'Make' and 'Do' - 5 Fun Activities

Do your best_84325501
‘Sorry, I didn’t make my homework’
Teacher: You didn’t what?
Student: ‘I didn’t make my homework last night’
Teacher: ‘You didn’t make your homework?’
Student: ‘No, I was busy making the housework and then I had to do arrangements for the party.’
Ok, so I might have exaggerated a little here (or have I?).  Do you find you are forever correcting your students’ use of ‘make’ and ‘do’?

But there are clear rules, aren’t there?

Make is used for the following (usually physical things)

constructing or creating:
make a poster, make a hat
preparing food/drinks:
make a coffee, make breakfast, make a cocktail

Do is used for the following:

To perform an action or activity:
Do the ironing, do the washing, do the shopping
To do most types of ‘work’:
Do housework, do homework, do a good job,

But then we have this LONG list of other expressions for ‘make’ and ‘do’ that can’t really be explained too well…… and are otherwise known as ‘exceptions’

Students: ‘Not MORE exceptions????…..’

Collocations such as make a mistake, make an effort, make a difference and make an excuse or do a favour, do harm and do your best, don’t fit so neatly into the rules above.

Unfortunately students simply have to learn many of the general expressions we use for ‘make’ and ‘do’.

When I was learning German in school I remember going home with my list of verbs and being told to learn the first 20 off by heart for a test the next day, which I did.  I had a great short term memory in those days, but I can’t be sure how much of them I could still remember a week later.

Thankfully, times have changed!

Why not choose a different one of these activities every week, recycling the same expressions….while having fun at the same time (the students will have fun too)

 Make and Do – 5 Fun Activities


making a decision_124672096
This is a fun one for outside the classroom.  Assign each student a partner for this task and give each pair an expression with ‘make’ or ‘do’ on a card, such as ‘to make a decision’ or ‘to do someone a favour’.

Each pair must keep their expression a secret.  Now, explain to students that after class/school, they must take a picture of themselves doing the action which is on their card.  So for example, one pair might pose for a photo ‘doing the ironing’ and another group might pose ‘making a difficult decision’.


Each pair must email the teacher with their photo afterwards and the teacher then prepares them to project for the class the next day.

In class, students work with their partners to figure out what each pair are doing in the picture, using either a make/do expression. You can award points to teams for each one they get right to add some competitive fun to the mix.



Split your class into groups of 4 students. Within each group, form two teams (2 x 2). The teacher gives each group their verb, either ‘MAKE’ or ‘DO’. Team A briefly discuss how many expressions with ‘MAKE’ they can list (give students 10 seconds for this) and then tell the other group.  E.g. We can list 5’


 Team B now must decide whether to:

1) ask Team A to ‘LIST THEM’.

If Team B decide to ask Team A to ‘LIST THEM’, Team A must now list their 5 expressions without making any mistakes.  If they make a mistake, Team B win the points.

2) Attempt to list more than 5
If Team B decide to attempt to list more than 5 by saying ‘We can list 6’ (or more), Team A now must decide whether they should let them ‘list them’ or if they want to push themselves to list 7, challenging them back with ‘We can list 7.

This can go back and forth until one of the teams decide to challenge the other team, saying ‘List them’, keeping in mind that the first team to attempt a list and make a mistake, loses the points to the other team.

After round one, teacher changes the topic to expressions with ‘Do’

(This is based on the UK’s National Lottery gameshow, ‘Who Dares Wins’)



You will need to bring 2-3 voice recorders to class for this, depending on the number of students you have.

In groups, ask students to write a list of 3 expressions with ‘make’ and another 3 with ‘do’.  Once you have monitored/checked the expressions, groups now put the expressions into sentences such as ‘Yesterday I had to make a huge effort to go to the gym because I was exhausted.’  Once you are happy with students sentences, give each group a recorder each and ask them to record their sentences BUT they must change ‘make’ to ‘do’ or vice versa in 3 of the sentences, creating an incorrect sentence.


Now swap the recorders around the class.  In the same groups, students now listen to another group’s recordings and 1) have to transcribe the sentences and 2) have to find the 3 sentences with the errors and correct them.

You could also get students to focus on word/sentence stress and intonation as an extension task to this.



This is a commonly used activity that can be adapted for most target language points – students LOVE it and it gets them up and moving about the room.

Divide the class into two teams, A and B.  Divide the board into two sides, drawing a vertical line down the middle and another one horizontally half-way down so your board is now divided into four equal sections.  Write ‘Team A’ on the left and ‘Team B’ on the right.  Also write ‘make’ in to the two top half sections and ‘Do’ in the two bottom half sections.

Ask the whole class to stand up in two straight lines.  Both should stand facing their side of the board.  Hand a marker to each student at the front of the line.  Now explain to students that you are going to read out part of ‘make’ or ‘do’ expressions, such as ‘the homework’, ‘a mistake’ and each student with a marker has to decide whether it takes ‘make’ or ‘do’ and then writes the full expression ‘makes a mistake’ in the correct section of the board.  (They also need to write neatly and get the spelling correct).  Once they are happy with what they have written, they should hand the marker to the next person on their team.  Students should do this as fast as they can as the teacher will continue reading the expressions and won’t wait ….
The team at the end with the most correct expressions (and spellings) are the winners.


Students are given one large A4 poster with ‘make’ on it and another of the same size with ‘do’ on it.  Use different colours for ‘make’ and ‘do’ posters if possible.  (It’s a lot of coloured paper but these can be reused again and again in class.)

The teacher reads out a sentence such as ‘He finds it difficult to ________ decisions’, replacing ‘make’ with ‘blank’.  Students have to quickly decide what the missing word is and holds up the missing verb.

The students who get it right continue with the game and the students who get it wrong are out.  The teacher continues reading out sentences as students hold up one of their posters.  At the end, you will have one student standing.

This student could be the ‘reader’ for the following game.  Give your list of sentences to the winning students and get them to be the quizmaster.

You could also do this in groups where students have to collaborate and discuss the answer with each other before holding up a verb.

What other make and do activities do you use in class?

Guinness_187435517Don’t forget to check out our latest lesson with teachers notes on GUINNESS 




3 Responses

  1. Jane Marshall

    This turned out fun:
    The class was put into teams. Each team was given a stack of post-its. The teacher dictated, ‘my homework; a crossword; a mess; the dishes’, etc and team members took turns writing down the phrases so each team had a pile of post its, each one with a word or phrase that goes with either make or do. Actually we had take, as well. Then each team had 2 bits of A3 paper to put on the wall – one with MAKE on it and the other with DO. Then, on the count of three, they put the relevant post its on the right bit of A3. When they thought they were finished, the teacher just told them how many were wrong. When they were actually done, they went round the other teams and told them how many were wrong. When they were all done, we had another count of three to come up with example sentences for all the phrases.

  2. Jane Marshall

    And there was an A3 paper with TAKE as well!

  3. Great ideas – phones will work as recorders too.

    For the last game, will cards work as well as posters? Just for ease of preparation.

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