because it gets students practicing lots of skills (speaking, reading, writing, grammar, and just working collaboratively), and it requires very little prep-time for you. I usually find that once students get into it, they’re all really active and they don’t need much help from me at all. I just kinda hover around, checking question structure and assisting with the occasional vocabulary word.

This week I used it after reviewing question words and structure with my adult pre-intermediate class, and it was really fun and productive. I’m sure it would work well with higher levels and younger age groups, too.

In case you can’t see the image above, it reads:

Create a Trivia Quiz:

Write a trivia quiz with 7 questions. After you finish, you will quiz the other teams. You may choose one or more of the following topics:

  • entertainment
  • sports
  • geography
  • history
  • The United States
  • The city where you are now


  • The answers should be FACTS, not opinions.
  • Each question should have ONE correct answer.
  • You must know the answer to the question. (You may use the internet to research.)
  • Try to write questions that are challenging but not impossible.

Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. Start by teaching a lesson on question words and/or question structure. (I usually use this activity to practice present tense questions. If you decide to use it for questions in other tenses, you might want to modify the topics.)
  2. Next, I would recommend playing a team trivia game with pre-written questions. This step is helpful because students can use it as a model when they write their own quizzes later. Some ESL class books have mini trivia quizzes where students have to guess the answer to questions on some random topic. If you don’t have one in your book, you can find one on the internet or make up one of your own. I like to split my class up into teams, ask them to choose team names, and have them guess the correct answers together. (No Google allowed!) After they finish, we review the answers. Teams get two points for every completely correct answer, and one point for every partially correct answer.
  3. Now that your teams are warmed up and in competition mode, it’s time to start the activity above. I like to keep students in the same teams as in the previous activity. You might choose to display the image at the top of the page, or create one of your own that reflects what your class is doing more closely. If you don’t have the technology available in your classroom, you can just write the first part of the prompt on the board, and explain the rules orally.
  4. After the teams have their question ready, they can take turns quizzing each other. Every time a team gets a correct answer, they get 1 point.

Other notes

  • If you’re lucky enough to have Ipads or other technology available, this is the time to use them. Because my students are adults, I also let them use the internet on their cellphones for research. If you don’t have the technology, you can bring in books, magazines, brochures, or printouts from the internet for students to use in their research.
  • One minor problem I’ve had is that some groups often write questions that are impossible or very difficult to answer correctly. For that type of question, you might encourage your students to give multiple choice options for the answers. (Do you have any other ideas on how to solve this? Please share them in the Comment section.)
  • If you aren’t teaching question structure to pre-intermediate students, you can probably think of other ways to adapt this activity into your curriculum. For example, if you happen to teach a content class to ESL students, you might change the possible categories to reflect what you’ve been learning. (If you teach history, you might allow students to write questions on any of the wars that you’ve studied over the semester.)


Have you tried this activity in your class or used your own variation of it? I’d love to hear about how it went. Please share your ideas in the comment box! And as always, if you have any questions for me, please feel free to ask.

Design Your Own Park: Create-it Task #2

Design a Park

Hi there! I’ve recently started a new website called ESL Airplane, and I’m in the process of updating and moving all of my posts from In Your Country over there. Click here to see the updated version of this post, plus lots more :


I sometimes have the opportunity to take a class on a field trip to a local park. As a follow-up activity, I like to ask students to get creative and come up with concepts for their own parks. They might, for example, create an aquarium-themed park, a teenager-only park a trampoline park, or a food park complete with pizza-shaped slides. The more unusual, the better!

What to do:

  1. Brainstorm a list of park-related vocabulary, and create a class list of new words.
  2. Divide your class into small groups.
  3. Introduce the topic. Display the slide above, or create a list of questions of your own that you would like students to respond to. Give them time to discuss.
  4. (Optional, but recommended) Hand out poster paper, and instruct students to draw a picture of their new park.
  5. Give students time to prepare a presentation for their classmates. Tell them that they should be able to describe their picture, and explain why their idea deserves to win the new park competition.
  6. (Also optional) After all groups have presented, take a class survey: Which group should win the competition, and why?

Did you like this activity?

If you like this type of activity, please let me know in the comment section below, and I’ll post more like it. And if you tried this out in your class, I’d love to know how it worked out for you.

Design Your Own Restaurant: Create-It Task #1

Create your own restaurant!
Create your own restaurant!



Hi There! I just wanted to let you know that you can find an updated version of the Design Your Own Restaurant prompt, and lots of other new stuff right here: My New Site: ESL Airplane

Please come visit!


Yum! Food!

Most ESL textbooks include a chapter on food, and in my experience, that chapter is usually everyone’s favorite. Students of all levels are able to talk about what they like to eat and describe the foods that they miss from back home. I usually use the following create-it task at the end of a food unit to give students a chance to practice new vocabulary or grammar structures.

I’ve used variations of this creative activity with Beginner to Intermediate level students, and they always seem to enjoy it. It can be surprisingly easy to set up, and doesn’t require tons of advance planning. If you have the technology available, you could display the slide above, or create one with your own questions. If you don’t, you can simply write your questions on the board.

What to do: 

  1. Divide your students into small groups and tell them that they are business partners. They have decided to open up a little restaurant. Because they are on a budget, they have to keep the menu small. (I usually limit it to 3-5 items because I find that bigger menus can be overwhelming and take a long time to present.) You might brainstorm some possible restaurant themes as a whole class, and list them on the board.
  2. In groups, have students respond to the questions on the board and prepare a presentation for the class. You might have them create a physical menu or poster to show the class, although I don’t often do that with my adult students.
  3. Groups make their presentations, and everyone gets really hungry.

Variations and Follow-Up Lesson Ideas:

If your students created menus, this is the perfect time to do a lesson on how to order food. First, brainstorm useful expressions for ordering at a restaurant, and/or present a simple restaurant dialogue. Them allow them to walk around, “visit” each other’s restaurants, and practice ordering.