Fun with Idioms

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5 Engaging Activities Using Idioms


1. Drama Queen!

Create a list of ten idioms which students have recently met.  Cut them up and give one idiom to each pair of students in your class.  Ensure your students know the vocabulary; it’s not necessary at this stage for them to understand the meaning of the idiom.  They just need to be able to act it out!

In turn, each pair of students act out their idiom for the other students.  You can award points to pairs who guess the idiom correctly.  This is a great way to review idioms and so much fun.  Students tend to remember them more easily when they can relate it to a visual action.

Idioms which work well for this task: 

  1. to cry over spilt milk
  2. to put your foot in your mouth
  3. All in the same boat
  4. to let the cat out of the bag
  5. to speak of the devil
  6. to see eye to eye
  7. to cost an arm and a leg
  8. to feel under the weather
  9. to cut corners
  10. to judge a book by its cover

2. Work it Out!

Prepare enough idioms for half the students in your class (i.e for 16 students, prepare 8 idioms).  You will also need to prepare a definition for each of these idioms.   Give half the students in your class an idiom each and give the other half a detailed definition.  Now students have to mingle and find one other student who has the idiom/definition match.

You can use these ideas or prepare your own based on what you have covered in your class during the week

Best of Both Worlds  to enjoy two different experiences/things at the same time
Break a Leg  Good luck! 
Hit the Nail on the Head to describe exactly what is causing a problem or situation
Give Someone a Hand  to help someone
Keep an Eye on Someone to watch someone very closely


Once students find their new partners, give them an extra task.  Now they have to think of an idiom they have learned that is not here and do the same thing!  Create two pieces of paper, one with the idiom and one with a detailed definition and they get to play again!

3. On Cloud Nine!

Organise your students in small groups of 3 or 4.   Each group is given an idiom such as ‘On Cloud Nine’ and must now work together to put this idiom into an ‘asking for advice’ letter.  See example below.

Dear Agony Aunt, 
I need your help.  My 7 year old daughter is so happy at the moment.  Everything is going well for her in her personal life, in school, at home.  She’s on cloud nine.  Unfortunately I have some bad news to tell her – her dog died! How should I do it? 

Now, have students pass their letters to the next group to write a response using another idiom they have learned such as:

Dear Reader, 
It’s always very sad when a family pet dies.  Hopefully your daughter will see that your dog had a happy life but I can understand why you want to tiptoe around the situation as this is difficult for any child to understand. It will take time and she will need time to grieve so just be there to support her. 

This can be great fun and if you have students who have vivid imaginations, they will come up with very creative problems and advice.

4. Idioms in Pictures!

Put students into pairs and give each pair an idiom, i.e put your foot in your mouth’.  For homework, students have to take a photo of themselves ‘describing’ the idiom.  The next day, students bring the photo to class and the class have to guess what the students are trying to describe from the photo.

This activity is so much fun and students tend to remember the idioms much more when interlinked with an engaging kinesthetic activity such as this one.



5. Bend the Truth!

Each pair of students present one idiom to the class and their teacher on the board.  This is a great way to review idioms already met and ones which students are comfortable with.

For example, the first pair go to the board and write ‘to pull the wool over someone’s eyes.’ and give a very detailed definition of its meaning such as ‘to protect someone from danger’.  The students must also give the class this idiom in a sentence for context such as ‘There was a gang of boys outside the house so I called my friend and told her not to come to pull the wool over her eyes.’ [This is obviously not correct] but will the other students realize?

The aim of this task is for each pair to convince the other students that their definition is a real one.  If they succeed, they win the points but if a clever pair of students realize it’s not real and can give the real definition, that pair win the points.

This can be so much fun and very competitive!


4 Responses

  1. Srabani Ganguly

    It’s a great activity…

  2. Looks like a lot of fun

  3. Thanks Aoife.
    These activities look like lots of fun and cater to many different learning styles!

  4. Interested site

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