Sometimes it can be daunting to face a blank piece of paper when planning the first lesson after the summer. This first class is important. If it’s too easy the students might complain because “it’s too easy”. If it’s all games they might complain because “we didn't do anything”. If it’s too difficult… well, you know. These are the 3 kind of activities I usually do.
1. A getting-to-know-each-other activity. See link here.
2. Vocabulary revision.
3. Grammar revision.
5 activities to revise vocabulary
1. Flashcards. Very Young Learners / Young Learners
Bring a set of flashcards from last year. Throw them onto the floor and get the students to arrange them in groups, eg, all the colours together, all the food together etc.
To set up this activity in an orderly manner, once you have the flashcards on the floor, get one yourself (apple) and get them to find more food. Get the kids to say the words. Continue with the other groups of cards.
Get the book from last year and draw some pictures on the board. Get the students to say the words. Get one student to the front and show him a picture. Get him to draw a pìcture for the class to guess. Continue with the rest of the kids.
If students can write, ask them to write the words in their notebook too.
3. Categories. 9 year olds and above
Similar to Activity 1 but without flashcards. Choose the groups of words from last year you want to revise. Draw a table on the board with these categories. Get the students to complete one column at a time. Check that they included all the words they learnt last year. Continue with a new column. Eg,
Students can get 1 point for each word. 2 points if it’s spelt correctly.
In pairs they can ask each other How do you spell (storm)?
4. Definitions. Teens and adults
Choose words you want to revise. Give the students definitions from a dictionary. They guess the word.
I find this online dictionary useful as the definitions are simple.
Students in pairs choose 2 or 3 words they learnt last year and they write a definition. They read them out loud for the class to guess the words.
5. Wordsearch. Older kids, teenagers and adults.
Choose a set of words you want to revise. Make a wordsearch. This is a possible website. Get the students in pairs and give each pair a copy.
I wouldn’t give them the words they have to find, just the square with all the letters, and I would give them clues. One of the words is… the first day of the week.
4 activities to revise grammar
Write the sentences. Older kids, teenagers and low level adults.
Get model sentences the students studied last year. Get one or two from each unit. Copy them and mix them up so that the words are not in the right order. Give them chunks rather than single words depending on the level.
Example for kids
have got / I / two fish
at half past seven / gets up / my dad / every day
ice cream? / favourite / what’s your
After each sentence, get the students to make more sentences using the same structure. Eg,
I have got two fish.
I've got one sister and one brother.
My brother has got many friends.
2. What’s the mistake? Teenagers and adults
Go through the book your students had last year and choose 1 model sentence from the grammar section in each unit. Change these sentences so that there is a mistake in each.
Get the students in pairs. Give each pair a set of sentences or project them on the board. Get the students to identify the mistakes orally first. Then get them to copy the correct version in their notebook.
Get each pair of students to write one or two sentences with a mistake in them. They read them out loud. The other students find the mistake, correct them and copy them down.
3. Can you remember? Teens and adults
Go through the book the students had last year. Write a list of grammar structures they studied on the board. Get them to discuss these structures in pairs and to write one good example for each. Once they all have examples get some of the students to read their examples out loud or to write them on the board. Get the clas to make any corrections if necessary.
4. Visualise it. All ages and levels
Choose some photos or pictures. Show them to the students one at a time, better if you can project them on the board. Give them a grammar structure and ask them to make some sentences about the picture using this structure. Get the students to work in pairs. If they make mistakes ask them to try again or get the class to help them.
Present simple: I use my phone everyday.
Past simple: My friend phoned me yesterday to invite me to a party.
Third conditional: If she'd phoned me I would've known she'd be late.