Posted 1/11/11

This activity deals with bucket lists – wishlists of things to do before you die (or ‘kick the bucket’). For example: participate in a demonstration; appear on the front cover of a newspaper; be an extra in a film; do a runner from a restaurant; get arrested; photocopy your bottom at work.
  • Language level: Intermediate (B1) +
  • Learner type: Mature teens; Adults
  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Activity: Grammar drill; Speaking
  • Topic: Life & death
  • Language: ‘Have you ever …?’ questions; Past simple questions; Pronunciation of regular past participles
  • Materials: Materials free
Things 2 do b4 u die pdf [downloaded 14957 times]
Disclaimer: Students should be aware that some of the suggestions in this lesson plan are intended only as fun. It should be absolutely clear that you are *not* encouraging them to break the law (or any photocopiers, for that matter).

Lesson plan outline

Note: The inspiration for this lesson plan comes from this book. I recommend buying a copy or at least being able to show students an image of the front cover.
  1. On the board, write: 101 Things To Do Before You Die. Tell students that it is the title of a book. Show it to them if possible (see above).
  2. Ask students to guess what sort of accomplishments are listed in the book. Elicit as many as possible and write them on the board.
  3. Wipe the board clean and write the following verbs:
    • Appear …
    • Be …
    • Catch …
    • Do …
    • Donate …
    • Dye …
    • Gatecrash … *
    • Get …
    • Go …
    • Invent …
    • Milk …
    • Participate …
    • Photocopy …
    • Plant …
    • Visit …
  4. * If you gatecrash a party or a social event, you go without an invitation.

  5. Tell students that the 15 verbs relate to things that are in the book. Give a couple of examples to get them started and see if they can work out/guess the rest in pairs or small groups. In some cases, students will have to make use of their knowledge of collocations. In other cases, they will have to be creative.
  6. Feedback: Allow students to share their ideas with the rest of the class.
  7. Write the correct answers on the board but don’t allow students to copy them.
    • Appear on the front cover of a newspaper
    • Be an extra in a film
    • Catch a fish with your bare hands
    • Do a runner from a restaurant
    • Donate blood
    • Dye your hair a crazy colour
    • Gatecrash a party
    • Get arrested
    • Go skinny dipping at midnight
    • Invent something
    • Milk a cow
    • Participate in a demonstration
    • Photocopy your bottom at work
    • Plant a tree
    • Visit the 7 wonders of the world

    • If you do a runner from a restaurant, you leave without paying.
    • If you gatecrash a party or a social event, you go without an invitation.
    • Skinny dipping: swimming naked
    • An extra: someone who has a very small, non-speaking part in a film or drama production (e.g. as a member of a crowd)
  8. Tell your students that you want them to remember all of the verbal phrases on the board. Negotiate a time limit (90 seconds, for example) and ask them memorise as much of the language as possible, in silence.
  9. Clean the board. Put students into pairs or small groups and tell them that they are going to recall and write down the 15 things to do before you die from memory. However, instead of writing the phrases as they were, students should convert them into Have you ever … ? questions. Give a couple of examples and clarify the grammar (see PDF download for information).
  10. Elicit feedback of the 15 Have you ever …? questions. Use this as an opportunity to drill the language – both the isolated past participles and the full Have you ever…? questions. Make sure students copy all of the language into their notebooks.
  11. Ask students if they can see a pattern for the pronunciation of regular past participles. They should be able to see that when a past participle ends in -ted (or –ded), an extra syllable is added to the stem of the verb. See PDF download for a more detailed discussion of this.
  12. Play the ‘Lying Game’. Instructions are included in the PDF download.

Variation 1

Ask students to compare their own lists of things they would like to accomplish.

Variation 2

Introduce the activity with a poster of the film The Bucket List. Start by writing the words ‘Kick the Bucket’ on the board. Find out if anyone can tell you what the expression means (answer = to die). Show students the film poster image. Find out if anyone has seen the film and if so, can they tell you why it is called The Bucket List (answer = two terminally ill men decide to compile a list of things to do before they die or ‘kick the bucket’).

Variation 3

Choose different Have you ever …? questions for the game or invite students to create their own.

  • Have you ever run a marathon?
  • Have you ever saved someone’s life?
  • Have you ever dropped your mobile phone down the toilet?
  • Have you ever eaten octopus?
  • Have you ever dreamed in English?
  • Have you ever been on TV?
  • Have you ever done a parachute jump?
  • Have you ever been in love?
Posted 1/11/11

41 Responses to Things 2 do b4 u die

  1. Dina says:

    Cool stuff Jamie!
    I actually have the book but never thought of using it in class.

    We could also ask sts to create a list collaboratively and keep track of their achievements. We could then come back to it towards the end of the academic year to see who has ticked the most things off their lists! Would be fun and would stir up discussion, wouldn’t it?



  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Good idea Dina. I’d be interested to hear your students ideas. Come back and post them here (if they agree to it!)
    Jamie :-)

  3. Valentina says:

    I’m glad you posted this lesson again, I remember using it ever since you posted it on ! it’s a great lesson and it always works like magic! thanks Jamie!

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Valentina
    Yes – this is the new edited version. Glad you like it. I’ve been meaning to upload it here for ages. It’s been on my list of things to do …
    Jamie :-)

  5. paul says:

    Hi Jamie,

    I’m so pleased to have come across this lesson, particularly as I’ve been having great difficulty explaining to my students why we use the Present Perfect tense for first time experiences.
    I’m sure that this lesson will be a fun and ‘existential’ way of dealing with this troublesome grammar tense.

    Many thanks for your continual creativity, intelligence and energy.

  6. Kylie Malinowska says:

    I can’t wait to use this lesson next week. My Advanced Teens will love it. Thank you! :)


  7. Jamie Keddie says:

    @ Kyle and @Paul
    Really happy that you like this lesson. To me, this is a part of what it is all about – activity ideas that appeal to teachers and make them look forward to going into the classroom. That’s where the energy and passion has to start – two essential ingredients for any learning situation. It makes me happy to get your comments. Thank you and good luck
    Jamie :-)

  8. Dorota says:

    I’ve just come across your lesson and I will use some parts of it during my “Bucket List” class tomorrow. I decided to discuss this topic after an emergency landing of a Polish plane in Warsaw last week (I live in Warsaw). I also want my students to listen to a presentation given by one of the passengers of the plane which landed on Hudson river in 2009 (it is available on TED website). Thanks for reminding me of a movie “Bucket list” – I loved it but I completely forgot about it!

  9. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Dorota
    I saw the emergency landing on YouTube but didn’t get the story. Sounds like scary stuff.
    Anyway, glad that you redicovered the Bucket List. Good luck with the activity and thank you for the comment.
    Jamie :-)

  10. Margaret says:

    So glad I got to watch this lesson first-hand, I’m using a variation for my class tomorrow night! Thanks Jamie

  11. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Margaret
    Good luck with this. Hope it works well.
    Jamie :-)

  12. Natalya says:

    So exciting activity) I’ll definetely use it with my Ss) thank you

  13. Aline says:

    I’ve been searching for a long time a website full of videos and a good and interesting way of using them. And I found it! What a beautiful day. Thank you very much Jamie!

  14. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Natalia
    Thank you Aline
    Wow – how nice to make someone’s day beautiful.
    Hope it stays that way
    Jamie :-)

  15. Alan Tait says:

    Hi Jamie.

    Another cracker, which I used a few days ago. Ta.

    You, or other teachers/students might find this interesting – ( – Alice has a few months to live and has been blogging about it. I’ve been following her bucket list for months now. Fascinating and inspiring.

  16. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Alan
    Thanks for this. Glad you made use of the lesson plan. And thanks for sharing the link to Alice’s blog.
    Jamie :-)

  17. Veronica says:

    I have just looked through all the lesson plans, because I was searching something some videos for my pupils and I must say it’s brilliant, very interesting and useful. I would like to ask if you could give me some ideas . I teach the beginners (14-16 years old) who have studied French as a second language.
    Veronica from Republic of Moldova

  18. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Veronica
    Did you try the search function on the homepage? You can select lesson plans on the site that are for younger learners/teens/beginners, etc. Just click on the categories at the top of the page.
    Hope that helps
    Jamie :-)

  19. Almudena Nrwch Jul11 says:

    Hi Jamie!
    This is exactly the type of activity I was looking for! I’ll send you an e-mail soon to let you know how it went! :)
    Hope you’re doing great!
    Take care!

  20. ania says:

    thank you for sharing this, jamie! i’ve been going through a creative breakdown recently and your website really inspired me! i did this lesson, works like magic!
    take care

  21. Jamie Keddie says:

    Have I helped a teacher overcome her creative breakdown? That makes my day to know!
    Thank you for letting me know Ania
    Jamie :)

  22. Sarah says:

    Hi Jamie,

    I used this lesson with my class recently and it worked really well – it was really good fun and generated a lot of discussion and laughter. It also worked perfectly alongside a lesson I had prepared about the TV programme “An Idiot Abroad” where the presenter, Karl Pilkington, visits some of the wonders of the world (and in fact the second series sees him complete a “Bucket list”!). Thanks for a great lesson!

  23. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Sarah
    Love it when things come together! Thanks fot the comment. Gald to hear it worked.
    Jamie :)

  24. Laura says:

    Hi Jamie!!!

    I just absolutely adore your work!!! I used this activity with my University students, adding a couple of things myself, like the trailer for the MTV series “The Buried Life”.

    I thought it would be interesting since it is about four guys who have a list of 100 things they would like to tdo before they die (Playing basketball with Obama, Longboarding in San Francisco, etc), and they travel the USA trying to cross out as many things as possible.

    The coolest thing is that, along the way, they talk to other people and ask them what they want to do before they die. They then choose one person and the boys try to help that person cross the item from their list. It is very inspirational and it made my students think…which is not that easy!

    Thanks again and keep up the good work!

    Greetings from Spain!

  25. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Laura
    I have never heard of ‘The Buried Life’. I have just watched the trailer:
    By chance, a friend of mine just sent me a UK TV show that she uses with this activity. It’s called ‘I’ve never seen Star Wars’. Here is the link she sent me:
    Thanks very much for the comment / suggestion.
    Jamie :)

  26. Aimee says:

    Hi, Jamie. You’ve changed a few things since the last time I used this lesson, and I found that it worked better this time. One of the interviewees in the small groups was a student who has always sort of seemed to feel he was above the rest of the group and thus didn’t think he needed to be there, and this activity really allowed him to shine. (And he’s a very good liar, disturbingly!) I like the minor changes you’ve made to the list of 15.

    I did this lesson with a b1+ group with 13 students in it, and it took up the entire 100-minute lesson. Good lesson, as always, and even better!

    Hope you are well,

  27. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks Aimee
    Yes – the activity was edited when I moved it from my (now dead) blog to lessonstream. I am happy to hear that you like it. For me, it is one of those activities that either works really well or goes down like a lead balloon. Actually, isn’t that just teaching in general?
    Jamie :)

  28. Laura says:

    I have to say, I love both “I’ve never seen Stars Wars” and Stepehn Fry (L), and although I had already seen that episode with him, it never occurred to me to use it!!!

    I may do use the episode, but it might be complicated if my students only know that Stephen Fry is “that guy in V for Vendetta”.

    Thanks for the idea though!

  29. Jamie Keddie says:

    Good luck with whatever you choose Laura. And may the force be with you, etc.
    Jamie :)

  30. Ganesh says:

    This site is very useful

  31. Jamie Keddie says:

    Well thank you Ganesh!
    Jamie :)

  32. Katherine says:

    Hi Jamie – I’ve just found a very touching video that matches this lesson perfectly.
    Thank you for this excellent resource.

  33. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Katherine!
    Yes – the video matches the lesson very well. Thank you for sharing.
    Jamie :)

  34. JohnB says:

    I have a similar book, ” 101 things to do before you’re old and boring”. Similar ideas but less morbid. Maybe better for younger groups.

  35. Volkan says:

    Thanks for your complete lesson plans.I use them in my lessons.

  36. Ozan Tekin says:

    Dear Jamie,

    I have come across your website while trying to turn a boring speaking task (in my coursebook) into a lively and fun speaking and writing activity. Your lesson has evolved into something else, yet I achieved the desired ”happy” result and goals of my lesson.

    My lesson was shaped around the subject of ambitions and achievements. Your lesson was the perfect match for the ideas I had in mind. Therefore, I dissected all the necessary parts of your lesson and incorporated them with my lesson, which yielded the most fruitful results both for my students and my humble self:) I would like to extend my warmest thanks for taking the time to start such a creative and strong initiative. I would love to share the details of my lesson later if time allows:)

    All the best,


  37. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Ozan
    Thank you for taking the time to write. I am very happy to hear that you managed to adapt and remix this activity. That’s what it’s all about!
    I hope that you manage to do the same with other activities on the site.
    Happy new year!
    Jamie :)

  38. Ingrid Benninga says:

    Hi Jamie,
    Just starting out in this new career so was very happy to have such detailed guidelines. Thank you so much for all the great ideas. This one worked excellently with my fairly boisterous, quite advanced B2/C1 class of adults. I especially loved their looks of concentration as they tried to remember the list of verbs with collocations. They did the exercise really well and we had a total of 12 remembered out of the 15 which I thought was pretty good. Fleshed out to a 90 minute class by including a gap fill of The Bucket List trailer which they found quite challenging and some contextual questions. Will definitely be coming back to your site!!

  39. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Ingrid
    Always great to hear such nice feedback!
    Good luck with the next one
    Jamie :)