Using recipe production to teach group creativity

Matthew Michaud, Kyoto Seika University

Quick guide

  • Keywords: Creativity, recipes, food project ideas
  • Learner English level: Beginners and up
  • Learner Maturity: University
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Activity time: 180 minutes 
  • Materials: Handout, blank pieces of paper, whiteboard and whiteboard pens.

Many ESL students at the university level are used to studying textbook units for a class or two. Delving into a food unit more deeply is very productive and can offer students more creative activities. Instead of moving on swiftly to the next unit in the textbook, students follow up the unit on food with an exciting project. This project is the creation of a recipe through a group presentation. This kind of group work requires the use of creativity and imagination. The final product shows the teacher and class how students can come together to create wonderful culinary dishes through the use of the board, some artistry, and teamwork. 



Have students focus on a food unit in a textbook. Focus on vocabulary and verbs associated with cooking. Highlight how recipes are used when creating dishes.



Step 1: Show the class a video clip of someone making a dish on YouTube or a similar service. 

Step 2: Choose a recipe and demonstrate the preparation and cooking process on the board using defined steps and simple vocabulary. This can be done through the use of improvisation using lots of body language.  

Step 3: Get students into groups. Tell them they can create an original recipe; choosing a favorite from memory or from the internet via their cell phone, tablet, or PC. 

Step 4: Have students brainstorm on blank paper and come up with ideas. If students are having problems with this, create a mind-map on the board to help them come up with ideas. 

Step 5: Give each group blank recipe templates, either one per group or one per student. The handout should help guide the students in creating their recipe coherently. A handout would include the recipe title, ingredients and steps. There can be room for sketches of each step to go along with their written detailing of subsequent steps. If this is the first time doing this in the class, keeping their recipes short and written in fewer than five steps is ideal. 

Step 6: Check group progress. Check grammar and spelling on the handouts. Encourage students to work together and efficiently. 

Step 7: At this point, the 90 minute lesson should be coming close to an end. Assign the handouts as homework and inform students that they must hand in the good copy of their recipe to the teacher. 

Step 8: At the start of the second class, the teacher should go over the recipes of each group. This can be done quickly. The point of the activity is group participation, creative recipe creation, and the end product which is the presentation.

Step 9: Group by group, students stand in front of the class. They transfer their recipe from the paper to the board. This takes teamwork. For example if there is a group with three students, one student could be the artist, one could coach, and one could be directing the information from the handout to the artist. 

Step 10: After each group is finished the class should discuss their opinions about each presentation. 



This is a fun and creative activity for students. It enables a lot of group work and team coordination. The idea of such an activity is that students be creative, team players and that they learn to think on the fly while using English. Students will take away a further understanding of how to create recipes in a fun and fluid atmosphere. The point of the presentation is to let students work together; the teacher must give them space and time and not constantly talk or interrupt them. The final presentation should be a process whereby the students complete something on their own. 



The appendix is available below.