One of the things that has been traditionally most lacking in a Georgian child’s scholastic life has been the opportunity to be creative. Clearly this has been changing over the years and now, with the help of TLG Volunteers, schoolchildren are having more and greater opportunities to stretch their creative muscles inside and outside of the classroom.
Sometimes, however, it can be extremely difficult to draw out your students. Oftentimes they’re hesitant to share or very shy, or both. Use this activity to encourage participation among all students, get them up and moving, and to let them have fun using English!
Infomercials (An Activity for Advanced Students in groups of 3-4; best used as a game for an English Club)
- Laptop with several infomercials loaded onto it.
- 1 random item for each student.
- (Optional) paper and markers for making posters
Step One (5-7 minutes)-
Start off by introducing the students to the concept of infomercials. They will almost certainly have experienced infomercials before, but never knew the English word. I recommend starting with the Touch ‘N Brush:
Explain the three main parts of any infomercial:
- The Problem
- The Solution (Your Product)
- The Bonus Offer
(For even more advanced students you can go into the sub-components of The Patented Technology, the Scientist/Doctor appraisal, or the Consumer Testimonials and the strategies of rhymes, slogans, and jingles.)
Step Two (5 minutes)-
With all of the concepts explained, you can do a brief check for understanding by showing a second infomercial. Ask all of the students to write down the components of the infomercial that they recognize. I recommend using another fun and easy one, the MagneScribe Pen:
Have some of the students share what they noticed and then split them into groups of 3 or 4 students.
Step Three (15-20 minutes)-
Once the students are separated by groups, explain to them that they will be creating brand new useless products to sell in their very own infomercials! They will need to use all of the components of a good infomercial, the presentation needs to be entirely in English, and every group member must participate. Then you hand out three or four random objects to each group. I gathered some odds and ends from around my apartment and wound up with quite the strange assortment of exercise equipment, goggles, a curtain rod, a rock, a bear, and more!
Encourage the students to combine their objects or use them in non-standard ways. It doesn’t matter if the “problem” they are solving is ridiculous and unrealistic, most infomercials cater to that very type of problem! Drift around the classroom while they prepare. Some students will be taking over their groups as creative leaders while others will be contributing more subtly. Encourage the students to share ideas and listen to each of their group members.
When they’re finished inventing, it’s time for
Step Four (20-30 minutes)-
Gather everyone around as you take a seat facing the presentation area. A good way to include the audience in the presentations is to pretend that you are all sitting down to watch some TV when you see a string of infomercials. This gets the students creatively engaged even when they’re not presenting.
Rather than scoring the students 1-10 or A-F, I recommend taking a more thematic approach. Typically I break it down like I’m actually watching an infomercial:
- Call Now
- Call Later
- Buy it in the store
- Don’t buy it
And with the scoring and expectations laid bare, you can turn on your TV and enjoy!
The students tend to get very excited and creative with their products. They use rhyming and buzz words to market their idea and they throw themselves into the performance. You’ll see some very surprising uses for common household objects, for example:
- The AntiWebs, the only device for ridding your apartment of spiders! It comes with a patented teddybear head attachment so you can keep spiders away from your baby without scaring the baby! If you call now you’ll get a free Seashell so you can continue lying to your friends about your trip to the sea! (Curtain Rod, Teddybear Head, Seashell)
- The Wrelevator, perfect for the weak-wristed among us! Are you tired of being unable to pick up a pen because your wrists are too weak? Now you can support your wrist with the Wrelevator! If you call now, you’ll also get the stylish Wrelevator carrier so you can always have your Wrelevator on the go! (Candlestick, Rope)
- The Electric Glove, the insulated glove that protects you from getting electrocuted. If you buy a faulty adapter from the market, you could get electrocuted! Not if you’re wearing the Electric Glove! It protects against electric shock and it looks great, too! Call now for a free decorative Painted Rock! (Camera Battery Charger, Painted Rock, A Single Glove)
The students got really excited about the presentations and loved watching their classmates’ presentations too. My co-teacher came up to me several times later that day telling me how she couldn’t stop thinking and laughing about the infomercials. It was a great success and it got the kids using English, having fun, and experimenting with advanced techniques like rhyming, combining words, and creating slogans. Everyone got perfect grades that day!
Note: This is a rather time-consuming activity. It works best as an English Club activity or in a situation where you have two class periods back-to-back. Also, it works best with advanced students. The examples above were created by 9th graders.)
The Bonus Offer-