Fun Ways to Develop Language Using Categories

Are you looking for ways to spice up your language and vocabulary instruction? How about using categories and classification in a new and fun way? What Would You Be? is a perfect activity for your elementary classroom!

Are you looking for a new way to increase your student’s vocabulary using categories and classification?  Do you need engaging ways to deepen the vocabulary of your ESL students?  This activity is a fun way to develop language using categories!

These activities can easily be incorporated into your regular daily or weekly routine.  Your students will also appreciate the unique approach to learning about categories and classifying objects.  This activity involves a sentence frame and brainstorming items in a category.  The sentence frame for this activity is:

“If I had to be a _________, I would be a(n) ___________.”

Sentence frames for brainstorming using categories. These strips can be printed on tag paper and cut into strips. Students can randomly pull a strip and complete the sentence frame as an early finisher or extension activity.

Students can either randomly choose a category or you can “plant” categories in their pool of choices.  As a teacher, you have the flexibility to decide which categories are most beneficial for the students you teach.  The variety of categories is far reaching and sure to engage even the most resistant students.

Here is a sample list of categories that you might want to choose from:  farm animals, ocean animals, insects, mammals, birds, dinosaurs, pets, cities, states, continents, oceans, famous landmarks, planets, parks, restaurants, fruits, vegetables, desserts, candy bars, snacks, lollipop flavors, snacks, sandwiches, celebrities, action heroes, presidents, cartoon characters, colors, numbers, letters, seasons, holidays, months of the year, days of the week, shapes, instruments, electronics, pieces of furniture, school supplies, songs, movies, nursery rhymes, board games, flowers, toys, natural disasters, sports, scents, and chores.

Tips for completing the sequence:

  1.  Students brainstorm items from the chosen category.  For example, if the category is sandwiches, students might come up with peanut butter and jelly, turkey, grilled cheese, steak, ham and cheese, BLT, roast beef, and veggie sandwich.
  2. Student can then choose ONE sandwich they would choose to be and create a list of adjectives that describe the chosen sandwich.  I’m not sure about you, but I’d definitely choose a grilled cheese sandwich because it’s warm, gooey, buttery, crunchy, and delicious.
  3. Students pull it all together by writing a short response that justifies their chosen item.  Do you see how this serves to develop language skills in so many ways?  Finally, students are able to draw an illustration of themselves as the “thing” they’ve chosen.  The picture below shows a sample that is complete.

This categories and classification printable is perfect for students developing English. Not only do students participate in brainstorming a list of things in a category, they justify their choice to be one of the things in their list. This is perfect for ESL students!

Short on time?  

If you only have a few moments and would like to try this activity, another option is to simply use the sentence frame.  Ask students to brainstorm the list and pick one student to choose an item from that list and tell why he/she would want to be that particular item.  If you have a few spare moments before dismissal, are waiting in line to enter an assembly, or are riding on a bus to a field trip, you can easily add this to your repertoire of “fill-in” activities.

Sentence frames for brainstorming using categories. These strips can be printed on tag paper and cut into strips. Students can randomly pull a strip and complete the sentence frame as an early finisher or extension activity.

This activity requires students to think critically, develop an argument, justify their argument, and compose a supporting response.  Not only is it beneficial for broadening the vocabulary for general education students, it is particularly useful for students who are learning English.

There is a free sample of this product in my freebie product library.  You do need to be a subscriber to access the products.  Once you subscribe and confirm your subscription, you will receive an email with the password.

The full product can also be found here.

You may be interested in these posts:

5 Easy Ways to Make Vocabulary Fun

Top 10 Task Card Activities

Flip Books: The Ultimate Way to Engage Students

I am Kirsten Tulsian, an elementary educator with 18 years of experience as a teacher and counselor. My passion lies in empowering students to discover their inherent brilliance through the use of engaging, rigorous, and meaningful activities. I look forward to connecting with you!

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