EFL - ESL activities and games for asking "What's this?"

A collection of ideas and resources for teaching young learners how to ask and answer basic "What's this?" style questions. Feel free to use these ideas to form the basis of a lesson plan or to supplement an existing one. If you're an iOS or Android user, try this lesson out on our TEFL Handbook app. It gives you offline access to all of our materials, perfect for quick reference in the classroom.

Lead-in activity

The sample ESL board work introduces students to the dialogue and grammar that will form the focus of this lesson. Students learn to ask basic questions and identify the correct indefinite articles to use with their responses. As always, the teacher should try to elicit as much as possible from the students using actions or the students' L1.

EFL - ESL Lead-in activity for teaching whats this | Beginner

ESL activities for "what's this?" questions

Indefinite articles

This ESL grammar activity will test whether the students understand when to use the correct indefinite article. Write the following style of prompts on the board for the students to complete with a or an:

_ man
_ bag
_ umbrella
_ pencil case
_ glass of milk
_ orange door
_ old man

What's this?

In this interactive ESL classroom activity, you'll use items from the class to ask each student a question:

Teacher: What’s this?
Student: It’s a chair.

What's this?: Pair work

For this speaking activity, the students will work in pairs. Have the students to move around the classroom identifying classroom objects using the new language. You should monitor for the correct usage of articles and help them with any new vocabulary they encounter.

Related games

Spelling relay challenge

A fun spelling ESL game that can be modified to test the students on indefinite articles. Divide the class into two teams and have them form two queues at the back of the room or just back from the board. On each turn, a student will move to the board and write a word (including the article) on the board. When they have finished writing their word they hand the marker to the next person in their team. Students are not allowed to copy words from the other team's list.

Set a time limit for each round and score a point for each letter to encourage the use of longer words.

Additional ESL resources

If you're still in need of further ideas, we've had a look on the web for other free ESL resources from around the web. Here's what we found:

If you'd prefer a lesson plan aimed at children, this free lesson at fredisalearns has you covered.

islcollective have a 'what's this?' worksheet that would complement this lesson very well.

Finally, if you want to add some video to your lesson, this video by masteringarticles was our favourite.

More ESL lesson plans for beginners

We hope that you were able to grab a few ideas from this lesson plan. Our suggested next lesson is on teaching plurals. Be sure to check out our full list of ESL lesson plans for beginners (A1 Upper), as well as the complete collection. Also, if you're an iOS or Android user, the best way to view this content is through the TEFL Handbook Android application. An ESL lesson planner for English teachers, designed for in-class use.

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