8 Fun and Interactive Ways to Review Idioms

There’s no escaping idioms! Whether you love them or hate them, your students need to know them. Of course, it’s more important to teach idioms that are in common usage. If you come across outdated idioms in your teaching materials, be sure to tell your students to avoid using these expressions. Some students fall in love with idioms, and end up overusing them in their writing. Teach your students that idioms are great to know, but should be used sparingly. Too many idioms can drive people bonkers!

In Sprout’s Spotlight this week you’ll find a fun lesson plan about Astronauts. To keep on theme, here are 10 air and space-themed idioms that you can teach your students, followed by 8 fun and interactive ways to review idioms.

10 Air and Space Idioms

clear the air: to make a tense situation better; to resolve a conflict

down to earth: real, not fake or pretentious

over the moon: very excited about something

out of the blue: unexpected

out of this world: absolutely amazing

personal space: a physical area around a person that should be respected

space cadet: a person who is not paying attention

full of hot air: to be talking nonsense

space out: to not focus on the task or topic at hand

leave up in the air: to not make a final decision just yet

moon someone: to pull down one’s pants and show off one’s bare bum (You may or may not want to teach your students this idiom!)

8 Fun and Interactive Ways to Review Idioms

Roleplay the Idiom: Take two students out into the hall and tell them an idiom that they should act out from a list of idioms you have recently taught. The students can’t use the word itself in their skit. The other students have to guess the idiom. (If your students enjoy acting out real-life scenarios, check out ESL-Library’s selection of role plays.)

Personalize the Idiom: Have students take turns telling personal stories that depict a specific idiom. Then have your students paraphrase the stories they heard from each other so that they don’t forget the meaning of the idiom.

Illustrate the Idiom: Have students draw a picture or cartoon that illustrates an idiom. Show them Phrasemix for inspiration. Decorate your walls and halls.

Photograph the Idiom: Challenge students to photograph something that illustrates an idiom. Put all of the photos together and make a book, photo album, or set of talking photos (try Fotobabble). Show them this ELTpics set for inspiration.

Visualize the Idiom: Challenge your students to search for or point out visual examples of idioms. They can do this by pointing to scenes or pictures, or by finding images in magazines and advertisements. (Check out last week’s post on Visualizing the Present Progressive.)

Write with Idioms: If you are teaching a few different idioms based on a theme (such as air and space idioms), challenge your students to write a letter, chain story, short story, or dialogue that uses all of the idioms. For practice like this, it’s okay to overuse idioms!

Guess the Idiom (Hot Seat): Divide students into two teams. Each team member has one representative at the front of the class (facing away from the board). Team members have to find a way to get their team member (who is in the hot seat) to guess the idiom that you write on the board. The first representative to guess correctly gets a point and gets out of the hot seat. The other player remains in the hot seat and faces a new challenger for the next idiom. For a space-themed game of Hot Seat, give both teams ten points to start with. Take a number off each time a team scores a point. Which team will blast off first? 10, 9, 8 …

Make Vidioms: Videotape your students acting out an idiom. Put all of the clips together in a short video and show it to the school. Share vidioms with parents, too! Check out this fun video made by young students who learned some idioms.

Find this week’s lesson on Astronauts in the Discovery Center – Interesting Jobs.


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Tara Benwell

Tara Benwell is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry. She is the media director and head writer for ESL-Library, and a contributor to its sister site Sprout English. Tara is the author of an iPad storybook series for kids called Happy Campers Books. Her debut novel, The Proper Order of Things is available on Amazon and in the iBookstore.

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