Fun Activities For Clothes Vocabulary 2
More fun activities based on the names of clothes and how to describe them. For all ages and levels.
1. Chain stories (=Consequences)
This is an amusing activity about combining clothes. Each person is given a blank piece of paper and should write a description of the hat that someone is wearing, e.g. “He was wearing a big red hat with a flower in it”. They then fold the paper so their sentence can’t be seen, and pass it to the next person clockwise around the class so that that person can describe the next item of clothing down, e.g. “He was wearing a thick gold chain” or “He was wearing a blue and green striped old school tie”. When the whole outfit has been described by people writing, folding and passing seven to ten times, the next person unfolds the paper, reads the whole description, and tells the class whether the outfit makes sense and would look good (usually not!)
2. Clothes cultural and historical bluff
Students read descriptions of clothes that they are probably not familiar with, e.g. “Men wore tights in Europe in the sixteenth century”, “Scottish men wear a kind of skirt called a kilt, with no pants underneath” and “Japanese women usually wear a full Western outfit under their kimonos”. They have to guess which ones are false, e.g. the example about kimonos. They can also write similar true and false sentences to test other groups or the teacher with.
Cut up a picture and get students to match up the different parts without showing them to each other. For example, you could cut up five or six pictures of different people by cutting them across their necks, waists and ankles. Students try to find someone who has another part of the same person by describing the clothes and seeing which ones seem to match, e.g. a suit jacket with a smart skirt. A similar activity is to take a group scene and cut it vertically so that some people are cut in half. They should then be able to put the whole picture in order without seeing other people’s segments by describing what people are wearing, e.g. “The woman on the right on my strip of paper is wearing a really big hat and a long dress” “She same woman is on the left of mine, so my slip of paper must be next. On the right of my piece of paper there is a school boy wearing a uniform with shorts and a satchel. Does anyone have the other half of him?” etc.
4. Fashion show
Students walk up and down the middle of the classroom as if it is a catwalk while other people take turns describing what is being worn in a stereotypically fashion show style, e.g. “Sharon is wearing a medium –length skirt from Woolworths and a T-shirt with a strange English phrase on it from Tokyo”. Students can describe what people are really wearing, or make everyone use their imaginations more by describing completely different outfits that they have designed and drawn but are not really wearing. Students who are watching and listening could listen out for inaccuracies, or decide on which imaginary outfit they like best.
Students ask for clothes-related advice and decide on whose advice is best. The problems can be their own ideas, based on particularly vocabulary that you want them to practice (e.g. “I have to wear a skirt at work but I hate my legs” for “skirt”), or just given to them as sentences (e.g. “I need to go to a job interview but I can’t afford to buy any new clothes”).
6. Shopping problem roleplays
Clothes shopping roleplays can be a bit dull, so it is nice to introduce a problem element such as the shop not having anything in stock for the bottom half of your body but not wanting to tell you.
7. Drawing games for clothes
The simplest drawing game is Pictionary, in which one student draws an item of clothing (perhaps from a card they have been given) and the others guess what it is. You can add language and challenge to this by giving longer descriptions of the clothes, e.g. “flat-soled shoes” or “knee-length socks”. You can also add a drawing element to roleplays, with the shopper describing the clothes they want (perhaps from a picture) and the shop assistant drawing the item of clothes that they are going to offer them, changing any details which are not acceptable until they get a sale.
8. The definitions game
Students are given a card with an item of clothing drawn and/or written on it, and must explain what it is without saying any part of its name until their partners guess what it is. For example, “trousers” can be explained by saying “You wear it on your legs. Men and women both use these. Jeans is a kind of this thing”.
9. Stock a shop
Students decide on and write down exactly what clothes that they are going to stock their shop with, up to the limit that the teacher has set, e.g. 20 items. Other people then going shopping in those shops and see if what they want is matched by what is in stock, and if not if the shopkeeper can persuade them to take the items that are in stock instead.
10. Alibi game
The Alibi Game is a TEFL classic in which suspects and their alibis are questioned separately to try and find differences in their stories about what they were doing at the time of the crime. You can emphasise the clothes language in this game by telling them to make their alibis about being together in a crowded place and/or giving the “policemen” suggested questions like “What were the people at the table next to you wearing?” and “What colour were his shoe laces?” Students have to answer all the questions that they are asked, i.e. cannot say “I can’t remember (because I was drunk)” or “I didn’t notice”.
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic blog.