A future tense picnic

Jacqueline Foster, Vancouver Island University


Quick guide

  • Keywords: Future tense, sentence formation and completion
  • Learner English level: Advanced beginners
  • Learner maturity: High school or adult
  • Preparation time: Minimal
  • Activity time: 15to 20 minutes
  • Materials: Board and markers


This activity can be used to review or practice the future tense form (going to). What makes this activity interesting for the students is that there is a secret rule, which is chosen by the instructor or classmates. The students try to guess the rule by suggesting items for a picnic. The activity is appropriate for both large and small classes. It is best played in groups of four or five students to allow for maximum participation.


Step 1: Write the following sentence on the board: I’m going to go on a picnic and I’m going to bring ___________.

Step 2: Determine in advance what the secret rule will be for modeling the activity. For example, in order for the students to be allowed to go on the picnic, their answers must begin with the same first letter, such as “B.” Other examples of a secret rule could be that all of the answers must be sports items or clothing.

Step 3: Decide in advance how the class needs to be organized for modeling the activity. Students can organize their chairs in a circle or, if the class is quite large, ask for or choose a few volunteers to model the activity.


Step 1: Have the students sit in a circle.

Step 2: Explain the sentence on the board and review the vocabulary (picnic) and the grammar structure for future tense (used for a planned future activity).Practice pronunciation if necessary.

Step 3: Check that the students understand what a picnic is and elicit examples of where people might go for a picnic and what they might bring.

Step 4: Explain that this activity is about a picnic and about what people might bring on a picnic, but that there is a hidden rule. The students must listen to the items and try to guess what the rule is. If they guess the rule, they can continue to participate, but they must keep the rule a secret.

Step 5: Explain that each student will have a turn to complete the sentence on the board/overhead projector with an item that they would like to bring on the picnic. After each sentence, you, the teacher, will state whether or not they can bring their item on the picnic.

Step 6: Read the sentence with an answer that begins with “B.” The following is an example: “I’m going to go on a picnic and I’m going to bring a baseball.” Tell the students that you can go on the picnic because you are going to bring a baseball.

Step 7: The student next to the teacher on either the right or the left must make a sentence, generating one item that he or she would like to bring on the picnic.

Step 8: The teacher listens to the sentence and uses the rule to decide if the student can go or not. In the model above, a student bringing “bananas” can go, but a student bringing “apples” cannot.

Step 9: The teacher continues around the circle until most of the students have guessed the rule.

Step 10: At this point the teacher can elicit from the students who are participating and watching (if you have a large class) what the rule is.

Step 11: Once all of the students understand the game, divide the class into groups of about four or five students each. Then, choose a student in each group to start the activity, or each group can elect a student to start. The student who starts the activity must think of a new secret rule before they start. Each student should have at least one turn at creating a rule and each student must create a different secret rule.

Step 12: Circulate and monitor the groups.


This activity is one that requires very little preparation and generates interest by having students guess a secret rule. It is a simple high-interest activity for practicing the future tense.