Supporting every teacher: English activities around the home

Lindsay Clandfield

Learning from home doesn’t just have to be in a digital format, some might not even have the equipment available, or are potentially sharing it between numerous family members. This blog post by Lindsay Clandfield looks at six cheap, screen-free activities to practice English when you’re stuck at home.

Lindsay is an English teacher, teacher trainer, conference speaker and writer of materials for learners and teachers of English. His Cambridge materials include Evolve and Interaction Online: Creative activities for blended learning.

For this blog post you’ll probably need to translate the following tips and make them available to your learners’ parents as these are activities that require the whole family to get involved. The language used should be simple enough though for parents who don’t speak English to engage with; in fact it may turn into a whole-family-learning activity! They are simple activities to set up and they don’t require you to be sitting in front of the screen to do them (the learners are probably getting more than enough screen time already).

1. Label a room

Materials needed: post-it notes
For this activity you need a bunch of post-it notes (although just paper will do). Choose a room in the home and label 20 things in it. Simply write the word of the object and place it on it. When you’re done, go through and say all the words together. Then leave them there. The next day, one of you moves the labels around so they are on the wrong things. Ask the other person to come in and put them back in the correct place. Swap roles the next day. Then remove all the post-it notes and move on to a different room another day.

2. Learn a song

Materials needed: songs that you like
Choose a song that you like and try learn the lyrics. Do this the way people used to figure out lyrics before the internet: by listening again and again and writing them down. Set yourself the challenge and don’t cheat! Once you think you know the words, play the song and sing along with it. Then sit with a family member. They play the song and pause at certain moments. The other person has to recite the next parts of the lyrics.

3. Make a dance or exercise routine

Materials needed: music, floor space
Find a song that you like, and create a dance or exercise routine to go with it. Create the moves together, and then write them down on a piece of paper. Here are the kinds of verbs you can use: raise, move, shake, turn, put up, clap, stretch, bend, touch. Combine these with body parts: arms, legs, hands, fingers, shoulders etc. Here’s an example, which I’m sure many young teens could improve on vastly!

Raise your arms.
Touch your shoulders.
Touch your head.
Shake your head.
Shake your hands.
Bend your knees.
Touch the floor.
Do it again.

Then play the song and recite the sentences as you do it. Teach someone else in your family how to do it!

4. Invent a dish and write the recipe, or make a family recipe book

Materials needed: food, kitchen, index cards (optional)
Take a look at what you have in the fridge, and invent a dish together. Write it out on a piece of paper as you make it, saying the steps out loud. You don’t need to use that much complex vocabulary (you could get by with the verbs take, put, mix and cook in many cases).
As you do more dishes, you could collect the recipes and put them each on index cards. Put these together into a little recipe book, in English.

5. Hold a tea party

Materials needed: nice things to eat and drink, music
With younger learners especially, organise a tea party inside the home (I’m not suggesting here a party in the sense of inviting other people over, just in the family). Prepare some small nice things to eat and drink. Make a house rule that during the ‘tea party’ people have to try and speak in English – even if it’s only simple phrases like ‘Pass me the biscuits please’ or ‘Thank you’. Play some of your favourite English songs (see 2 above).

6. Make a to do poster for after the quarantine

Materials needed: poster paper, colouring pens or pencils
Work together to create a poster project of the top 5 (or 10, or 20) things you are going to do when the quarantine finishes. Get the whole family to suggest things they are going to do too. Write these in English, and make pictures to go with them. For example:

We’re going to go to the park
I’m going to play football
We’re going to have a picnic

Aside from being a good way of keeping hopeful and your spirits up, this also provides some nice controlled practice of ‘be going to’ for future!


If you would like to read more blog articles and find more home learning activities from the Supporting Every Teacher series, click here

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