It’s more than fun & games: An interactive classroom activity
April 28, 2015 | By: Caitlin Hirsch
Categories: Teacher Tuesday

If you liked our last classroom activity idea—Snapshot!—you’ll love today’s lesson plan. Find a Friend is interactive and engaging, but it’s not just about fun. Your ESL students will strengthen their comprehension. Find a Friend is easy to adapt for all classes and skill levels. How would you use it in your classroom?

Activity: Find a Friend

Grade: 1st grade +

Subject: All

Best for: Any topic/skill that can be categorized into matching pairs—for example, math problem and answer, word and definition/picture, quote and character, etc.

Why it works: Matching relies on both lower- and higher-order thinking skills, and is a great exercise for working memory. Matching is the recognition of an answer, which is an important scaffold before being able to independently produce a response. Partnering students reduces stress on learners who might not be confident participating in class.

What you do: Think of enough pairs so that each student will have one half of a match; write on small slips of paper. Give each student a slip. Students are given a minute or two to think about what the other half of their match might be. Students are then given a few minutes to walk around the room and find their “friend”—their match.

Example: Mr. White teaches Physics 101 at a community college. To reinforce the vocabulary they’ve learned, Mr. White uses the “Find a Friend” activity. He has 30 students in his class, so Mr. White comes up with 15 pairs. Here are five of the pairs:

repel [Picture of two magnets repelling]
All elements are made up of _______. atoms
This type of electricity is caused by uncontrolled electrons. static electricity
You can see this form of energy. light energy
A shovel is this type of simple machine. wedge

Each student gets a slip of paper. Mr. White instructs the students to silently predict what their match will look like. He then gives them a few minutes to walk around the room and find their partner. The students share out their pair with the rest of the class.

This can be repeated several times in a class depending on how many matches you have.

Other ESL activities to help prepare your students can be found on our site in the Teachers section. You may also want to check out our guide for Choosing and Using an English Placement Test: Where to Begin?

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