esl gamesHi everyone! I´m so sorry I wasn’t able to get together with you for Sunday Best last weekend but I was preparing something really special for you. In fact, it will be the focus of this week’s Sunday Best, if I can hold my tongue until then that is!

Today I want to share an incredible game and lesson plan with you which I created for my young students but that has actually been an incredibly big hit with adults as well.

In this game I call ‘Once Upon a Time’, students become storytellers, not of someone else’s stories but of their own. Students will be presented with three sets of story sticks, the green sticks represent the place where their story will take place, the blue will be their main character(s) and the red (my personal favorite) will be the central problem of the plot or a problem their main character must endure or overcome. Using games in the classroom

You can download my set of story sticks here and print them on card paper, or you can certainly edit the document or make your own. Making them on popsicle sticks by hand is even more fun, but if you’re pressed for time this is a faster option. Here are the steps to set up this activity in class:

1) As a warmer I like to ask students about some famous stories they might know or ask them to recap one we have worked in class. I use the one they choose to elicit who the main character is, where the story takes place and what the main problem or challenge is. That way, they’ve come up with examples themselves to serve as inspiration.

2) Ask each student to select one story stick of each color. In the first two or three rounds I always let them read through all the sticks and choose the one they like the best. In the next rounds I have them choose them at random (the funniest and craziest stories will come up at this point). Of course if you’re teaching a large class it might be best to do this at random from the beginning, students might take a long time choosing at the rest of the students might get restless.

3) Give students a few minutes to think about their story.

4) Students take turns telling their stories.

5) Awards ceremony: After a very creative lesson like this where students have worked really hard I always like to have a little awards ceremony. Click here to download my award envelopes. Inside I write what the prize is. In my case this usually includes earning one or two star stickers (I use a sticker system in my classes), being able to choose the extra activity or game next class, stickers, being able to choose and animated short to watch or the next song we will sing in class. These may vary depending on the type of class you have, so I’ve left the envelopes blank so that you can adapt them. If you find them to be too small, you can always select the figures and make them larger. Storytelling

My categories include:

– Creativity

– Best Character

– Best storytelling (pronunciation and fluency)

– Best grammar

– Best use of vocabulary

– Best behavior (and this includes their behavior while telling the story as well as their behavior while listening to their classmates stories).

I have to tell you, I have a big box of games and activities for my young students, but no other game has provided as much concentration, interest and good behavior as this one. Phrasal verb UNO comes in second in this department. It’s also great for you to check students’ progress and see what areas need a little more review or focus.storytelling game

I hope you enjoy it! Ask me any questions or leave me some comments in the section below. If you try this out and have some incredible stories (it’s amazing what their little minds can come up with), please share them in the comments as well!




It’s been a while since we’ve sat together near the red bookcase. In fact, since we moved the blog over to blackboard and brush it’s possible that you’ve never heard of my beloved red bookcase. For those of you that are new, the red bookcase is the place in the blog where I share what I’m reading and any book recommendations I might have for you. It’s also a place where you can recommend great reads through the comments! The original red bookcase belonged to my best friend and uncle Aly Sujo. It was an incredible wall to wall bookcase that had hundreds of books arranged by color. The bookcase was white with red interiors and was my favorite part of his house second only to the kitchen table where we would have breakfast and chat or sit quietly looking outside. When I moved to Spain and found a red bookcase of my own, I decided that red and read (remember how to pronounce this in the past students?) were a match made in heaven and gave that name to this blog series.

You know me…I’m hardly ever reading just one book. In fact, I almost lost my iphone last night after a book tower topple incident on my night stand (the iphone was the cherry on the falling cake so to speak). Right now I’m reading the superbly written Harper Lee classic To Kill a Mockingbird (thanks Rafa for the loan!) and Alexandre Dumas The Count of Montecristo (thanks Elena for the loan!). I’ve also just finished WM Paul Young’s book The Shack which will have a whole post on its own very soon. So far all three books are highly recommended. Right now I’m particularly mesmerized by Ms. Lee’s writing, what a witty, endearing and heartbreaking book. I hope I can take it all the way through to the end because I know it’s a tough one! What are you reading right now? Care to share it in the comments?

As a special final treat and with a special shout out to our reader Verena who found this little gem, here’s my new second favorite bookcase ever!


Dear CEPI class of Oct-Nov 2012! Today was our last class! Congratulations!

I was so happy to have you in my class. Thank you so much for your hard work these last few weeks, you did a great job! It was a real pleasure having a group as friendly and as dedicated as you were. I can’t wait to see some of you in January (remember to review for the entry test!) and to continue helping you improve your English!

I have a surprise for you! Our dear Javier from the CEPI center told me that our class in January for Level 2 will be for 2 months instead of 1! He told me after you had left today. Now we will have even more classes to continue our English studies. Thank you so much and I send a big hug to: Sofía, Juan Manuel, Rosa, Rosario, Carmen, Letizia, Gustavo, Ricardo, Olga, Luz, Olinda, and Juan! I’ll see you soon and good luck with your other CEPI classes! Do you recognize the photo above? It´s our friend Bichin when he joined us during our first class together!

Big hug,

Your teacher,


En español:

Querida clase CEPI Oct-Nov 2012! Hoy fue nuestra última clase! Enhorabuena!

Estuve muy feliz de tenerlos en mi clase. Muchísimas gracias por todo su fuerte trabajo estas últimas semanas, lo han hecho genial! Fue un gran placer para mi tener un grupo tan amigable y dedicado como el de ustedes. Ya quiero verlos de nuevo en Enero (no olviden repasar para la prueba de entrada!) para continuar ayudándolos a mejorar su nivel de Inglés. Les tengo una sorpresa! Nuestro querido Javier del CEPI nos ha dejado dar el nivel 2 en Enero por dos meses en lugar de uno! Me lo dijo después de que ya todos se habían ido hoy. Así que ahora tendremos aún más clases para nuestros estudios de Inglés. Muchas gracias y un gran abrazo para: Sofía, Juan Manuel, Rosa, Rosario, Carmen, Letizia, Gustavo, Ricardo, Olga, Luz, Olinda, y Juan! Nos vemos pronto y buena suerte con sus otros cursos en el CEPI! Reconocen la foto de arriba? Es nuestro amigo Bichin, cuando nos acompañó en nuestra primera clase juntos!

Un fuerte abrazo,

Your teacher,



Here are the answers to your final homework:

1D a)

Singular    /     Plural

1- a bag  / bags

2- a country / countries

3- an identity card / identity cards

4-a watch / watches

5- an e-mail / emails

6- a sandwich / sandwiches

7- a key / keys

8- an umbrella / umbrellas

b) (1) this  (2) these   (3) that   (4) those