Posted 17/1/12

This is a simple technique that can be used to introduce a topic: Find a book on Amazon that deals with the topic in question. Cover up the title on the book image with a blob (Use Microsoft Paintbrush, for example). Show it to students and ask them to guess what the title is by reading a synopsis of the book. To demonstrate the activity, I have chosen a book on health.
  • Language level: Intermediate (B1) +
  • Learner type: Mature teens; Adults
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Activity: Collocations
  • Topic: Health
  • Language: Collocations
Book puzzle pdf [downloaded 2508 times]

Lesson plan outline

For this activity, you will need two book cover images – one with the title covered and the other with the title in view. Download the above images and decide how you are going to display them (mobile device, tablet computer, laptop, projector, paper hard copies, etc.)

  1. Tell students that you have a puzzle for them. Show them the first image and ask them to guess what the missing title word is. Note that you might want to put students into pairs or small groups for this and ask them to write down all possible answers rather than shouting them out.
  2. Let students compare answers. Whether or not someone has guessed it correctly, point out (or dictate) the following:
    • The title is a play on words. It has two meanings.
    • The first meaning is: Issues and topics related to health
    • The second meaning is: Health is important
    • As far as book titles go, this one is a bit of a cliché. The same formula has been used for the titles of books on football, money, family, etc.
    Perhaps the title could be described as a Part of Speech pun – the word ‘matters‘ can be comprehended as either a verb in the third person singular form or as a plural noun.
  3. Tell students that you are going to let them read a synopsis of the book which is taken from Tell them that the book title appears twice. Give out copies of the synopsis which is included in the PDF lesson plan. Ask students if they can work out the missing word.
  4. Health _ _ _ _ _ _ _ is an innovative new book about lifestyle, disease risks, diseases and treatments covering a vast range of subjects from period pains to heart attacks; spots to skin cancer; itchy bums to sore heads; and big ears to big bellies. In this book, all is revealed. No subject is regarded as too trivial or too tragic. Health _ _ _ _ _ _ _ and as long as you’ve got yours, nothing else does.
  5. If students still can’t work out the full title, play hangman with the missing word.
  6. Show students the second image – the one with the title uncovered.


This format can be used to introduce virtually any topic in the classroom:

  • Use to find a book or DVD on the topic in question
  • Download the image
  • Use Microsoft Paintbrush (or a similar application) to cover up the title
  • Give out copies of the synopsis of the book, film, etc. taken from
  • Ask students to read the synopsis and guess the title.

Don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to the actual synopsis on You can change it as much as you like to incorporate juicy target language that you want to introduce – health and body collocations, for example. Here is an example of one I made earlier:

Everything you ever wanted to know about your body but were too afraid to ask! This book answers all of your questions about lifestyles and disease risks, bodily functions and embarrassing problems. Just how easy is it to avoid a heart attack? What are the best ways to prevent skin cancer? Ever wondered what causes body odour, period pains, hair loss, runny noses or even just an itchy bum? From headaches and bad backs to beer bellies and bingo wings, no subject is regarded as too trivial or too tragic. Health _ _ _ _ _ _ _ and as long as you’ve got yours, nothing else does.
Posted 17/1/12

19 Responses to Book puzzle

  1. Billie Haase says:

    Great idea! Thanks Jamie, I’ll use that in class!

  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Good luck Billie!

  3. Ozlem Yagcioglu says:

    Nice, useful and helpful ideas. Many thanks for sharing.
    Good luck…With my best wishes and with lots of respect, instructor Ozlem Yagcioglu, Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Ozlem! A pleasure to hear from you
    Jamie :-)

  5. Erica says:

    You’re a sort of an artist teacher and inspired me thk u

  6. Jamie Keddie says:

    An artist teacher? Yeah – I like that. That’s what I am going to put on my business cards from now on.
    Thank you Erica :-)

  7. Really nice activities! I’ve already used some of them in my classroom and the students got excited. They make teaching easier and more enjoyable! :)

  8. Max says:

    What a great idea. So simple and yet so effective.

  9. Mabel says:

    Thank you very much for sharing your material.!!
    I like it very much and I’ll use it in class.

  10. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Mabel and good luck
    Jamie :)

  11. Grammarman says:

    Great idea for a warmer / lead in to a topic. I think I’ll try this one.

    ps – please accept my FB friend invite, which has been pending for aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages.

  12. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Brian!
    I can’t find your FB request. Where are you?!
    J :)

  13. amel says:

    HI JAMIE, really great and helpful ideas thankssssssss smart jamie

  14. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Amel :)

  15. ali says:

    It’s amazing.However, it’s no use playing with photos,book covers as today’s teens are interested in IT devices which are not available in our schools.So,would you be kind and send some to africans nations as Mali

  16. Jamie Keddie says:

    Send some …. ?
    What would you like me to send Ali?
    Jamie :)