I recently covered a unit on fashion in my beginning ESL course. I wanted to do something that would be fun and engaging with students, as well as get them using English vocabulary for clothes. I ended up creating this activity sequence that ultimately gets students to piece together an outfit for a specific occasion from “stores” of magazine clothes created by groups. The great thing about this activity is that it’s as fun for the teacher as it is for the students. I enjoyed watching my students work together to create stores, find and write vocabulary words, and then practice shopping for clothes in order to create the best outfit. It was fun to see their creativity come out. It was also a great way to get them using vocabulary and grammar for clothes shopping. I always find activities that simulate real-world situations far more interesting and meaningful for students than worksheets or grammar drills.
- Print a copy of the fashion vocabulary notetaker for each student.
- Print enough occasion figures so that each student will have one.
- Bring scissors, tape, poster-sized paper, and fashion magazines to class.
- Introduce Fashion Words: Display fashion vocabulary images using the slides. Have students use the fashion vocabulary notetaker to write their language’s word for vocabulary they don’t yet know.
- Write About Clothes: Give students time in class to describe a picture and the clothes the man in the picture is wearing. (This is on the slides)
- More Vocabulary: Review vocabulary for different occasions and discuss the types of clothes a person might wear to each occasion. (This is on the slides)
- Group Time: Divide the class into groups of 2 or 4 (even numbers are best).
- Give each group scissors, tape, old magazines, and a poster paper.
- Give them 20-25 minutes to create a fashion “store.” Ask them to cut articles of clothing from magazines and tape them (with only one piece of tape as to allow for easy removal) to the paper. Next to each item, ask them to write its name and a price. Tell them to cut out just the clothes; they will need to cut the people out.
- After the stores have been created, pass out an occasion figure to each student. Explain that they will need to walk around to the different stores and try to put together the best outfit for their specific occasion.
- Half of each team will go first while the others stay behind to sell clothes. After a given time, they will switch roles. (I ran into a slight problem with stores getting “sold out.” One way you could solve this is by having the first sellers fold their stores in half and save items for the people who go second.
- This can also be a great place to practice target grammar as well. I reviewed polite requests for this activity, for example, “Could I see the blue shirt.” This would also be a great activity to practice money vocabulary and questions using “how much.”
- Voting: After everyone has created their outfits by taping clothes to their figure, ask everyone to place their figures in an area for them to be displayed. Give each student three star stickers or three pieces of a sticky note (I cut small sticky notes in strips, which worked fine). Ask students to look at all of the outfits and vote for the top three best outfits that they think fit the occasion the best. The outfits with the most votes are the winners.
- Optional Extension: you could have students describe the outfit they created to other students in the class.
Here are some student examples from my class. The little yellow pieces of paper are the students’ votes.
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Preview of Handouts