Posted 31/5/11

This lesson plan demonstrates how we can use drawing to seed language emergence.
  • Language level: Elementary – Intermediate (A2 – B1)
  • Learner type: Young learners; Teens; Adults
  • Time: 35 minutes (+ Follow up)
  • Activity: Drawing; Writing sentences
  • Topic: Stereotypes; Men and women
  • Language: Expressing reason; Present perfect; Present continuous; ‘Going to’
  • Materials: Materials free
Reasons for buying flowers pdf [downloaded 4506 times]

Lesson plan outline

Note: This activity will work best for classes of 6 or more students.
  1. Give every student in the class a scrap piece of paper.
  2. Divide the class into two groups.
  3. Tell Group A that you would like them to draw a picture of a woman buying flowers. Tell Group B that you would like them to draw a picture of a man buying flowers.
  4. Note: Some of your students may be reluctant artists. If so, let them know that you don’t expect masterpieces – just quick sketches. One way to get students started is to lead by example – draw a picture of your own on the board – the simpler, the better.
  5. Ask everyone to give their flower buyer a name. Students should write the names on their drawings.
  6. Each student is going to think of a reason why his/her flower buyer is buying flowers. Ask all members of Group A to work together and all members of Group B to work together. Group members should share ideas and make sure that no one in the group chooses the same reason.
  7. Note: This collaborative process ensures diversity of ideas and more importantly, language. Without the collaboration, it is possible that too many students will focus on the obvious reasons for buying flowers – Valentine’s Day, for example.
  8. Ask everyone to write their reason for buying flowers on the reverse sides of their drawings (i.e. the blank, non-picture sides). They should write a single sentence that starts like this:
  9. [Flower buyer’s name] is buying flowers because …
  10. Circulate and offer help and corrections as your student write their sentences. See Comment below for information about a possible grammar focus.
  11. Ask students from Group A to mingle with students from Group B. Ask them to show their drawings to each other, introduce their characters and say why they are buying flowers.
  12. Example: This is Miriam. She is buying flowers because she has bought a new flat and wants to decorate it.
  13. Take all drawings from your learners to prepare Follow up 1 (see below).

Follow up 1

Before the next class, remodel students’ sentences where necessary (i.e. offer corrections or alternative ways of expressing their ideas). Scan or photograph all of their drawings and then create a slideshow in which each image is followed by the character’s reason for buying flowers (See video at the top of the page for an example.) Slideshows can be made using PowerPoint or film-editing software (e.g. Windows Movie Maker or iMovie).

Create a gap fill exercise to draw students’ attention to structural aspects of language in the sentences, especially present perfect and structures with ‘going to’. For example:

In the next class, give out the gap fill and ask students to complete it. Following this, show students the slide show and let them check their answers.

Follow up 2

Refer students back to their drawings. Ask them to identify generalisations that they made about the different reasons for men and women buying flowers (Recall that Group A students drew women and Group B students drew men.) Turn this into a class discussion or a writing activity about generalisations and stereotypes.


Before the writing stage (step 6) you may want to clarify the structures that the activity has a natural relationship with:

The present perfect

  • Reasons before now
  • María is buying flowers because she has fallen in love.

Structures with ‘going to’

  • Reasons after now
  • Jeremy is buying flowers because he is going to visit his mother (‘going to’ + verb).
  • Jeremy is buying flowers because he is going to a wedding (‘going to’ + place/event).

The sentence writing can then be made more restrictive. For a group of 8 students for example, tell them that between them, they have to construct: 

  • 4 sentences with present perfect structures
  • 2 sentences with ‘going to’ + verb structures
  • 2 sentences with ‘going to’ + place/event structures


    Try this same activity with different scenarios. Bear in mind, however, that different scenarios will give rise to different grammar structures. Some examples:

    • A man/woman is looking out of the window.
    • A man/woman is buying a rubber chicken.
    • A man/woman is sitting in the middle of the road.
    • A man/woman is running to the toilet.

    Image credits

    All of these images came from the same class – a particularly artistic group. But sorry – I have completely forgotten which class it was. Can anyone help? The image at the very top of the screen was done by a professional – Nicolás Dionis who also produced two illustrations for my OUP book on images.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Last Friday, a woman from Barcelona bought flowers for some policemen. You can see her distributing the flowers at the end of the clip below:

    Posted 31/5/11

    22 Responses to Reasons for buying flowers

    1. Daniel says:

      The last time I bought flowers was for Jo, my wife, because she really likes flowers and I love her lots. (Actually, they were from Rosie, my daughter, but I paid for them). They were yellow gerberas, I think!

      Another variation, then, is to talk about the last time you bought flowers.

    2. Jamie Keddie says:

      Nice idea Dan
      We could also talk about the first time you ever bought flowers. For me, the first time I ever bought flowers – I actually stole them out of my garden to give to a girl called Lorna. She wasn’t too impressed I seem to remember. And then I got into trouble from my mum. I think I was 17 at the time.
      Reasons *not* to steal flowers!

    3. Rodrigo Campos R. says:

      I loved… It’s a good idea!

    4. Clare Bromfield says:

      Why not use past, present and future tenses + justifications? Great for GCSE practice (for French): J’ai achete des fleurs pour ma mere parce qu’elle etait malade. Je vais acheter des fleurs pour Cheryl Cole parce qu’elle est belle etc.
      A great task for differentiation by outcome: thanks!

    5. Jamie Keddie says:

      Thanks Clare
      Great suggestion!
      Jamie :-)

    6. Fede Berton says:

      Hey Jamie! Great activities! I always use your ideas when teaching! I’m from Argentina! I’m in third year of the English Teaching Training Course, yeah I’m not a full teacher yet, but I will for sure! I’ve just created my little blog! I’m just a starting with Teach-nology! I love working with videos on youtube! I always use them when I have to introduce a new topic or vocabulary! Let’s keep in touch!!! See u!!

    7. Jamie Keddie says:

      Nice to meet you Fede
      Good luck with the blogging
      Jamie :-)

    8. Kudret says:

      thank you a lot. It’s a really good activity.

    9. Jamie Keddie says:

      Thank you Kudret :-)

    10. lucila q.barbosa says:

      You really gave me a reason for continuing teaching and doing a good job.
      Thanks a lot.

    11. Eniko says:

      I have already bought and sent a virtual bouquet of flowers to you,
      Jamie, for this activity. My florist student was over the moon. :-)))

      Another student wanted to know song’s title and the name of the
      singer. She was captured by the voice and the guitar. Tried to google
      it, haven’t found it. Can you help me?

    12. Jamie Keddie says:

      Ha ha – English for flower sellers – I like the idea!
      The song is by a band called the Bacon Brothers.
      It’s on the iTunes music store as well.
      I found the song using YouTube’s ‘Audioswap’ function. I must make a video to demonstrate that sometime. It’s very useful.
      Thank you Eniko and say hello to your florist student.
      Jamie :-)

    13. Eniko says:

      Have a look at this:

      Hope you like it, my student did. :-) Use it, if you want. And of course, my students says ‘Thank you, Jamie’ , too. And she really means it.

    14. Jamie Keddie says:

      Wow – I’ve never seen that site. Thank you for sharing it Eniko.
      Jamie :-)

    15. Jacek says:

      Jamie, that’s a brilliant activity, tried it with my students of different levels of proficiency and it works really good. The trick behind it is, in my opinion, its simplicity and multi-level applicability. The reason students come up with helps to elicit some good language (and spot the students’ weaknesses too). So, we receive a good number of sentences based on the reasons and give our students on the spot “hot feedback”. My favourite. I saw you present it to a large audience at IATEFL conference in Poland :-). Works well form A2-B2 CEFR.

    16. Jamie Keddie says:

      Hey Jacek
      Great feedback to get. Thank you for the comment.
      Hope all is well in Poland. Hope to come back soon.
      Jamie :)

    17. Denise says:

      Love it ! I’m in week 2 of a CELTA course, and I’m a florist by day. AND it’s the day after Valentine’s Day !
      When I’ve completed the course, I thought that I might combine my interests by teaching English to foreign florists coming to work here in Melbourne, Australia !
      I think I’ve got my first activity to file away for future reference .
      Thank you for that.

    18. Jamie Keddie says:

      Hello Denise
      That is incredibly timely!
      Most people get into ELT through something completely unrelated but you are the first florist that I have ever come across!
      Good to meet you. Good luck on the CELTA.
      Jamie :)

    19. Ingrid says:

      My A2 class loved this, funnily enough there was no stereotyping from my mostly Spanish class so had to miss out on that part of the lesson – who knew!!! This was a great activity, taking them out of their comfort zone and challenging them. I struggled to make them more inventive and they really insisted on buying flowers for mothers, girlfriends, sisters etc. but no matter, it was great practice for ‘going to’ ( it would have been too much of a challenge to include present perfect as well) . The reaction the next lesson when I put up the Powerpoint with their drawings was priceless. They clapped at the end of the class… so take a bow Jamie. :)

    20. Jamie Keddie says:

      No stereotyping! What’s wrong with the world?
      Thanks for your comment Ingrid. I am happy to hear that the activity went well. Take a curtsey!
      Jamie :)

    21. alexandra oliveira says:

      Hi, Jamie! Thanks for the brilliant talk you gave last December in Lisbon!
      Your site is great and the activities very inspiring – hope to try some of them with my students.
      Now, about this lesson on buying flowers, I must tell you that in Portugal “red carnations” have a political and historical meaning since the “Carnation Revolution” on 25th April 1974. On that day while the troops were in the streets carrying out the uprising that put end to a long-lasting dictatorship someone started giving out flowers to the soldiers who put them into their rifles. Pure “Flower Power”!

      • Jamie Keddie says:

        Hello Alexandra
        Thanks for this. What a diverse relationship we have with flowers, eh? Yet another reason.
        Thanks for sharing
        Hope to see you at APPI
        Jamie :)