Materials Required: puzzle pieces (from an actual puzzle or a cut and laminated image)
The objects of this ESL ice breaker activity are both teamwork (to create the puzzle) and a review of common vocabulary, such as colours, shapes, and common objects. Before class, you should either prepare a puzzle with enough pieces for each student to have one or two, or print an image which you cut into the correct number of pieces and laminate. The former is easier, but the latter gives you much more flexibility and you can cut the pieces as large as you like.
In order for students to put the puzzle together correctly, they will need to be able to describe their piece to others as they mingle looking for adjacent pieces, as well as listen to others’ descriptions.
If you are using a ready-made puzzle, a child’s puzzle will have the right combination of large size and a low number of pieces. If you choose your own image, you can print the pieces even larger, making it easier to work together.
To make the task more challenging, have students describe their pieces to one another, rather than show them. To make the task less challenging, have two puzzles (fewer edgeless pieces) or use an image with obvious elements, for example, a picture of a park, rather than a Picasso.
- In advance, either get a puzzle with enough pieces for each student to have one or two (so, no 500 piece monster puzzles) or print an image (A3 or larger), cut it into the right number of pieces, and laminate it.
Give each student a puzzle piece or two, and instruct them to work together to complete the puzzle.
According to the level of the students, allow them to show each other the pieces as they work or require them to describe the shape of their piece and the image fragment.
Here’s a Statue of Liberty puzzle that you can use in your classes. Click the link below to get the PDF file:
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