Read what a teacher says about this activity:

‘Can you remember the items? helps my learners develop their memory skills. It’s also a good way to revise and recycle vocabulary. It can also be adapted so they can develop their creativity and collaborative skills.’ 

Stage 1: Prepare 

Collect around 10–15 items and bring these to the class with you. For example: 

  • a comb 
  • a key 
  • a bus ticket 
  • a coin.   

Some of the items can be vocabulary the learners have recently learned and some can be new words.  

In a previous lesson you could say to learners: ‘For the next lesson bring an object in with you.’ 

Stage 2: Introduce 

Display the items on a table at the front of the class. Hold each item up and ask: ‘What is this?’ 

Elicit answers and put each item back on the table. 

Stage 3: Remember   

Cover the items with a large piece of paper or cloth. 

Say: ‘Use your memory and write a list of all the items on the table. You have three minutes. If you can’t remember the word in English, write it in your own language.’ 

Get learners to write their lists. Then … 

Option 1: Put learners in pairs and say: ‘Compare your list. Look at the spelling.’ 

Option 2: Pick a learner and say: ‘How many items did you remember? Read your list out.’ [Pause] ‘Can anyone add anything else?’ 

Finally, remove the cover and check the answers. 

Stage 4: Create 

Put learners in small groups and say: ‘Work together. Write a story using the words you wrote down. You have ten minutes.’ 

Monitor and help where necessary. 

Stage 5: Share with the whole class 

Choose a few groups and say: ‘Read/act out your story.’ 

Memory is often a neglected skill in English classes, but it is an important part of learning anything, particularly a new language. By getting learners to write a story you also help them remember the vocabulary as they are actively using it.


Elicit: How a teacher gets information from learners, e.g. asking questions, prompting. 

Monitor: The way a teacher watches to see how well an individual, group or class is doing a task. 

Recycle: Practising language that has already been learned but re-introducing it in a new context or with a different skill. 

Revise: Reviewing and practising language that the learners have already studied, to help them remember it better.