Recipe for Happiness

Wei-Ni (Michelle) Chen, Tokai University, Kogakuin University

This is a group speaking activity that involves drawing and writing. The goal is to create and explain a recipe for a dish called “Happiness”, with the ingredients being words associated with happiness. The target languages are sequence words, cooking terms, and the imperative form.

Quick Guide

  • Keywords: Process, recipe, cooking, sequence
  • Learner English Level: Pre-intermediate to upper-intermediate
  • Learner Maturity: Junior high school and above
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes
  • Activity Time: 60 minutes
  • Materials: Black board, blank A3-sized paper

One of the more common activities in a process lesson is describing how to make a simple dish like cup noodle or a sandwich. “Recipe for Happiness” is a fun activity that can be done as a consolidation lesson after students have learnt and practiced sequence words and cooking terms. This activity encourages students to use their creativity and come up with a dish that defines what happiness means to them.


Step 1: Draw a dish that demonstrates your idea of “Happiness” on a sheet of A3 paper. Write the ingredients and the recipe as a numbered list in the imperative form on the poster.

Step 2: This is an activity for groups of three or four. Prepare enough sheets of blank A3 paper.


Step 1: Write “ingredients for happiness” on the board, and ask students what makes them happy. Write down their ideas in the noun form. Try to elicit words such as friendship, family, love, good job, humour, etc.

Step 2: Put students in groups of three or four and hand out a sheet of blank paper to each group.

Step 3: Tell students to choose one person to be responsible for writing and drawing. Japanese students tend to shy away when someone needs to take up leadership, so instructing them to do this before explaining the main activity helps to speed up the process.

Step 4: Tell the designated drawer/writer to write down “Recipe for Happiness” on the top of the paper.

Step 5: Explain to the class that they are going to create a dish called “Happiness”. It could be a cake, a salad, a pizza, or anything they want. Tell the students to draw the dish and write down the ingredients and the recipe on the poster as a numbered list in the imperative form. Demonstrate by showing the students your poster and telling them how to make your happiness dish.

Step 6: Give students about 30 minutes to create their dish. Monitor and praise their ideas. Assist groups that are struggling for ideas. Remind the students that the drawing could just be a simple sketch so they don’t focus on drawing the picture, but on writing the recipe instead.

Step 7: Once every group has finished, ask each group to share their posters and describe the recipe to the class. The members of the group should take turns explaining the steps of the recipe.


This activity can be adapted to any age group and level, as their knowledge of cooking terms may range from basic words such as cut or mix, to higher-level words such as dice or sprinkle. Different age groups also tend to have different ideas about things that make them happy; therefore, it is interesting to see how younger students’ dishes differ from those of more mature students.


The appendix is available below.