Lesson idea: activities for short videos

I use a lot of videos in class these days. There’s no shortage of inspiration for film lessons online, and a bit in print too. We received a funnybonescopy of Film in Action last June, which Martin Sketchley reviewed here. This book (plus the accompanying website, Film English) has great resources and ideas for using videos in class. There are some other brilliant sites to bookmark – notably All.at.C and Vocabulary in Chunks, which choose some great clips to build lessons around! The best resource I’ve ever come across for using movies in class was Shrek in the ESL Classroom by Brian Boyd (of Grammarman fame). When I create my own video resources I often find myself delving into this booklet.

Anyway, here’s something I made recently. It’s based on a classic kids cartoon called Funnybones (which were great books too). I used it with my 10 year olds during Halloween and it went down well.

This post is less about the actual video, and more about showing some example activities to use with short film clips. I hope it gives you some ideas for making your own lessons using videos, especially with YLs.

Here’s the clip:

Lead in

The video is about Skeletons, so I started with some fun facts about bones:

True or False: There are 207 bones in the human body (False)

True or False: Humans are born with about 300 bones (True)

True or False: The longest bone in our body is in the arm (False)

True or False: The smallest bone in our body is in the ear (True)

How many bones are there in our hands, fingers and wrists (54)

We need calcium to help keep our bones healthy. Where do we get it from (Dairy food, Seafood, Greens)

Then I did a quick hangman for the word Skeleton. We had a quick discussion on a few questions, including: are skeletons scary? Has anyone ever broken a bone? Etc. I showed them the picture at the top of the post and they made a few guesses about the story.

Activities for the video:

0.00 – 0.35 seconds WITHOUT SOUND

Students sit back to back. One is able to watch the video, their partner can’t.

Give the student who can’t see the video this list of words:


Their partner watches the first 35 seconds of the clip with NO SOUND. They describe as much as they can about what’s happening. Any time they say one of the words above, their partner ticks it off/circles it.

Students swap places. Repeat the activity, giving the listening student this new list:


The student who has the most ticks after this activity is the winner.

0.00 – 0.35 seconds WITH SOUND

Give students this gap fill task:


Answers: town, street, street, house, house, stairs, stairs, cellar, cellar, big, little, dog

General orientation to the rest of the video:

The episode is called ‘The Pet Shop’.

The skeletons go to a pet shop to buy different pets.

Make 4 guesses: what pets will they buy? Write your answers on the board


0.35 – 1.28

Gist: watch and answer the question.

Why are the skeletons unhappy with dog?

What are they going to do?

(Answers: dog digs holes and barks, they’re going to swap him at the pet shop)

You might need to pre-teach for the next task: wag, snore, etc.

Students complete the sentences below based on the video. They put each sentence in the present continuous (as we’d been studying this recently):


Now students watch the video again, and decide the order in which each action appears. The order is 6, 1, 4, 3, 2, 5


1.28 – 1.58

Observation challenge:


(Answers: fish, hat and pencil, Big and Little, green, under the desk)



Gist: What’s wrong with the goldfish? (it’s boring)

Watch again, giving the students this part of the script:


The script is wrong. Students watch, listen and correct the script. Answers:


2.25 – 3.01

Students watch the next part of the video where the skeletons get a parrot. Go back to their ideas on the board and see if anyone has guessed the right pets so far.

Then give students this list of words, cut up:


They watch the video and put the words in the order they appear. The order above is correct.

Then ask the students to remember who said each line. They should organise the words in to 3 groups – Little, Big and Parrot:


Before the next part of the video, ask students to discuss:

Which pet should the skeletons get next? Why?

Allow students to watch the video 3.01 – 4.16


3.59 – 4.16

Get students to transcribe the conversation between Little, Big and Mr. Bonehead:


Final task: what will the final pet be? (it’s Dog)

Students watch the end of the video.

After the video I got the students to:

  1. perform the story
  2. Storyboard the video (to be completed for homework)

It worked very well, although some tasks were too easy so I need to improve them a bit! Anyway, even if you don’t use these activities, I hope they have given you some ideas for making your own tasks based around a video. Enjoy!

p.s. If you do want the activities for this video in their most basic form, here they are with the script too.

Categories: Lesson Ideas, videos

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

5 replies

  1. Thanks so much for the reference to my blog in the post.


  2. Great ideas, Pete. Have added this to my list of things to try out next time I get a group of YLs.
    Thanks for mentioning our blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great ideas Pete, and thanks for reminding me about that Shrek booklet – I used it once many years ago and the students loved it!
    Happy New Year!


  4. Thank you soooo much for the great ideas! Although I teach Spanish, these are wonderful ideas that I can apply when making my own tasks!

    Liked by 1 person

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