Author: Deb Avery | Published on 1 July 2023


Read what a teacher says about this activity:

My learners often struggle to remember and use new vocabulary, so I often add movement when I teach new words. By practising the word in different ways, learners have to really think about what the word means. And it’s also fun!

Stage 1: Prepare

Select words from a vocabulary category which you want to teach. Write the words on the board. e.g. If the class is learning about transport write:

  • car
  • bus
  • train
  • plane
  • ship

Stage 2: 

Say: 'We are going to learn some new vocabulary about transport. Let’s think of some movements that make us think about these words.'

Read the words together. 

[show a drawing of a child pretending to drive holding a steering wheel]

Stage 3: Brainstorm

As a class, brainstorm some of the gestures or movements which could be linked to the words e.g. car – pretend to be holding a steering wheel; bus - pretend to be bouncing in the seat, etc.

Ask: “What other words can you think of? Let’s think of some verbs or action words.”

Write additional vocabulary on the board e.g. drive, fly, climb on, climb off, crash, bounce, turn, hoot, etc.

Stage 4: Work in groups

Learners work in small groups to come up with movements that match each word on the board.

Say: 'When I point to a word, say the word and do the movement.'

Repeat the words and actions a number of times until the learners are able to remember the words.

Stage 5: Review

Check that the learners have learnt to read and use the vocabulary.  

Use different methods:

  • Show a flashcard of the word and learners do the actions
  • Do the action and learners point to the word
  • Learners make sentences with the words
  • Learners read the words in a text and circle them

Extend the activity: each group creates a story using the vocabulary words and movements. They present their story to the class.


Brainstorm: To suggest ideas quickly, before then considering them more carefully.