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The "Packing List" Game

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ESL ACTIVITY:
The Packing List Game
Mark Warford
Knoxville, Tennessee

Background:
The following activity fits in perfectly with a travel unit. It allows
students to begin mapping their own associations of vocabulary and grammar
related to planning a trip. It's based on a common game practiced by
American children, but it can be tailored to any age group.

Target level: Beginning
Target modalities: Speaking, listening
Instructional Objectives:
1. Review, synthesize vocabulary associated with tourism
2. Apply knowledge of the first and second person singular, as well as
the first person plural forms of the verb to go and going + infinitive
to describe future plans.

Materials: Flashcards describing 'things' and/or realia, chalkboard or
dry erase board.

Directions:
Teacher begins activity with the following written on the board:
"I'm going to New York City, and I'm going to bring..."
After repeating the statement on the board to the class, the teacher
pauses, then writes in an object from a pre-selected category that is
unknown to the students. "Things people wear" is a good place to start.
The teacher might complete the sentence with "sunglasses" writing the
word on the board as he/she produces the object or flashcard representation
of the object.

Next, the teacher asks the class for input regarding what to bring:
"What else do we need to bring on this trip? Anybody...?"
Students take turns indicating what they would bring on the trip.
Flashcards or actual items might be provided to help them narrow down
the possibilities.

If a student says they will bring an object that fits with the selected
category, the teacher adds it to the emerging list on the board. If the
object does not fit, the teachers says: "No, we're not going to pack that."
or "I'm sorry, we don't need _____ for this trip."

As the students get warmer, the teacher may ask: "What kinds of things
are we going to bring on this trip?" The student who gets the category
gets to lead the next round. The teacher might hand that student a list
of suggestions for categories if they can't think of one of their own.

The activity gets more and more engaging as students think of all kinds
of clever ways of categorizing things to bring on the trip, for example:
objects that begin with the letter "l" or things that come in pairs or
groups, like shoes or grapes, etc.

As the class gains practice with the activity, the range of categories
and vocabulary can expand to encompass the full range of what they have
learned in English, thus strengthening the vast networks of linguistic
associations that are being constructed in their minds.

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