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Going on a Picnic

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Similar to "Fun Way to Learn names"

I learned this from a blind friend when driving her around to start support groups for blind people (or those who were going blind or recently blind due to age or disease). Very interesting as we can rely on visual ques to help us, but the blind only have vocal quality differences to identify other people with! I have used this "introduction" activity in English classes on the first day or when a new student joins the class.

The teacher introduces the game with the phrase, "Hello. My name's Dan and we're going on a picnic! I'm going to bring doughnuts!"

First letter of your name matches the first letter of the item you are bringing on the picnic.

The first student is coached to say, "Hello. My name is (K-----) and we're going on a picnic! Dan is bringing doughnuts and I'm going to bring (k------)!"

The next student says, "Hello. My name is (Y-----) and we're going on a picnic! Dan is bringing doughnuts and K--- is bringing k--- and I'm going to bring (Y------)!"

This continues around the room, names and items added, with the teacher repeating the whole list at the end, generally to an ovation as the students are happy you can remember their personal names and they are amazed that you can remember the whole class.


1. I am not that strict about exact spelling. Due to phonetic or written differences between languages, one of my students here in Japan said, "My name is Shinya and I'm going to bring Champagne!" I must have had an odd look on my face as he then quickly asked, "How do you spell 'Champagne'?" I gave lots of encouragement and just mentioned that he was exactly right, his name and "Champagne" both started with the "Sh" blend-sound, and then wrote his name in "Romaji" (Romanization) and the word "Champagne" on the board. I then mentioned that he was right on with his thinking and the sounds, even though the technical spelling was different. I gave him encouragement for his quick and creative thinking and then I started the whole class in a round of applause for him as "champagne" was great for him to bring!

2. A picnic makes it seem an adventure and mentally transports everyone out of the classroom and into a more fun, relaxed, familiar experience setting. Also, as everyone is going together on a picnic, it seems to make it a more congenial, fun, group activity (mentally in the imagination).

3. All items do not have to be food (I don't mention that, I just give approval if they tentatively mention something other than food and are hesitant). It sometimes gets creative when many students have the same first letter to their names!

4. I work with small private classes of up to 10 students or so, so the list of names and items getting longer is not that tough. It may be a major challenge in a school classroom of 30 or more. It should work well in an smaller English Club activity after school, though.

5. Students generally like food and know food vocab. so this works well and is not potentially embarrassing as it does not put anyone on the spot in a personal way. However, it does create a word association to each person's name, and I've heard students in larger classes (15 or more students) say to each other later, "You are the 'apple' man! I can't remember your name, though. Is it 'Andy'?" It helps students remember each other's names (or narrow it down by first letter) through word association.

1. Use it for sentence pattern drill practice "We're going...." "I'm going to..." (also good practice of "He" vs. "She" which are sometimes mixed up and used incorrectly by some Asian Learners). The structures or patterns can be changed and adapted to keep it fresh or to drill new patterns.

2. Change the situation or scene from "Going on a picnic" to "Going camping" or "We're going shopping and I'm going to buy....". Another one would be "My name's .... and I like ....(or don't like....)" with each item mentioned starting with the first letter of one's name (could be sports, colors, foods). "My favorite" (or "least favorite...") could be used and sports or colors or vegetables, fruits or drinks could be used with younger or limited language ability or limited vocab classes.

For JHS or SHS boys (young men), a little survival adventure is fun. "We are going into the desert (or mountains, or out to sea) and I think we should bring....". Or "We have crashed in the desert (etc.) and are stranded. We need to find....."

In higher level classes, you could require a brief reason for their choices. They'd have to get creative with reasons for the odd items that matched the first letter of their names!

Dan Ross
[email protected]
Kesennuma, Miyagi

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