A Day Out!

Alison Chan

Quick Guide   

  • Keywords: Game, description, adjectives, vocabulary, communication
  • Learner English level: Intermediate and above
  • Learner maturity: Junior high school and above
  • Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
  • Activity time: 15-30 minutes 
  • Materials: Post-it pads, pens, paper signs, realia

A few years ago, I realised whilst approaching the end of term that students were becoming increasingly lethargic and detached. I noticed it was difficult to reel in the students’ attention while they were seated. To encourage and motivate students, I used the following game which allows students to walk around the classroom whilst reviewing vocabulary and refining their communication skills.


Step 1: Set up the classroom by using the corners in the classroom as four different shops: 1) a convenience store, 2) a bakery, 3) a supermarket, and 4) a drugstore. Make this clear by either placing a paper sign or bringing in some real objects. 

Step 2: For each shop, prepare post-it pads of different colours, or prepare coloured item cards which will allow for a more controlled activity. 

Step 3: Remind students that only English is allowed. 


Step 1: Divide the students into pairs. Select four pairs and place one pair behind a different shop. They will take the role of ‘shop owner’. Allocate the role of ‘shopper’ to the remaining pairs of students.

Step 2: Explain the idea and rules of the game: The students with the role of ‘shopper’ are going on a shopping trip around the classroom. The shoppers will need to describe an item they would like to buy without mentioning the name of the item or any word that is part of the final item. Guide students by providing them with sentence starters such as these: The item I would like to buy is colourful/black/white… It is a perishable item… The item I would like to buy has a round/rectangular/square shape… I have a headache and am looking for something that will help me…

Instruct the students with the role of ‘shop owner’ to listen carefully and guess the item the shopper is describing. Ask them to write down their guess using the post-it pad and show it to the shopper. If the shopper confirms it is correct, tear off the piece of paper and hand this over to the shopper. Use prepared item cards as an alternative, while controlling the difficulty level.

Step 3: Monitor and guide the students and the flow of the activity. Instruct the pairs of shoppers to move in a clockwise direction. Give students sufficient time to describe the item, but do not let them linger for too long at one shop with no result. Shout ‘Move to the next shop!’ so that all shoppers move together. 

Step 4: The shop owners who have “sold” the most items win the game.

Step 5: Debrief at the end of the activity to ensure students take away new vocabulary and sentence structures. 


This activity creates a fun and dynamic atmosphere. By having students stand up and move around the classroom, it keeps them awake and interested and this enables them to absorb and remember information more easily. 

This activity of describing and guessing different goods has brought a lot of excitement to my classes. It is an interactive activity that can serve as encouragement for less talkative students to participate and an excellent icebreaker at the start of term. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary, particularly adjectives, which will expand the lexicon of students.