Posted 4/10/11
Why did the chicken cross the road? is one of the most famous (and least funny) jokes in English. In this lesson plan, students are asked to draw their own road-crossing chickens and consider chicken motives before being directed to the joke.
  • Language level: Elementary – Intermediate (A2 – B1)
  • Learner type: Young learners; Teens; Adults
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Activity: Drawing; Writing sentences
  • Topic: Jokes; English humour
  • Language: The infinitive of purpose
  • Materials: Materials free
Chickens crossing pdf [downloaded 4501 times]

Lesson plan outline

  1. Give every student in the class a scrap piece of paper.
  2. Ask students to draw a picture of a chicken crossing the road.
  3. 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 of getting students started is to lead by example – draw a picture of your own on the board – the simpler, the better.
  4. Ask everyone to think of a name for their chickens. Students should write the chicken names on their drawings (see below).
  5. On the board, write:
  6. [Chicken name] is crossing to …

    Give an example or two to illustrate the infinitive of purpose. Then ask students to think of a reason why their chicken is crossing the road and complete the sentence in any way they want. Ask students to be as imaginative as possible. They should write their sentences on the back of their drawings – in pencil if possible. Also, if possible, give access to bilingual dictionaries so that students can express their ideas even if they don’t have the necessary language/vocabulary.

  7. While students are writing their sentences, go around the class and help with language. Offer corrections and suggest improvements whenever possible.
  8. Note: The aim of this step is for every student to have a well-written sentence on the back of their chicken drawings. If students write their original sentences in pencil (see step 4 above), this will make the correction/re-writing process less messy.
  9. Ask everyone to stand up. Invite them to mingle with as many other students as possible. Students should introduce their chickens to each other and explain why they are crossing the road.
  10. For homework, ask students to find out why the chicken really did cross the road.


It may be difficult to correct all of your students’ sentences in class (see step 5 above). This will be especially difficult for large groups. If this is the case, ask students to hand in all of their drawings/sentences (following step 4). In your own time, write language suggestions and corrections on the back of their drawings and give them back the next day. If done in this way, the activity should proceed over two days.

Follow ups

  • Put all of your students drawing on the wall to create a collage. Ask students to write their chickens’ road-crossing reasons neatly on separate pieces of paper and stick these around the collage.
  • Refer back to the ‘Why did the chicken cross the road’ joke whenever you need to revise, revisit or recap the infinitive of purpose (note that a common student error that often needs corrected is: ‘For to get to the other side’.)

Image credit

The ‘Chickens Xing’ sign used in this lesson plan can be purchased online at

Posted 4/10/11

17 Responses to Chickens crossing

  1. lucila quartim barbo says:

    This was the best activity to drill ‘infinitive of purpose” ever. I just loved it. Brazilians students have problems with it.
    Congratulations on this great job! This material should be addressed to all the teachers in the world, but for those who are demotivated, there’s nothing better.
    It’s enlighted me.
    Thanks indeed.
    I’ll ask the owners of the school where I work for to gently invite you for a Lecture or worshop.



  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Lucila
    You are very nice.
    I’ve never been to Brazil – do your best and I’ll see you there!
    thanks for the comment
    Jamie :-)

  3. Daniela says:

    Brilliant activity full of fun and creativity! Thanks a lot! My students have produced intriguing sentences some even related to the current political situation. :-)

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Great work Daniela!
    Would love to have been a fly on the wall in your classroom – sounds like it was a fun lesson! Thanks for the comment.
    Jamie :-)

  5. David Valins says:

    I will definitely use this lesson. It’ll work rather well with all nationalities & backgrounds. It also allows integration in class and enjoyment. Thanks!!!

  6. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks David
    Good luck
    J :)

  7. Paulina says:

    Why did the chicken cross the road ?….
    Why not ! :)

  8. María Palacios says:

    We had a great time with this activity. My students in 2º Bachillerato enjoyed it a lot. Laughing makes everything easier. I’ve learnt a lot about chickens…! Thanks! María

  9. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you María
    Really glad you all enjoyed it
    Jamie :)

  10. Gabi says:

    I just found a video on YouTube related to the joke. Let me share it with you all:

  11. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Gabi
    That is very useful. Good material for more advanced students.
    Jamie :)

  12. Jorinde says:

    Why did the chicken cross the road?
    To get to Jamie Keddie’s lesson ideas, of course!

    Brilliant ideas, thank you so much! Can’t wait to use them in class!


  13. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Jorinde
    Jamie :)
    PS Cluck

  14. Forneberg says:

    what a good start we had yesterday evening in Normandy with this warm-up activity. Good mood till the end of the course.
    thank you so much for your imaginative ideas.
    I’ve just bought your book.


  15. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Martine. I am glad you are making good use of the site.
    And thank you very much for buying my book. It helps me eat!
    Jamie :)

  16. Terri says:

    This is a an activity I’d definitely use with my young learners and my elementary level adults. Some students in the video did not actually use the target language (infinitive of purpose). When I’ve come across this I acknowledge their grammar is correct and when applicable I offer that their clause following the conjunction “because” is clever. Then i invite them to write another example using an infinitive.

  17. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Terri
    As I recall, I gave my students the following choice:
    * [Name] is crossing the road to …
    * [Name] is crossing the road because …
    It allowed for students to express more ideas.
    Thanks for your comment
    Jamie :)