Fun Lesson Using "What Is Happening?"

Kids whatishappeningCredit: is my elementary lesson plan for ESL students. I did this with South Korean students that were of an average level of comprehension. This can obviously be changed to deal with lower or higher levels. The material and pre lesson work are minimal. There's not really that much-needed to be done, except have a fun time in class.


Grade: 5th

No of students 20


The lesson is mainly conversational based. They will be speaking and listening. They will first cover the key vocabulary (mentioned in materials). The teacher will use the grammar form of present tense. The teacher will show on board the differences between the vocabulary with and without the 'ing' form. Games are then used to help make the speaking more fluent. The students should become comfortable asking about what someone is doing, or answering to someone's questions.

Key Expressions:

This is a simple question and answer conversational class. This covers the following standardized expressions.

What are you doing?

I am walking. I am swimming.

What is he/she doing?

He/she is writing.


1. A verbs list: for the teacher: write, sing, talk, climb, drink, run, swim, paint, dance, and laugh.

2. Flash-cards covering the 10 words above. Clip art would be fine as it is usually more animated than photos.

3. You need a PPT of the pictures. It needs to be 20 slides. One slide would be the picture and the next has the saying, such as, "I am writing."

Board Planning:

This lesson focuses on actions and speaking. There is no writing for them, but you will write words and sentences on the board. There will be 10 words (5 rows by 2 columns). Make sure you leave room for adding 'ing' to the words later. Also, you will need to write the question sentence and the answer sentence somewhere. These will use those 10 words. Place the words to the side and so leave plenty of space for the sentences in the middle of the board.

Warm Up (5 Minutes)

You can start with a few actions by yourself and see if they pick up on what you are doing. You will do this simply to get them talking. They will see you doing some moving actions, such as running, jumping and dancing, but don't say what you are doing. They will probably think you're crazy, but it's a great icebreaker. So after that ask them what did they see. They hopefully will say running, dancing, jumping and so on. If they are really up for it, then why not get them to try to do it for themselves.


This can include asking about what they did since the last time you saw them. For instance they may have had a weekend break where you can ask about active things they did. Keeping a mental note of their activities could be good for the question and answering to be done later. You should tell them that this is a new subject today and that it is based on doing things.

Class Arrangement:

Initially, the standard one desk setup will suffice for the start. When we play the games, tables will need to be put into pairs. The computer will need to be running with a PowerPoint viewer. You should also think of how many groups or pairs for the games based on the number of attendants. If there are an odd number of students then maybe you can give one team option to be a group of three.

Presentation of Objectives:

To start, write on the board at the top, "I am studying." This is the form they will use and concentrate on the most. Practicing all together gives them the confidence to try, compared to picking students. Giving them too much of the dialog now I see and overloading them. They should concentrate on just answering, first.

Write down on the board the words they said to your warm-up activities. This gives them a reference to your actions.

Development (30-40 Minutes)

First you need to show a ppt covering pictures of active things to do. As you go through them they will need to shout out what they can see. This might be more advisable to pick a random student. After going through them all, close the ppt and then ask what they saw. Write down on the board their answers. Ask them for answers if it's a bit quiet. For the teacher, a cheat sheet might be useful. As they get them, tick off from the list. Give actions and tips for the ones not yet got.

Ask them what these words are. Explain to them they are verbs, and doing words. Try and ask them for more doing words too. They may say words such as eat, sleep or play and other words that are closer to their vocabulary range. Then introduce a question, "What are you doing?" Write down below this the answer, "I am ______."

At this point they need to know the change of the word to present tense. This includes adding an 'ing'. Now you should show them an example, such as "I am singing." Next write beside each word the 'ing', plus removing an 'e' as in write to writing, and adding an 'm' from swim to swimming and an 'n' to run for running. This should be an accepted rule from you. It might be hard for them to understand so they should see you use on those words at the board. This could be a future lesson for them. An idea to help them now, would be to change the color of your pen for the newer parts.

Next, you can then use those words in a sentence. Go around the class practicing with one of the words chosen by you. Choose such as, sing and drink, considered as simple for lower level. Climb and laugh may be used for higher levels. If this is done on really low-level or younger kids, it may be advisable to change those words completely. As they practice, you then copy what they have just said for clarity. This is not just for them, but for the class. The chances are, the student will speak quietly and some won't have paid attention.

After trying a few words with each student, next try by removing the word to leave, "I am ______________." Next ask again, "What are you doing?" And ask them to put in their own word. After asking the students for their own attempt, it's now time for a bit of fun.

Change the form of the sentence to "What is he/she doing?" And the answer to "He/she is _______." Their response depends a lot on the class. And so they could be funny or not. Make sure the person you pick is doing something that can be used as a word, such as, speaking. Once they start feeling comfortable with free answers it should become a fun activity.

Sentence Practice Game:

Next, pair up the students and give out the flash cards to each pair. If you want to group up with more due to a large class and only a few packs of cards, then you can do also. So first off make them pair up. They will do better by pairing with a friend. Some will not be friends, so later you need to encourage them to play more than others. Move tables to be next to each other and clear way anything else on the table.

There should be 10 verbs per pack and two of each type. The cards are showing just pictures. They will be the same from the first ppt you had shown them. As the kids get the cards, make them split the pack evenly. Now they should have 10 cards each.

Between them, they can now say, "What are you doing?" Followed by their friend saying, such as, "I am swimming" That person keeps the card. Next that student then starts by asking the question and the other student answers. The answering student, if correct then takes the other persons card. If they do not know, they should give to the student who questioned. They should try to collect as many pairs as possible. At the end the winner is the one with the most. If they finish early, then shuffle the pack and split the cards between them again.

Performing a practice in front of the students before they start can be a great help. Choose your best student so far for your example pair for the class to see. As the game progresses, walk around the room checking their sentences. Correct some students if you see fit to do so. Some might have a harder time to do as well as others.

The Active Game:

This game will get them moving. As at the start of the lesson, they saw you moving around the classroom, performing the actions, well now it's their turn. Put one of the packs of flash cards on the table near the teacher's desk and choose a random student from the register. Going straight down the list is accepted by the kids. Random picking might make them refuse to come up to the front and try. Next, make the random student choose a card. They should not speak but purely act the verb to the other students. The teacher will ask, "What is he/she doing?" The students can then answer, "He/she is swimming." They take it in turns to come up and act.



Go over the lesson showing the tasks for the students. Include the sentences for questions and answers. Also go over the words asking about the changes to the words to make present tense. This will be purely a recap with no new words.

Evaluation of Objectives

Recap on the lesson with going over the first sentence form first used. Try adding some of the other grammar forms too for better students. Do a small recap covering the question, "What are you doing?" This then can be answered with either an example from the board or by something they are doing or like doing.


Wrap up the lesson with praising them for their good attempts. Then mention to them that next time we will include what they did at home, so they should remember for their next class things they will do. When they come back to see you again they will have things to talk about and make their own sentences.

Future lessons can integrate with this subject easily such as with other days and feelings. Examples include "What did you do on Monday?" And, "What will you do at the weekend? Adding feelings, such as emotions to the activity will help them make better and longer sentences. Also, you can use the negative form. The question changes to, "Are you _____?"Their answer then changes to "I am not ______. I am _______. Then later again, as before, include also he/she. "Is _______ learning?"


I have taught for the past 5 years and as it was not my first main profession, it did come as a surprise to me. As a student, it's the place you want to avoid, but to then be a teacher and be there did not initially appeal to me. I must admit the concept of teaching now seems a great way to interact and help others in their learning. I guess you could say that I can appreciate their pain of studying and want to help them have a good time.