Memory Picture

In the Memory Picture ESL activity, students work together to draw a picture from memory.

Students for Memory Picture ESL Activity:2+Time for Memory Picture ESL Activity:10-20 mins
Resources for Memory Picture ESL Activity:
Projector; Prepared Image

Find a suitable image that you can project, with enough details/target language elements.

If you have a small class, you can do this activity together on the board (this works particularly well if you can project/draw in two different places to compare at the end). With larger classes, divide the students into groups of two or three. Each group will need a blank piece of paper.

  1. Project the image on the wall/board.
  2. The students have one or two minutes to memorise as much of the scene as possible. They must not write/draw anything during this time!
  3. When the time is up, remove the image from view.
  4. One student in the class/each group now acts as the artist, and draws the picture on the board/a piece of paper. All of the students will help them by describing elements of the picture, using the target language.
  5. Students should combine and/or debate ideas to come to a decision. For example, Student A: There was a woman playing the guitar on the left. Student B: Yes, she was below the two trees, but she was playing the violin, not the guitar. Enforce English-only strictly here!
  6. Finally, reveal the image again and compare the pictures.
Target Language

The Memory Picture ESL activity is great for practising descriptions with beginner or low intermediate students. Target language could include there is/are (or there was/were) structures, prepositions of place, and the present continuous or past continuous for activities. Adapt the activity to your level/specific target language by choosing a picture with appropriate details/vocabulary.

This activity works particularly well with kids, who will enjoy the creative component. With kids, you could ask that they include colours too, and/or the clothes people are wearing. Putting all the different versions of the same picture on the wall could make a great classroom display.

For a similar activity without the memory element, try Describing Pictures.

Got a picture or video of this activity in action? How about snapping one next time you use it? We'd love to showcase your submissions- find out more here.