Lesson Plan Ideas

Hey everyone! I've written a few articles recently for TEIC (how to deal with bad behaviour and back pocket activities) so this one is kind of a follow up post! In the 'back pocket activities' post I listed some activities that required no preparation what so ever which are really convenient as back pocket activities to just whip out when you need them. However, this post is going to focus on building different activities into your lesson plans that don’t require too much preparation. Unfortunately, as a teacher in China, it is common to be without the materials you need for certain activities and sometimes you simply don’t have enough time to plan something extraordinary for every class. So this post aims to keep your lessons interesting without too much planning or materials involved.

Activities that only require paper

1. Make cards

This is a really easy activity to incorporate into a lesson. I usually ask the students to make cards around a holiday season (Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Valentines day…). It’s super easy to prepare! Just bring enough paper for each student and explain what you want them to draw and write. Simple! You can also bring colours to class if your school provides them. If not, students still enjoy making the cards anyway or sometimes students even bring their own colours!

You could also make post cards with students. This is a great activity to do if it’s not holiday season or you are doing a lesson on travel.

2. Make comic strips

My Grade 3’s love making comic strips, sometimes it even takes two lessons! Again all you need is paper (and colours if you have them). You can ask them to think of a story associated with the topic you are studying and then ask them to draw it! Sometimes I ask students to present their comics to the class (this works well if your class has a projector).

3. Write and perform a drama/poem/song

There are so many things you can get your kids to write about. I normally split the class into groups and tell them they have two lessons to write a drama/song/poem. Tell them it has to be long (other wise they’ll write two sentences and be done) and the best one can have a prize! Kids love being creative and normally whatever they write is absolutely hilarious. Make sure you appoint a team leader to keep the group quiet and on task! Remember: poems can be difficult for young kids, I only do this with my Grade 5’s.

Activities with a little more preparation

1     1. A Video Quiz

Show students a video that you have found before class. You can split the class into teams and then quiz them about the video. If you don’t have time to create slides with questions on them you can just ask some questions on the spot to see what they’ve understood from the video. Give students points for correct answers! You could also pause the video and ask them “what do you see?”.

2. Tongue Twisters

Tongue twisters are a great way to start a class. All you have to do is find some on the internet and put them in your ppt! Super easy! Don’t forget to demonstrate to class how it should be read and also pick simpler ones for younger grades!

Find tongue twisters here: https://www.engvid.com/english-resource/50-tongue-twisters-improve-pronunciation/

3. Coloured Flashcards

This can be annoying to prepare at first, but once you have all of the flash cards made you can use them over and over! You’ll have to make 3 flash cards per student; one red, one green and one yellow. You can then use these flash cards in loads of different ways! For example, you could ask if they understand the topic whilst avoiding embarrassment or “losing face”. Just tell them to close their eyes and show the green if they understand, yellow if they half understand and red if they have no clue. Tell them to put their cards down before they open their eyes. Then you can see how they are coping with the material. You could also use it in a quiz format. For example, you can ask a question about a story or a video like “did Jason buy apples from the shop?”, then green means yes, red means no and yellow could mean sometimes.

4. PPT games

Kids love PPT games and the good news is that there are LOADS to choose from! The way I use these is by splitting the class in teams, counting down 3, 2, 1.. and then I choose the kid with the fastest hand in the air. If they give the correct answer then they get a point for their team.
There are two kinds of ppt games, customisable and non-customisable. The customisable ones are more useful for reviews or making them specific to a topic but the non-customisable (pre-prepared) ones are great for just throwing into a lesson without much prep (although you might have to search for the topic specifically). The best customisable ones are: battleships, jeopardy, connect 4 and who wants to be a millionaire.

Here’s some links for where you can download template ppt games:

Connect 4: http://www.rogerseslpowerpoints.com/powerpoint-games/connect-four
Battleships: http://bestteacherblog.com/battleship-powerpoint-template-classroom-game/
Jeopardy: https://www.thebalance.com/free-jeopardy-powerpoint-templates-1358186
Who wants to be a millionaire: https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/who-want-to-be-a-millionaire-3009846

5. Crosswords/Word searches

These are great for practicing spelling! You can find crossword and word search generators online really easily! Just enter all your key words and they’ll make one for you! Alternatively there are some pre-made ones but they aren’t always great. Print them off at school and hand them out. Simple as that! If you want to amp it up you can give a prize to the student who finishes first.

6. Say what you see

All you need to do for this is find some pictures on the internet and pop them in your PPT. You can find some that's in line with your topic or as a warmer you can find some really busy pictures like the one below and get them to describe them. Tell them to use adjectives and full sentences. For example, “I can see a man selling big hot dogs..”

7. Unscramble the word/sentence

This one can either be used to practice spelling or syntax. So on your PPT you could have one word all scrambled up and the students have to guess what the word is and spell it correctly. Or, you could have a scrambled sentence (but without scrambled spelling) and have them to order the words correctly. Again, I do this with team points!


1.        gwinmims = swimming
2.        cat/mat/the/the/on/sat = the cat sat on the mat

8. What's missing?

Finally, you could ask students to fill in the gaps! For younger ages you could have a few words on the board that they can pick from but for older grades don’t give them this choice and see how they do. This can be used with so many different topics. Sometimes I use this with pictures too, it can make things like prepositions of place easier for students to visualise.


1.     The capital of France is _____.
2.     The cat is ____ the mat.

These are just a few ideas you could incorporate into your lessons. There are plenty more scattered on the Internet, however, these are the ones I've tried and have turned out well in class. Keep in mind that every class is different, and whilst creating a drama with one class could be amazing, it could be absolute chaos with another! If you have any questions or you've tried some amazing activities that I haven't mentioned please get in touch! 

Lots of Love



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