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Thinking time - a puzzle

Submitted by Sally Trowbridge on 23 July, 2013 - 10:42 This is a motivating speaking activity for lower levels to develop fluency. Students are given plenty of support and use thinking time before the speaking task. The lesson is usually successful with adults and teenagers because of the puzzle element. The only materials you need are a box of cocktail sticks. Activity type: Working out a cocktail stick puzzle /pair work Level: A1-B1 Age: Adults or senior YLs Preparation Take a box of cocktail sticks into the classroom. Arrange students around a central space with a table. Introduction 1. Use the cocktail sticks to make simple geometrical shapes and symbols. Point to each shape and ask Whats this? Elicit an answer orally each time. Suggested shapes: A square, a triangle, a rectangle, a cross, a star, a diamond, a hexagon, etc. Appoint a student to be your helper. Tell students that you are going to explain how to make a star shape with the cocktail sticks. Each time students hear a verb they should repeat it and the helper should write it on the board. Make a star shape with the cocktail sticks, giving simple instructions as you make each move. Use as many different verbs as possible. Use affirmative and negative examples. E.g. Take a cocktail stick, place it here, put it there, pick up this cocktail stick, add another cocktail stick, dont move the other cocktail sticks, join these two sides, take away these two sticks, etc. Procedure Part 1: Model the activity Tell students they are going to do a puzzle. Make this shape using 12 cocktail shapes.



Write the puzzle on the board: Remove two cocktail sticks so that there are only two squares left. Tell students to think carefully about how to solve the puzzle and to think carefully about the language they need to explain the solution. Elicit the answer orally. Students can point at cocktail sticks and give clear instructions to solve the puzzle. But they shouldnt do any of the actions themselves.


Part 2: Students work in pairs, trying to solve another puzzle together and then each pair of students works with another pair, to explain and check their ideas. Put students into pairs to work together. Give each pair of students a copy of handout A or handout B. Make sure that there are equal numbers of A pairs and B pairs. Have a group of 3 if necessary to make equal numbers of pairs Give Student A pairs a copy of Handout A. Give Student B pairs a copy of Handout B. Students follow the instructions on their handouts. First they try to solve their own puzzle, making suggestions in pairs and thinking (or making notes) about the language they need to use to explain the solution. Then Student A pairs get together with Student B pairs. Students A explain which moves need to be taken to solve their puzzle. Students B (who have the solution) listen and tell them whether they are correct. Then pairs change roles and Students B explain how their puzzle can be solved. Note: Leave the list of verbs on the board for students to refer to.