Posted 24/9/11

In this activity, students begin with a stress pattern and have to find phrases that fit it. The lesson plan uses a song from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. The song is My Favorite Things and it works so well because it has been written in triple time. In other words, it is a waltz: it conforms to a consistent one-two-three-one-two-three pattern. Throughout the lyrics, all strong syllables fall on the ‘one’ while weak syllables fall on the ‘two‘ or ‘three‘ (‘Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.’)
  • Language level: Intermediate (B1) +
  • Learner type: Young learners; Teens; Adults
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Activity: Vocabulary game
  • Topic: Rhythm in English songs
  • Language: Pronunciation; Stress patterns
  • Materials: Images; Song
My favorite things pdf [downloaded 4596 times]

Lesson plan outline

For this activity, you will need 5 images. Use an image search engine to find pictures to represent the following:

  1. Write the following stress pattern on the board:
  2. O o o O o

    Drill a few phrases that demonstrate the sound of the stress pattern. For example:

    • Quarter past seven
    • Mary and Joseph
    • Where are you going?
    • What are you doing?
    • Everyone thinks so
    • Isn’t she lovely?
    • Monday and Tuesday
  3. Tell students that you are going to show them 4 images. For each image, they should write down what they see (they can do this in pairs if they like). Importantly, the phrases that they write should consist of 5 syllables and conform to the above stress pattern (OooOo).
  4. Note: This activity works well if students have access to bilingual dictionaries. This will allow them to find unfamiliar words that are key to the activity (whiskers, kettle, mittens, etc.)
  5. Show the images one by one. Give students enough time to think of a phrase. Once everyone has an answer, invite students to share and compare what they wrote.
  6. Tell students that there is one more image. In describing it, they will have to produce a phrase that follows the following stress pattern:
  7. O o o O o o O o o O

    (i.e. ‘Brown paper packages tied up with strings’)

  8. Show image and let students write their phrases as before. Compare answers.
  9. Tell students that you are going to give them the answers. Play the first verse of My Favorite Things two or three times.
  10. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
    Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
    Brown paper packages tied up with strings
    These are a few of my favorite things
  11. Ask students to write down the words that they hear and ask everyone to sing the verse.

Follow up

Ask students to write their own personal ‘Favorite Things’ verses. This can be as free or as restricted as you want to make it. For example, you could ask students to keep the exact same stress pattern as before (see box below). Alternatively, let students be free with what they write.

O o o O o and
O o o O o
O o o O o and
O o o O o
O o o O o o O o o O
These are a few of my favorite things

This might be a good opportunity to practise or clarify the use of –ing forms as nouns (gerunds) as teacher Gina André demonstrates on her blog.

Posted 24/9/11

29 Responses to My favorite things

  1. Hanna says:

    What a brilliant idea:) I love that song so I’m gonna use this activity as soon as possible but i’m not sure whether my voice is as clear as yours ;) I will do my best. Thank you, Jamie.

  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Of course it is Hanna! Good Luck
    Jamie :-)

  3. gita says:

    Hi Jamie,
    Sound of Music is one of my most favourite films and I watched your lesson plan with great interest. I am hoping to apply this in one of my classes. It’s a very good way to make students come up with ideas for putting words together to catch a special rhythm.
    Best of luck! gita

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Good luck Gita.
    Let me/us know how you get on.
    Jamie :-)

  5. Marcin says:

    Hi! I’ve been doing lessons based on that song before Christams for some years. I like your ideas and I’ll definitely use tham as a lead-in. My favourite version of that song is Peter Cincotti’s ( I can share the PDF copy of my lesson if you want. Thx for your resourceful website. Marcin

  6. Jamie Keddie says:

    Excellent version Marcin. It really hammers the stress patterns that this activity examines. Thank you very much for sharing it.
    Jamie :-)

  7. Cova says:

    Thank you Jamie for sharing this fantastic and challenging activity!
    My students really enjoyed it and now they are writing their own verses taking into account the order of adjectives . This is also a great activity to work on that matter ;)

  8. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Cova
    Excellent idea – a good focus suggestion.
    Thank you for sharing

  9. Catherine McFarlane says:

    Really enjoyed this Jamie! Great idea! Can I steal it and give you credit in a CELTA pron session?

  10. Jamie Keddie says:

    Of course you can Catherine – it would be an honour!
    Jamie :-)

  11. Despina says:

    Hi Jamie!!!!

    what an excellent idea :)

    I really enjoyed your lesson and I’m looking forward to doing it in class… only I’ll try to find a french version.. I’m a french teacher…..:) would you know if this song exists in french too?

    anyway.. thank you soooo much for your sharing it with us :)


  12. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Despina
    Thank you for your comment. Not sure if there is a French version unfortunately, although I did find these lyrics:
    Perhaps you could use a different song – a French waltz with lyrics???
    Jamie :-)

  13. Despina says:

    Hi Jamie :)

    I was inspired from your lesson and I’ve chosen a french song “Je ne veux pas travailler” of Edith Piaf (you may know her..- and I decided to work with the rhythm of the refrain… Let’s see how it goes. Thanks again for your help..

    Unfortunately the french version of your song doesn’t adapt well to the music .. and I didn’t find a waltz with french lyrics suitable for the level of my students…

    the idea is to work with the rhythm, don’t you think?


  14. Jamie Keddie says:

    Good song Despina
    Don’t forget that English might work better for this type of activity than French. Music can serve to demonstrate the syllable-timed nature of English and there is an element of that in the ‘favourite things’ lesson plan.
    Good luck
    Jamie :-)

  15. Shane Doherty says:

    Hi Jamie,
    You´re really inspirational, I´m impressed with your website and your ideas, I’m going to try some of them with my kids classes and see how they work.I’ll let you know.
    Shane (Spain)

  16. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Shane
    You are a gentleman for saying so. Hope the activities work. I’m always curious to know how they work for others. If you feel brave, film yourself. You can’t beat being a fly on the wall!
    Jamie :)

  17. Santi says:

    Lovely activity, great song. And fantastic video with the teacher working on sentence stress. As a teacher, I have never found these activities easy to teach, at least in secondary schools, which is where I work. Thanks.

  18. Jamie Keddie says:

    Great to hear that it was helpful Santi
    Thanks for the comment
    Jamie :-)

  19. Carla says:

    Excellent idea! thanks for sharing! Enormously useful!!

  20. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks Carla :-)

  21. Lucrecia says:

    I enjoyed it so much! This is what the art of teaching is about!

  22. Hi Jamie! Thank you for your exellent idea. Our favorite things are here

  23. JUAN MOLINA says:

    Great class! I have used it with my ESL students here in Medellìn-Colombia and they have enjoyed it a lot. Thank you for sharing this wonderful activity. Juan

  24. Jamie Keddie says:

    You are welcome Juan!
    Thank you very much for your nice comment
    Jamie :)

  25. Josée says:

    Hi Jamie, you’re a wonderful teacher!! Congratulations!

    All the best

    Josée (Belgium)

  26. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Josée
    Great to see you in Harrogate. Hope to see you again in Manchester (or before).
    Hugs from Barcelona
    Jamie :)

  27. Eva says:

    Hi, Jamie!
    I have to confess something. A fellow teacher recommended this activity, but I wasn’t sure it would work for me and my students, I thought it could be too complicated. In the end, she insisted so much, she even sent me ready to use pictures, the song, the notes, everything I needed, so I tried.
    I followed your notes, Jamie, from the beginning to the end, giving them a lot of help with the pictures, they were too difficult to guess. We even sang the whole song like four times, they were enjoying, and on the spur of the moment I asked them to write their own verses (I didn’t believe they could); we formed groups of 3-4 students and though there are some mistakes and the pattern is not always followed, they did pretty well:

    Chocolate pudding and Vanilla Ice-cream
    Football and swimming or singing and dancing
    Teddies and trains or dollies and toys
    These are a few of my favourite things.

    Boys in black trousers with big and red noses,
    mermaids are swimming with smiling seahorses,
    students are singing and teachers are drinking,
    These are a few of my favourite things.

    Chocolate and cookies when the rain is over,
    carry my jacket and open the umbrella,
    meeting my friend and a coffee together,
    these are a few of my favourite things.

    Red coloured roses and watching a rainbow
    When children are playing a delicious ice cream,
    Laughs of a child and a big apple tree,
    These are a few of my favourite things.

    Thank you, Jamie, for all your inspirationals ideas. :)

  28. Jamie Keddie says:

    Excellent job Eva (and students)!
    Thank you for sharing
    Hope to see you in Tenerife next month
    Jamie :)