Want to treat your class to a fun, sorta-silly activity that’s great for learning vocabulary? Open a clothing boutique in your classroom! This activity works well with Levels 1 through 3. It’s especially good for Level 2A, which covers accessories in Unit 1, Lesson D (coming up on the syllabus very soon).
This activity helps students learn the names of clothing and accessories, use color adjectives to describe nouns, and practice shopping dialogue. It’s easy to do, though it requires a bit of planning, as you will need to bring in items from home.
1. Bring in a selection of gaudy accessories—cheap costume jewelry, hats, scarves, belts, purses, gloves, sunglasses, watches, and ties. You can add a few items of clothing, such as a man’s suit jacket or lady’s frilly blouse, but only things that are easy to slip on and off.
2. During the break, both teachers dress up in the items. Layer them on outrageously, putting on at least one example of each type of item. Also push the teacher’s desk to the center-front of the room.
3. When students return from break, and after they stop snickering at your outfits, introduce the word “accessories” if it hasn’t come up before. Then begin stripping off the items one by one. As you take off an item (say, a hat), wave it in the air and ask, “What am I wearing?” or “What’s this?” Students will respond, “a hat.” Elicit modifiers, e.g., “What color?” The other teacher writes the word hat on the board, keeping a running list of items.
4. As each item is removed and named, place it on the teacher’s desk. This will become the display of items for sale in the boutique.
5. Model a dialogue, with one teacher as boutique owner and the other teacher as customer. Customer: “I’m going to a party tonight. What should I wear?” Clerk: “Do you like this blue scarf? It’s very pretty.” Clerk encourages the customer to try it on and model it for the class. Customer: “Oh, I like it. How much does it cost?” “Two dollars.” “Fine, I’ll take it.”
6. Form pairs of students. In each pair, one partner is the boutique owner and the other is the customer. Pairs take turns coming up to the front to perform a shopping skit. These can be very funny, especially when students ham it up while modeling the items or someone decides to haggle about the price. Have two of the stronger speakers go first so they can model the role-play for the rest of the class.
7. At the end of the activity, review the names of all the accessories and colors again to reinforce the vocabulary.