In the Memory Picture ESL activity, students work together to draw a picture from memory.
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.
- Project the image on the wall/board.
- 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!
- When the time is up, remove the image from view.
- 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.
- 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!
- Finally, reveal the image again and compare the pictures.
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.