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12 fun MAKE and DO speaking activities

By Alex Case
Stimulating verb + noun collocations with “make” and “do” classroom activities

Although many textbooks include some practice contrasting “make” and “do”, such exercises tend to be short, uncommunicative and/ or uninteresting. This article gives some more stimulating ideas.

Make and do personalised guessing game

Students choose an expression with make or do that they can use to talk about their life like “my bed” or “some paperwork” and give hints on which one they have chosen like “I try to make this in the morning but sometimes don’t have time” and “I hate doing this” until their partner guesses what it is. Like these examples, students should be encouraged to use the correct choice of “make” or “do” in the hints.

Make and do bluffing game

Students choose an expression with make or do that could be used to talk about their life, selecting at random from a pack of cards, numbered list, etc. They make a personal sentence using that expression as quickly as they can, using their imagination if they can’t think of anything true. Perhaps after asking follow-up questions, their partner then guesses if the statement is true or not.

Make and do ranking activities

Make lists of expressions with make and do which can be ranked by how difficult they are, how important they are, how often people usually do them, etc, then ask the students to work together to put them in order.  

Make and do problems and solutions

Students discuss solutions to problems that the teacher has created with do and make in them such as “My son always does his homework really quickly and sloppily so he has time to watch TV before dinner” and “I want to BLANK up with my girlfriend but she’s already found another guy”.

Make and do roleplays

Roleplays can be made to practise these verbs by having roleplay cards with make and do in the descriptions (“You want the other person to do you a big favour”) or by designing roleplays on topics that tend to bring up these verbs (morning routines, chores, etc).

Make and do strangers on a train

Make a pack of cards which each have an expression with make or do which is useful to learn but not so common in everyday conversation, such as “do research” and “make a mistake”. Students try to both slip the phrase that they were given naturally into a conversation and to spot which expression their partner tried to do the same thing with.

Make and do storytelling activities

Students try to use as many make and do expressions as they can to tell a story such as “On Monday, I made a huge mistake. When I was doing the accounts, I added some extra zeroes to the end of one of the figures, so it looked like we made a loss of billions of dollars instead of thousands of dollars” etc. When they have put their stories together, they can tell the story to someone else, or someone else can try to guess their story from the phrases they chose. Note that some make and do expressions are not suitable for stories, so the ones you give them will need to be chosen carefully.

Good and taboo make and do questions

Make a list of personal questions include make and do, including both normal ones like “Are you doing any courses at the moment?” and strange ones to ask each other like “Are you making much money?” These can be used in several ways:

  • students try to avoid the weird questions as they ask each other only the reasonable ones
  • students rank the questions from 1 for ordinary to 5 for completely taboo, then get more points if they choose to answer more difficult questions and then don’t decline to answer them
  • students play the ask and tell game below, choosing any question but then flipping a coin to see if they can ask it to someone else (heads) or have to answer it themselves (tails, for “tell”)

Make and do ask and tell

Students take turns choosing a make or do expression (perhaps from a pack of cards) and asking personal questions based on that, e.g. “What’s the last big mistake that you made?” or “If someone made a small mistake with your bill in a restaurant, would you point it out?” for “(make a) mistake”. They then flip a coin to decide if they can ask that question to someone else in their group (heads) or if they have to answer their own question (tails). This means that they can ask any question they like, but they shouldn’t ask too personal questions just in case they have to share that information about themselves.

Make and do coin games

As well as the ask and tell game above, flipping a coin can be used to decide if students should use make (heads) or do (tails) to:

  • find things in common with each other (“We both make scrambled eggs in the morning”)
  • guess things about their partner (“You want to do a postgraduate degree”)
  • make a true or false sentence for their partner to guess the truth of

They could also flip one more time to decide if the sentences should be positive (heads) or negative (tails), e.g. that they should find something in common with “not do” if they get tails twice in a row.

Make and do things in common

As well as using a coin to decide what they should find in common, students could choose suitable expressions from a worksheet like “make an arrangement” and “do someone a favour”, perhaps with points for:

  • using a phrase that none of the other groups found something in common with
  • making sentences that other people in the class also have in common
  • making sentences that only the people in their group share

Make and do personal guessing

As well as with a coin as described above, guessing what the other person makes and does can work with phrases that they pick at random from a pack of cards or worksheet (as long as you also allow negative sentences like “You’ve never done someone else’s make up”).

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Written by Alex Case for Tefl.NET January 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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