Walk through the Seasons

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Time: 45 minutes

Focus: Vocabulary, writing poetry                                                                                                               Materials: None


This activity has a very good effect on the group dynamic of a class which is familiar with a four season, temperate zone climate. 

Procedure

Pre-teach any vocabulary you plan to use that you think your class may not know.

Do a short physical warm-up exercise just to loosen your students up.


Tell your students that your’re going to take them for a walk through the seasons. Form an inward-facing circle consisting of all the class and yourself. Ask everyone to turn to the right, put their hands on the shoulders of the person in front, close their eyes and begin to walk gently forward. (If the furniture won’t permit this, you can do the walk by everyone standing beside their desk and walking on the spot.)

As you walk, talk everyone through the scenes you pass. Talk slowly and gently, pausing briefly after each word or phrase, so that everyone can imagine what you are describing. It might go something like this: ‘It’s a spring morning – bright, crisp, your’re in a meadow beside a river, birds singing, frogs croaking, blossom, fresh colours; now moving to the sea and beach in summer early in the afternoon – heat, bright sun, glittering light, warm water, sand, relaxation; moving on to a wood in late afternoon – the many-coloured leaves of trees, toadstools, kookaburras, mellow warmth, gentle yet strong light, beyond the trees a field with corn, ripening mangoes; moving into the darkness and cold of winter – snow, night, twinkling stars, snug coat and gloves, red nose, a cottage in the distance, a light, the wooden door, opening it, the coal fire, sitting beside it, hot chocolate; end of walk.’ Ask everyone to picture the classroom, open their eyes gently and return to the here and now.

Ask your students to reflect on their walk and decide which season they most enjoyed going through. Divide them into groups according to the season they chose – don’t worry about the groups being of different sizes – and subdivide each group into pairs. If as occasionally happens, only one student has chosen a particular season, make up the pair by joining in yourself.

Ask each pair to write down 12 adjectives, eight nouns and six verbs ending in ‘-ing’ that they associate with their chosen season. They can be words from your narrative or others.

Tell them they are now going to write a poem. Don’t be put off by any groans and reassure them, if necessary, that they will all be able to write good poems. Tell them they are to use all the words they have written down and no others except articles, prepositions, ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘but’, ‘yes’, and ‘no’. I occasionally allow other words so long as they are not nouns, adjectives and verbs. Be reasonable but firm. I allow them to repeat a word if it is for rhetorical effect. They usually find the first few lines easy but it is the last few that challenge their imaginations and are therefore more fun.

NOTE

It is important to make autumn and winter expecially evocative so that not everyone chooses spring and summer. This is especially true with teenagers.

Here are two uncorrected poems written by fifteen and sixteen year olds.

Summer

Happy days                    Swimming in the water          Big ice-creams

Blue and shiny sky        In a cold beach                        In holidays

Sunny summer              Hot sand                                   Fishing, loving

Flying birds                    Shiny sun                                  In a yellow boat

                                                                                           Lovely drinking                                                    By Sheila & Teresa


Poem Number 2:

WINTER

Walking on the cold, white, freezing snow

Drinking good hot chocolate, sitting besides the big warming fire

Coming in the little dark house

Seeing the beautiful mountain, trees, hills, the rainy foggy sky

 By: Elizabeth & Carlos