ESL activities and games for teaching how to describe animals

Language focus | 60 - 90 minutes

An ESL lesson plan for teaching beginners how to describe animals using the verb to be. This lesson includes a lead-in activity, several group activities, a game and a collection of specially selected ESL resources from around the web.

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Use of the board

Start by adding the adjectives to the top the board and using gestures to elicit the L1 translation. Next, draw the images of giraffes and hippos and start to add the questions. Finally, try to evoke the correct responses and add them to the board. Depending on the age or level of the class, you may need to revise/drill the verb 'be' beforehand.

EFL - ESL Lead-in activity for describing animals


Animal adjectives

Students use the newly learned language to identify different animals.

Start off by eliciting some familiar animals from the students and adding them to the board:


Now ask the group questions using adjectives from the sample board work. For example:

Which animals are + big/tall/small/…?
Are ____ scary/big/tall?

Teacher's favourite animal

With the students' help, write about your favourite creature on the board.

Use the template below as a guide and elicit as much as possible from the students. If you can, confirm their understanding in the L1.

Tigers are dangerous and scary.
They’re orange and black.
They aren’t tall or friendly.
I love tigers!

My favourite animal

In this follow-on activity, students will use the previous template to write about their favourite animal.

Following on from the previous task, students will now write about their favourite animal. Encourage them to copy the same structure that you used in the last exercise. After you have corrected it, they can read it to the class.

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Guess the animal

A stripped-down version of 20 Questions where the students get to practise the target language.

On each turn, a student thinks of an animal and stands at the front of the class while the other students ask them questions:

Student A: Are they small?
Student B: Yes, they are
Student A: Are they dogs?
Student A: No
Student C: What colour are they?
Student A: They are blue and yellow?
Student B: Are they parrots?
Student A: Yes!

For more advanced classes, switch it up so that the student in play is pretending to be the animal and is responding in the first person singular.

More ESL lesson plans for beginners

If you've found these ideas useful, have a look our complete list of ESL lesson plans for beginners (A1 Mid-level), as well as our entire collection of ESL lesson plans. Our suggested next lesson is about places in the town.

Are you an Android or iOS user? Then you should give our app a go! The TEFL Handbook app has over 100 lesson plans, 300+ ESL activities and over 100 ideas for classroom games. All of which can be accessed offline. Perfect for quick reference in the classroom.

Printable versions of all resources are available to members. View a sample

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