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Credit for the idea for this lesson plan must go to Anna Musielak, in yet another example of Twitter to the rescue:

Last night, I tweeted that, because my college had been closed due to snow, I had no idea what I was going to teach today. Luckily, Lika was on hand for some help with my Entry 1 class (beginner to elementary level) and some ideas for snow related activities, and Anna helped with a great suggestion for my upper-intermediate students in the afternoon.

Here’s how I set up the theft of a snowman role-play:

  • I wrote the word snow in big letters on the board and asked my students to write words or phrases they associate with it; there followed a brief discussion, asking them to explain the choices behind some of their words or phrases
  • I then handed out the following word cloud with words from this news story reported recently on the BBC News website: Woman dials 999 to report snowman theft in Kent

  • I asked my students to think of sentences using words in the word cloud to predict what the story was all about
  • Then I showed them this word cloud, with words from the headline, and asked them to rearrange the words:

  • I then played audio from the story (available at the BBC link above, and there is also a video version on YouTube – see below)
  • We then discussed the woman’s use of language, and revised the students’ suggested sentences

Role play

I assigned the role play in three parts. Students were one of the following: the snowman’s maker, the snowman himself, or the snowman’s kidnapper. I had 9 students for this activity, so I had three students playing each role. First of all, students were grouped with others playing the same role. I asked them to think about what they wanted from the situation (e.g. the snowman wanting to be reunited with his maker or not, the kidnapper demanding a ransom, etc.). They had about 15 minutes to draft up a backstory and think about what they would say for the next stage.

Students were then regrouped so that there was one snowman, one snowman maker and one kidnapper in each group. I then gave them 10 minutes to resolve the situation (they did it in 5!)

The lesson was rounded off by a quick dictogloss activity using this text as a basis:

A woman from Kent dialled 999 to report the theft of a snowman. She thought the police were needed as she used coins for eyes. She noticed the snowman had been stolen when she went out to have a cigarette. The police informed her about what a 999 call was for.


The first part of this lesson wasn’t as successful as I had hoped – I sometimes find it hard to motivate this group; however, I think this might be due to the fact that it is an afternoon class and they’re tired – hmmm. The role play prep and actually doing it was slightly better, and there was some inspired work from the more ‘awake’ students.