EFL art activities are a fun way to supplement English learning with language-based tasks that engage the senses in a fun and interesting way. Though not all programs have built-in time for arts and crafts, these activities fit nicely into vacation classes, summer camps, and classes for very young learners.
Remember when you were a kid and you spent your school day making glittery Easter eggs and creating haute couture macaroni necklaces? The days when you got to get your hands covered in glue were undoubtedly the best.
Introducing art into the ESL classroom is not only fun and memorable, but it’s a wonderful way to help your students learn English. It creates an interesting and enthusiastic learning environment where students are free to express themselves in new ways.
Art-based activities teach students of all ages essential language skills that get them out of the typical classroom format and immersed into the language. While Shane Schools’ programs focus on the PPP method for most language classes, art activities make fun additions to regular kindergarten classes and vacation classes. It’s always good for a teacher to have a fun, educational activity in their back pocket.
We’ve picked our top 3 favourite activities for creatively combining art with English to make an unforgettable ESL lesson!
1. Draw a Story
Being able to describe what is happening is an essential part of learning a new language and vocabulary building. This art activity is perfect for students of all ages to practice using descriptive words and telling a story.
It involves getting your students to draw a comic book strip about an event that happened in the past or introducing people in their lives.
- 1 sheet of A4 paper for each student
- Coloured pencils, crayons, markers and drawing pencils
- Introduce the topic for the comic strip from your curriculum and present any new vocabulary they will need to know.
- Next, show your students how to set up their comic book strip scenes on their piece of paper. Show them a finished example that you created yourself or one that you have found on the internet.
- Explain that they will be drawing out a story that relates to your topic. For example: What they did on the weekend or where they would want to go on vacation.
- After you are confident they understand the task, let them loose to create their own comic book strip story.
- In the next class, ask your students to present their comic strip to the class and explain what is happening in each scene.
This activity is a great way for students to use their artistic talents and learn new vocabulary in an engaging way. It also gives you a great opportunity to assess their speaking skills and sentence construction abilities.
2. Paper Planes
This is a quick and fun activity that you can use in a variety of different ways. By getting students to build paper planes it’s a way for them to practice their listening skills as you give out instructions.
By taking it one step further, it can be used use to see how well they have retained information from previous lessons.
For example, you can use the activity as an excuse to assess their conversational skills.
- 1 sheet of A4 paper for each student
- Pens, coloured pencils, crayons and markers
- At the beginning of the class ask your students to write down any 5 questions that they can think of.
- After they have finished, show them how to create a paper plane step-by-step. If you don’t know how to create one yourself, watch this video over here.
- When all the students have made their planes, you can ask them to write their names on theirs and decorate it.
- Then set up targets around the classroom for your students to try hit with their planes. If they hit a target, ask them to open up their plane and choose a question to read aloud and answer.
Not only will your students have tons of fun creating the planes and trying to hit the targets, but it is also a fantastic way for you to assess their speaking, reading, and writing skills at the same time.
3. Colour by Instructions
It can often be difficult for ESL students to remember new vocabulary. This activity gives them a creative outlet to make connections with the new words the students are learning with visual stimulus.
It involves taking a pre-designed picture and colouring it in with a specific colour. It’s a perfect activity for young to adolescent students to learn new vocabulary around animals, towns, objects, school or even the supermarket.
Example, ask your students to colour in a certain object like a mountain in a specific colour like brown.
- 1 worksheet for each student
- Coloured pencils, markers, crayons, and drawing pencils
- Present any new vocabulary at the start of the lesson, before handing out the worksheets.
- Once you are confident that they understand, move on and hand out the worksheets for the lesson.
- Before asking them to colour anything in, go over the worksheet with the class to further reinforce the vocab.
- Next, tell them to colour an object on the worksheet in a specific colour.
This art activity is a fun way to introduce your students to new vocabulary and improve their listening skills which are essential for their growth. It also gives you an easy way to assess which words or phrases you need to go over with them in your next lesson.
Introducing art into your EFL classroom is one of the best ways to switch up the normal humdrum of your English classes. Your students will be having so much fun with these activities that they may learn speaking, listening, writing and reading skills without even noticing!
Do you use art in your classroom? What are some of your favourite creative ways to get students learning? Let us know on Twitter!
About the Author
Lauren Melnick is a South African travel blogger and ESL teacher currently living in Ubon, Thailand. When she isn’t making lesson plans and watching nursery rhymes on YouTube, you can find her eating up a storm, taking selfies with dinosaurs, and planning her next adventure.
With schools around the world, Shane English School always has exciting new opportunities to offer.