8 Fun Gradable and Extreme Adjectives Controlled Practice Activities

By Alex Case
Drilling games for gradable and extreme adjectives like “big/ huge” and “nice/ lovely”

Extreme adjectives like “fabulous” and “revolting” are not only fun to learn and use, but can also be memorised in extremely entertaining ways. This article gives eight ideas on how to make sure pairs like “bad” and “awful” really stick in students’ minds.

Gradable and extreme adjectives TPR

Students mime adverb + adjective combinations like “really excited” and “absolutely thrilled”. Perhaps after working together to come up with the best mimes, one student mimes all levels of adverb + adjective, then picks one and acts it out again for their partner to guess. For example, one person mimes “not very happy”, “fairly happy”, “very happy” and “absolutely delighted”, then does the second action again for their partner to guess “fairly happy”.

Gradable and extreme adjectives Pictionary

Students compete to make the best drawings to represent “slightly hot”, “absolutely furious”, etc, and/ or draw one combination for their partner to guess.

Gradable and extreme adjectives sounds games

This is similar to the miming and drawing games above, but with students making noises like crying a little and retching to represent “rather sad”, “absolutely revolting”, etc.

Gradable and extreme adjectives tennis

Students test each other on pairs like “Hot” “Boiling” and “Small” “Tiny” as they send a ball back and forth, with the server testing the other person by saying the gradable form. Variations include using a balloon or toy car instead of a ball, using an imaginary ball, and scoring like particular sports such as volleyball or badminton.

It’s also possible to play this game with opposites, e.g. returning with “freezing” if the other person says “boiling”, with the pairs needing to be both gradable or both extreme (so that they really are antonyms).

Gradable and extreme adjectives dominoes

From the pairs of gradable and extreme adjectives that you want students to learn, make dominoes with the extreme of one pair on the left and the gradable of another pair on the right (“fascinating/ boring”, etc). After working together to put all the domino cards together in a big circle, students could also deal out the cards and play an actual game of dominoes.

Gradable and extreme adjectives reversi

Make around 15 to 20 cards with gradable adjectives on one side and matching extreme adjectives on the other. Students spread them across the table, either side up. One student tries to guess or remember what is on the other side of as many cards as they can, stopping whenever they make a mistake. Correctly guessed cards stay the other way up to be guessed in the opposite direction next time.

It is also possible to play this game with opposites on either side, e.g. one card with “awful” on one side and “excellent” on the other, and another card with “bad” and “good” on it.

Gradable and extreme adjectives pairs

This is based on the common card game Pairs/ Pelmanism/ The Memory Game, in which students need to find cards which match from a pack spread face down across the table. This takes too long if you ask students to match individual cards like “pretty” with “gorgeous”. Instead, students make a match and can keep the two cards if they can find two gradable adjectives or if they are able to locate two extreme adjectives, e.g. choosing both “filthy” and “(cram-)packed”.

Gradable and extreme adjectives random pelmanism

This is similar to the game above, but with students coming up with their own ideas for suitable adjectives. Make a pack of cards out of vocabulary that you want to revise or introduce, and/ or with things that could match adjectives that you want to practise (e.g. “vanilla” if you want students to use “boring”). One student turns over two of those cards so that they are face up, then must try to use any pair of gradable and extreme adjectives that they can to describe them, e.g. “Most buckets are ugly, but a naked mole rat is absolutely hideous” if the cards are ”bucket” and “rat”.

Written by Alex Case for Tefl.NET June 2024
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic and the Teaching...: Interactive Classroom Activities series of business and exam skills e-books for teachers
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