Monthly Archives: December 2009

Add a little colour to class with Grafitti Creator

grafitti creator

Click here for the website.

Here’s a brief description of ten uses of an online grafitti creator for your English Language Learners.  They require very little preparation and I’ve included some tips on how to use them.  All these games were chosen because they are free, easily accessible, engaging and fun for English Language Learners.

1) Project titles – Make any project work stand out a little more by using the grafitti creator to write the titles.  Great when the topic is music, stars fashion, youth culture, videogames or even grafitti.

2) Folder decoration – Young learners love to personalize their folders by decorating them with doodles, tags and pics of their favourite singers and stars.  Why not a little grafitti?  The (English) words their oyster.

3) Fave words – Why not poll your learners on what their favourite words are in the English language?  Then write them out as grafitti and print them off and decorate a corner of the classroom?  Their favourite word can be based on meaning, sound, association or simply the look of it.

4) Posters – Poster work displayed on the classroom wall can be made a little more eye-catching with the prudent use of a little grafitti.  Names of the authors, titles or just simple decoration.

5) Song Lyrics – Get learners to research the song lyrics to some of their favourite songs and bands.  They may be surprised when they focus on the meaning of the lyrics.  Ask them to choose a line they like and turn it into grafitti.  They may need to screencapture short segments and string them together as the grafitti creator has a limited amount of space.

6) Quotes – Famous quotes or quotes that hold a special meaning for your learners.  A line from a book, a proverb, a well known expression or saying or even a line from a poem or a song.  All great candidates for grafitti.

7) Personal Expression – Why not let your learners get a bit creative and write what they like?  Brainstorm a few ideas in the classroom and then let them play away.  Oh yeah!  It has to be in English.

8) Name tags – I’m terrible with names at the beginning of a course so I get my learners to write their names using grafitti generator.  True they are a bit more difficult to read but I have an excuse to pick them up and take a long look at them – I”I like the colours here”, “What’s this letter?”, “This looks cool!” etc

9) Vocabulary bag – Get learners to make their own vocabulary bags by making grafitti word tags at home and adding them to a vocab bag in class.  Great for a word activity when they have tidied up at the end of class.

10) Flashcards – create grafitti word flashcards for pelmanism, labelling, pictionary cards or any other use you can think of!

Well that’s all from us for this year.  We´ll be back in the new year.  All it leaves for me to say is:

merry christmas

Christmas Quiz Fun

Here’s a great Christmas quiz to let your learners play and see how much they know about Christmas. It’s timed, so you can see how long it takes them to get the answers right.

You can find it here:

The site has many other timed quizzes. Here are some more Christmas-themed ones:

You can also get your students to register and create their own quizzes – a fun way to end the year.

I'm Dreaming of a conditional Christmas

Level: Intermediate

Topic: Christmas vocabulary

Language Focus: First Conditional

Time: 30 minutes

Game: Christmas Escape

The Game

Explore the house and find the fourteen hidden presents to get a key which will let you escape through the front door.  The object for your language learners is to use 1st conditional sentences to walk you through the game and finish it.

Christmas Escape


Play the game yourself from the start to the finish in order to familiarise yourself with the game.  Print off a copy of the vocabulary walkthrough for each pair of learners and a copy of the conditional walkthrough for yourself.


This game is for the connected classroom.  Make sure that your learners understand the meaning of the words in the vocabulary list.


Explain to your learners that they are going to play a game.  You will show them the game at the front of the class and that they will have to dictate to you how you should play the game.  They have to tell you where to look in order to find 14 presents and then escape through the front door.  Each time they tell you they have to use a 1st conditional.  If the conditional is grammatically correct you will then do that action.  Use the conditional walkthrough as a guide to possible sentences your learners may produce.  If learners are finding it a little difficult you can wave your mouse over key areas in the game as a clue or verbally guide your learners towards the correct answer.


location    “If it’s not behind the bin and it’s not in the bin, where else can it be?”

Post Playing

Learners can write the walkthrough out for the game using 1st conditional sentences.

Christmas ecard picture dictation

Level: Primary

Topic: Picture dictation

Listening focus: Describing a Christmas Ecard (prepositions of place)

Time: 30 minutes

Preparation: A copy of  the Ecard Wordsearch for each learner.  A single copy of the Ecard Picture Dictation or a screenshot of a finished ecard.

Game: xmas ecard maker

ecard makerScreenshot of the finished picture dictation

Key Language: Snowman, path, buttons, hat, snow, roof, window, mask, presents, star, light, transparent, robin, chimney, stocking.


Use the word search in the classroom to raise awareness of the language items that will appear in the picture dictation computer room activity.  Fast finishers can start to decorate the edges of the word search with pictures of the vocabulary items.


If you have ever done a picture dictation then you’ll know how to do this activity.  Use either the image above or download the dictation.

Image If you are using the image above describe the picture for your learners to reproduce.  As you monitor their screens ‘tweek’ any individual or class differences by providing greater detail.  When the class has finished show them the image above and ask learners to look at the pictures the rest of the class has produced  and find any differences.  Award points to those that find differences.

Dictation As an alternative to dictating from looking at the image above you can print off a copy of the picture dictation text.  You may find that sticking to the text means that learners produce ecards that are loyal to the dictation but that differ from the target image.  This may be an advantage in that more language can be produced talking about the differences between the ecards.


Learners can make their own Christmas Ecards and send them to friends and/ family.  They could also write a short text describing their Christmas Ecard using the Ecard Picture Dictation text as a model.

Brain Cell – Interactive Story for Upper-Intermediate EFL/ESL learners

Brain Cell ( is a short but engaging puzzle of a game with 3D graphics and sound. It’s a room escape game with a science-fiction atmosphere and has been made by DESQ, an organization devoted to the development of Web-based and digital learning projects. You can read more about Brain Cell here.

It works well as an interactive reader, and can be given to learners either for homework, or as an activity for them to do in the computer room. If you give this to the learners for homework, then copy and print out the whole story below.

If you use this with learners in the computer room, then  copy the sections entitled ‘Story’ below and print them out on different pieces of paper. Give the first one to the learners to set the scene.

I suggest writing the titles of each part of the story/game on the board and tell the learners to ask for the parts they need (i.e. when they get to that part) As they complete the puzzles, you can give them the next parts of the reading text, until they finish the game.

It should take about 20-30 minutes for them to do. Back in the classroom, you can focus on the language used in the actual story – there’s a lot of vocabulary and grammar there that is worth examining.

As a follow-up, you can ask them to write the background of the story (what happened before they arrived at the ship) and the next part (what happened after the game) .



Ugh! Where am I? how did I get here? It looks like the cargo bay of a spaceship. Now I remember – we answered a distress call from a trading ship called the ‘Avalon Star’, but nobody answered when we tried to make contact with the crew.

I remember me and my partner entering the spaceship. We had to cut our way in through the emergency air-lock. It was so strange inside – no sign of anyone. Where were the people? We started moving down the empty corridors of the ship, heading for the bridge. Then my partner, who was behind me cried out. I turned around and it all went black.

And now it looks like I’m alone in this cargo bay. Looks like the door to the cargo hold is locked – access denied! Let’s explore and see if I can find my way out of here.

Cryo Tubes 1

What are those things over there? Cryogenic tubes? That’s where the crew members would sleep  if they were going into deep space. All but one are open, so the crew definitely awoke. Hmmm…one seems to be locked. And  there’s no power either – very strange!

Computer Navigation 1

The computer navigation system is broken – that explains why the ship is drifting, I suppose. If the ship’s navigation system had a malfunction on the way to wherever it was going, then that would explain why the crew were woken up. But where are they? I know there must be at least one of them on the ship – or I wouldn’t have been hit on the head. At least, I suppose it was a member of the crew that hit me…

Security Console 1

This could be the key to me getting out of this room – it obviously controls the security in this room, and maybe the whole ship. so, I need to find a disc in order to activate it. That might be the trick. but where should I look?

Engineering Bay

Aha! This looks promising. Let me see – there are a number of revolving rectangles, and a pulsing blue circle. What happens if I press the space bar now? It seems as if the rectangles turn blue if I press the right ones and they reset to transparent if I press a wrong one. The key then is to press the right ones in the right order- I can change which lever is selected by moving the left and right arrows. I think the power will come on again if I manage to solve this puzzle.

Cryo tubes 2

Now the power’s on – let me see if I can work out the code to open this cryo tube. It seems that this involves turning all of the 8 lights to be ‘on’. Hmmm…if I can get all the lights to go out I can switch all the lights to the on position by simply clicking the middle. Let me try this sequence to see if it works….1, 2,2,3,2,2,3,2,1…Nice…and what’s inside? A computer data disc? Now where can I use that?

Computer Navigation /Security Console 2

Well, this is working OK now. And it seems like that data disc I found fits here. Rock n’ roll! Now what’s this? It looks like another puzzle. I think I’ve seen this before. If I remember well, the object of  is to get the solid blinking square to the X square without touching any of the walls. The other squares are blockades which will keep you from touching the walls, and which will also help you get to the goal. The arrows tell me which way the square will move (so I’ll have to pay attention to the highlights).

The Door

Wow! That’s great…it looks like the door’s finally open . Now to find my partner and figure out what happened on this ship and who put me in here.

Walkthrough adapted from

Junior's Christmas – a fun Christmas activity for low levels

Level: Pre-intermediate

Topic: Christmas

Focus: Christmas vocabulary

Time: 30 – 45 minutes

Game: Junior’s Christmas

Junior wants to get a present from Father Christmas but there are a few things getting in his way.

Juniors Christmas

screenshot of Juniors Christmas

 Key Language: Carpet, cookie jar, key, hug, cupboard, knock, feather, wing, box, tail, elf, tickle, window,  bird house, hammer, ribbon, scissors, shelf, plate, bird seed, lever, nest,

Preparation: Connected classroom or computer room. One printed copy of Junior’s Christmas activity worksheet for each learner. One photocopy of Teacher’s notes with  walkthrough.


Hand out a copy of Junior’s Christmas activity worksheet to each learner.  Tell them to read exercise 1 and ask them if they understand all the words.  Show the game to the class and ask them to watch the opening sequence of the game and answer the questions in exercise 1.  The opening sequence is like a short video and shouldn’t be skipped.  As long as ‘skip’ at the bottom isn’t pressed you will see the kids stand in line and get seen by Father Christmas.  The sequence will stop when Junior reaches the front.  The game then Feedback and then do exercise 2.  Alternatively, before doing exercise 2 you could brainstorm vocabulary which can be seen in the game.


In the computer room, learners work in pairs playing the game.  Tell them they can start the game without watching the first part by clicking on the word ‘skip’ at the bottom of the game.  Learners use the sentences in exercise 3 to complete the game.  As they play they match the sentences on the left with the sentences on the right.


In the classroom feedback on the answers and discuss the answers to exercise 4 in open class.