Lesson idea: ‘used to’ for describing past appearance

I made this activity up in class and it worked well! Really creative, loads of interesting language, and also a good way to practice ‘used to’ for describing past appearance.


  • Students work in pairs
  • Everyone has some scrap paper (or the back of their handout). Tell students they have 1 minute to draw their partner. 1 minute only.
  • So, Student A has drawn student B, right? Now, Student As swap drawings with each other. Student Bs swap too. They have one minute to add loads of random features onto each drawing. Random things like strange tattoos, unicorn horns (!), I don’t know… anything they want. Then they give the sketch back to the original artist.
  • Pause for some laughter
  • So, Student A now has a distorted sketch of their partner, Student B. Tell them that this is what their partner looked like 10 years ago. Back then, Student A and Student B were old schoolmates… They haven’t seen each other in ages!
  • Board part of a dialogue, like this…

A: OMG! Is that…? No! It can’t be… [Student B’s name]?! Wow! It is you!!!!

B: No way! [Student A’s name]! It’s been ages!

Add a bit of natural convo first like ‘what are you up to these days?’ if you want

A: You look so different! I mean…. your hair is much shorter. I remember you used to have really long hair…

B: Yeah, well I had to get that cut when I… (er…) joined the army

A: Wow, cool! The army huh?


  • Students use their ‘old’ drawings as prompts. This is like improv style, Student B has to just go with the conversation and explain why they made certain changes.

There were some really crazy dialogues. Great drawings too…

The real student doesn’t look much like this! Well, maybe a bit…

(Thanks to my students for giving me permission to use these drawings)

Categories: grammar, Lesson Ideas

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1 reply

  1. Good one! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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