Mobile Version | Print-Friendly Version
June 2013
Forward to a Friend  |  RSS Feeds  |  Archives  |   Follow us on TwitterLike us on FacebookFollow us on LinkedIn

TC Quick Tip: 5 Beginning Grammar Activities With Food Packages
by Elena Shvidko

Audience: Beginning-level students

Do you get rid of food packages once they become empty? You most likely do—but these packages can be recycled as very effective teaching materials.  Technically, any package will do: a cereal box, a cookies package, a can, or a chips bag.  With these items, you can create many purposeful, engaging, and fun activities for your classes; here are five grammar activities to get you started.

1. Practicing Quantifiers (Activity 1)
Quantifiers present a great deal of challenge for English language learners, but food packages can be an excellent tool for practicing these linguistic items.

Give each student a food package (use different types of packages that you have collected).  Pair students up and have them ask each other the following questions:

  • Is there a lot of fat in your food? 
  • Does your food have few/many calories? 
  • Is there any saturated fat in your food?
  • How much cholesterol is in your food? 
  • Does your food have little fat?

Alternatively, you can ask similar questions to the whole class: 

  • Whose food has only a little fat? 
  • Whose food doesn’t have any cholesterol?

2. Practicing Quantifiers (Activity 2)
For this activity, students once again work with a partner. Each student has a package with a recipe on the back of it (works best with packages from cookies or cakes mixes). The students will write down a list of the ingredients from that recipe without the quantity and give this list to their partner.  The partner has to ask questions in order to find out the quantity of the ingredients for that particular recipe. Then, the students switch roles and repeat this activity. 

Student 1: How many eggs do I need to make these cookies?
Student 2: You need three eggs.
Student 1: How much jam should I put?
Student 2: You should only add a little jam, perhaps 3 tablespoons.

3. Practicing Descriptions and Quantifiers
Pair your students up. One student will describe nutrition facts of the product on his or her package and the other student will evaluate it and estimate its healthiness. They have to use the words fat, calories, cholesterol, vitamins, protein and the quantifiers few, a few, much, a lot, little, many, etc.

4. Practicing Verb Tenses and Imperatives
Using the recipe on the package, students can practice the past and future tenses and the imperative form of verbs. Ask students to read the instructions on their recipes and underline all the verbs in the imperative form. Then, in groups, they will describe the cooking process to each other, by using either the future or past tense. For example, I took I mixed… or I will takeI will mix

5. Practicing Comparative Degrees of Adjectives
Students can also practice comparative degrees of adjectives (in small groups or in pairs) by comparing their products. For example, “This product is healthier (more delicious, more nutritious) because ___________.” Or, “This meal is easier (more difficult to prepare) because ________________.”

Nowadays, there are lots of excellent resources for language teachers. However, we must not forget the “old-school” materials that are easily accessible and most of the times free of charge.  I hope that some of the suggestions presented here will generate more ideas for your own classes.  Let your imagination guide you!

Download this article (PDF) 

Enjoy this article?
Check out Elena's TESOL blog on second language writing!


Elena Shvidko is a PhD student in SLS/ESL at Purdue University where she also teaches freshmen composition courses.  Her academic interests include sociocultural aspects in SLA, intercultural rhetoric, and WAP.


Next Article
Post a Comment
Share LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
 Rate This Article
Print This ArticleForward This Article
Table of Contents
TC Homepage
Lesson Plan: Student Presentations
Games to Motivate Writing Students
Activity for Teaching Intonation
Quick Tip: Grammar Activities
Free TQ Article
Association News
Job Link
U.S. Embassy ESL/EFL Projects, U.S. Department of State English Language Fellow Program, Worldwide

Disney English Foreign Trainer, Disney English, Multiple cities in China

Full-Time Lecturer, Department of Linguistics (TESOL area), Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Illinois, USA

Lecturer (non-tenure-track), Southern Illinois University, Rural

U.S. Embassy Projects - Senior Fellow, U.S. Department of State English Language Fellow Program, Worldwide

Want to post your open positions to Job Link? Click here.

To browse all of TESOL's job postings, check out the TESOL Career Center.




TESOL Connections is the newsletter of TESOL International Association
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

Active TESOL members may read current and recent issues of TESOL Connections online at Inclusion in TESOL Connections does not constitute an endorsement by TESOL.

For article guidelines:
For questions about TESOL Connections:
For questions about copyright or permission:
For advertising:

TESOL International Association
1925 Ballenger Avenue, Suite 550 Alexandria, VA 22314-6820 USA
Tel. +1 703.836.0774
Fax: +1 703.836.7864
E-mail: (general information)