Some activities are very specific while others are quite versatile. The stick figure activity is one of my favorite speaking activities because it can be used for so many things at all levels. I’ve used it in my low-beginning – intermediate ESL courses, as well as my composition courses with native speakers.
The design of the activity is quite simple. You give students a paper with a simple stick figure printed on each side of the paper. You then ask them to complete the stick figure to represent two opposing or different ideas on each side. For example, “Healthy things I do” on one side, and “unhealthy things I do” on the other side.
You can assign the drawing part as homework or give time in class for it. Tell them they can design it however they want: words, drawings, or a combination of both. It’s totally up to them and what they prefer. The nice thing about this activity, especially for lower levels, is that it gives them something to talk from and a visual to point at to help explain their ideas during the discussion part of the activity.
You could ask them to draw any number of things on the stick figures. It really just depends on what you’re doing in class. Some example are:
- My healthy habits / My unhealthy habits (targeting vocabulary you’ve learned)
- Me right now / My habits and routines (targeting a specific grammar structure)
- Fixed Mindset / Growth Mindset (related to a reading from class)
- Problem /solution (prewriting activity and discussing topics they’re interested in)
- stereotype about me / truth about me (building community and learning about each other)
I do number five in my class, and it always turns out to be a powerful activity that helps students learn about their classmates and build a stronger community. We watch the TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story,” talk about stereotypes, and then I give them stick figures with the phrases “some people say that ________ are ________. / But the truth is, I’m …. It gives them a chance to counteract stereotypes they face in their lives.
After students have completed their figures, have them form two lines facing each other, so everyone has a partner. Give each pair a few minutes to explain their stick figures to each other and then rotate the pairs, so everyone has a new partner.
CLICK HERE for an example that you can modify to fit your class.