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June 2024 - Year 26 - Issue 3

ISSN 1755-9715

Revisiting Creative Resources

Judit Fehér is a freelance teacher, teacher trainer and materials writer. Her professional interests are HLT, CLIL, global education, materials writing, creativity and the arts. As a teacher trainer, Judit has worked internationally, most notably for Pilgrims, British Study Centres and Europass Teachers Academy. Most of her teaching materials target secondary students. She is the co-author of Creative Resources with Bonnie Tsai (IAL, Atlanta, 2004). 




Some time at the beginning of this century, Bonnie Tsai and I decided to write a book together. We had no idea then that its title will be Creative Resources and that the International Alliance for Learning (IAL) will publish it in Atlanta, US; we only knew we both had a lot of creative activities for language learners, most of which we had already used with success in our lessons, so they were tried out and safe.

It was 20 years ago in July 2004 that I had the published book first in my hands. The 50th anniversary of Pilgrims, the 25th of HLT, and the 20th of the publication of the book provide  a good reason to go back to the activities in the book and see how they aged and what further uses or adaptations seem now possible or even needed.

The activities in the book are sorted into five chapters by the main creative resource the activities in the chapter are based on. These are: The Individual as Resource, The Group as Resource, Literary Work as Resource, Art as Resource, and Sensory Experience as Recourse. The holistic approach throughout the book made it really hard to decide in which one Chapter an activity should appear, so you’ll find they might have fitted into other chapters, too.

I have chosen one activity from each chapter. With all the five activities I’ll use to same structure:

1. The original description of the activity

2. The original activity in present-day real and virtual classrooms

3. Editions, adaptations and further uses


A. The Individual as a Resource - One Fine Day p. 12

1. The original description of the activity


Level: Intermediate - advanced

Time: 20 minutes

Material: None

Focus: Multi-sensory and speaking



• Ask students to think of a time when they spent a really good day. Ask them to remember where they were, who they were with, what they were doing, what the weather was like, any special voices, sounds or music...

• Give them some time to remember, and ask them to make a film of their day in their mind. Ask them to add colour, brightness and size, and then tell them to make their film bigger, brighter and bolder.

• Now let them find a partner and a quiet place in the room so that they can exchange their

experiences of what a good day is like.

• Ask them to think about their day and to think about one thing that didn't happen but could have; one thing that would have fit in and made their day even better.

• Students change partners and tell that person about their day including the part they have imagined.

• After listening to each other, they decide which part wasn't a part of their partner's day.



This kind of "mind's eye" activity, especially making changes and seeing how this could affect the outcome is an excellent entry point for people having a strong visual/spatial intelligence. It is also connected to sensory modalities in Neuro Linguistic Programming. It brings home to us the senses we use to structure our experiences. N.L.P. is also about change. Here we are working with a happy occasion, but what would it take to change a bad day into a good one?


2. The original activity in present-day real and virtual classrooms

I think this activity can work the same way as it did 20 years ago: through talking about something personally relevant, it creates an opportunity for real communication, naturally leading to useful language practice, e.g. narrative tenses, descriptions, active listening; it can also be done in breakout rooms (BOR’s).


3. Editions, adaptations and further uses

a. Now I wouldn’t give this instruction: “Ask them to add colour, brightness and size, and then tell them to make their film bigger, brighter and bolder”. The reason is that we live in a world where biased, exaggerated and doctored information prevails, and opinions are routinely used as facts, often making it hard to judge what the truth is. This is why I feel that imagination should not be mixed with real experience and observation in a way that they can’t clearly be separated from each other; e.g. in the part where students add the bit that did not happen, the divide is clear so I have no problem with it. Now this is what I would say: “Use language that describes what you experienced and how you felt, e.g. add details, add adjectives so we can understand why it was so good for you”. We still maintain the positive focus, but stay within the real experience. 


b. This activity could be developed into a life-skill / emotional intelligence activity:

• Find out how you can make your days better, and better and in what sense.

- Students tally different types of activities in the stories, including the imagined parts. Categories may include: with people / on my own, outside / inside, at home / out, physical activity / mental activity, with a device / without a device, my need / someone else’s need, work / entertainment, etc.

- Compare preferences and discuss different types of activities and their value.


• Use the same day-visualisation technique to prepare for an important future day, e.g. when they take a test.

- Students visualise the day of the test and then the day when they get the results as great days. 

- Then they discuss with a partner how they can make it come true. Strategies are collected into a complete ‘to do’ checklist.

- Students individually select what they think are relevant for their own personalised to-do lists.

B. The Group as Resource - The History Book of the Class, p. 27

1. The original description of the activity

Level: All levels

Focus: Group identity in the class, writing

Time: Spread over the course

Material: A nice exercise book, a folder, art supplies, photos


The idea of this exercise is for students to keep a record of events in the life of the class. Not only does it give them a good and meaningful opportunity for writing, but it is also a good means of forming and maintaining the spirit of belonging together in the class. It also gives a sense of achievement to classes.



Bring a book with blank paper suitable for the activity to class.



• Shortly after you start working with a class, show them the exercise book and tell them that you have bought it precisely for them to keep a record of the history of the class in it.

• Put them into groups of approximately four students and ask them to plan how the book will be used, what sections it will have, who will have the right / whose obligation it will be to write in it, who can read it, etc. When groups have collected ideas, have a discussion and make decisions with the students. Possible ideas: choose a name for the class, a slogan and a logo; make a class photograph / drawing; every individual has a page to introduce themselves; it is a different person every week who registers the main class events; have a messages page, a big laughs page; make a time line; have a folder / box to collect drawings, texts, recordings produced by the class. Encourage lower level classes to use a lot of pictures and some simple explanatory words or sentences.

• On your last lesson with the class, ask everyone to choose their favourite event of the course.


2. The original activity in present-day real and virtual classrooms

This activity can be done easily using technology, too, e.g. using Book Creator or another application of your choice. Having a nice physical book of the class is a special thing, though, and it can always be digitalised. Scrapbook albums are more flexible than exercise books, and you can find many examples and tutorials on the internet on how to create them.


3. Editions, adaptations and further uses

A weekly class podcast could be added or used as an alternative; the Soundtrap Edu Portal may be of help

Another electronic addition or alternative is to have a Facebook page to record class events. If your group has a permanent physical classroom of their own, creating posters of main class events and covering the walls with them is perhaps the most bonding of all the choices you have.


C. Literary Work as Resource - All the Colours of the Rainbow, p. 54

1. The original description of the activity

Time: 15 mins

Level: Elementary - intermediate

Material: None

Focus: Writing, comparing using as….as



• Start out by brainstorming colours with the group. Make a list on the board.

• Next take each colour and associate things that go with the colour. This can be done by writing each colour on a piece of paper and circulating them around the room. Ask students to add anything they associate with a colour on the piece of paper. For example, blue = sky, ocean, flowers, ribbon, bird, lake, eyes, mosaic and so on;

• After the colours have circulated around the room and lists have been made, show the students the comparative structure when two things are equal: as…….as, e.g. as blue as the ocean.

• Write on the board, All the Colours of the Rainbow.

• Tell the students that they are going to write a short poem about colours using the as…as structure. To do this, they choose six colours and something they associate with each colour. The first line of the poem starts with ‘All the colours of the rainbow’.


Here is an example of a finished poem:


All the colours of the rainbow

All the colours of the rainbow

as red as a cherry

as blue as the sea

as white as the snow

as green as the grass

as yellow as a cup of sunbeams

as black as night



Writing a poem can be a big self-esteem booster to someone learning English. This is because

they have something to “perform” at the end and feel good about.


2. The original activity in present-day real and virtual classrooms

•Technology might make it easier to collect associations with different colours and have them available to everyone easily, e.g. using Jamboard (From 1st October 2024, when Jamboard will stop functioning fully before stopping completely by the end of the year, you can use these appsFigJam by FigmaLucidspark by Lucid SoftwareMiro.)


• Sharing the final products can be done online well. E.g.: 

-Students record their poem and upload them onto a shared online platform e.g. Padlet, or an online storage, e.g. Google Drive.

-They make or choose online a picture to illustrate their poem with.

-The texts complete with the illustrations and the recording links can be uploaded onto an online platform, e.g. an online classroom or a padlet.


• The most successful and memorable sharing of the finished products so far for me was when: 

- Students created QR-codes to their recordings, and we printed a page for each student with the text, the illustration and the QR-code. 

- We put these on the walls with an empty envelope below them. 

- Students walked around with their mobiles, with their headphones on, scanned the QR-codes, listened to the poems, made nice comments on small pieces of paper, and put them into the envelopes under the poems. I was also happily doing the same.


3. Editions, adaptations and further uses

• You can ask your students to write All the … poems on quite a few other topics, e.g. All the days of the / last week, All the foods in my fridge, All the friends I have, All the days of my (last) holiday, etc. This will build their vocabulary, especially adjectives beyond ‘good, bad, nice and interesting’. Just to illustrate, here’s an example in two different levels of complexity:


All the days of the week All the days of the week

All the days of the week

as relaxed as Sunday

as hectic as Monday

as busy as Tuesday

as active as Wednesday

as never-ending as Thursday

as hopeful as Friday

as entertaining as Saturday

All the days of the week

as relaxed as a Sunday walk after lunch

as hectic as a Monday morning meeting

as busy as a Tuesday afternoon working from home online

as active as a Wednesday training session

as never-ending as a Thursday afternoon at work

as hopeful as a Friday lunch at my computer

as entertaining as a Saturday night, dancing with my friends

• These poems can further be used for discussions, with students explaining their choices of adjectives.


D. Art as Resource - Musical Landscapes, p. 98

1. The original description of the activity

Level: Intermediate upwards

Focus: Describing people and feelings

Time: 20 minutes

Material: Reproductions of landscapes, classical music


This activity is an art-minded version of musical chairs.



Bring to class reproductions of as many landscapes as there are students in the class. You need one more landscape for demonstrating the activity. It is important that there should be no people in the pictures or if there are, they must not be significant, or dominant. It’s best to have a good variety of styles, places, ages and feelings. We have used landscapes from Turner, Constable, Gainsborough, Sisley, József Egry, László Pál, Monet, van Goyen, Derain, Bonnard, Cezanne, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hobbema, van Rysdael. Arrange the landscapes in a circle around the class. The best way is to put them on the walls all around the classroom.

Bring to class some background classical music. We have found that music from Vivaldi,

Smetana and Debussy works really well.



• Show one of the landscapes to students and ask them to imagine that they are there. Who are

they? What are their names? What kind of persons are they? Invite students to throw in ideas

using the first person singular (I am … I live…My family…). Help the process by asking questions as needed.

• Tell students that there are pictures on the walls, and that you will play some music.

• Ask them to walk from one picture to another as they hear the music. They are invited to look at the pictures, but they must go on walking until the music stops.

• When the music stops, they can run to any of the landscapes they like, but they can only stay

there if there is nobody else standing there. It means that we will have one person standing in

front of each picture.

• Now ask students to imagine that they are in the landscape. Ask them to imagine their lives as that person. Give them one minute to think and generate ideas. Then ask them to choose someone, and invite that person to their picture, and tell them who they are. Their partner can also ask them questions. Give them one minute.

• Then they go to the other person’s picture, where they have one minute, too.

• Start playing the music again, and have the same process again, but this time ask students to

invite a different person to their new landscapes. Give them two minutes each in their new pairs.

• Repeat the process three or four times, asking students to choose a different person each time and giving them longer and longer periods of time to talk.

• Finish when they still enjoy it!



You may ask everybody to tell about “their favourite lives” to the whole class. It is also a good exercise to ask them to compare “their favourite lives” to their real lives, or rank “their lives” (their real one included), and explain the order. You can also ask them to write about the person that they enjoyed being the most. Collect the descriptions, re-distribute them and ask students to match the people described to the landscapes. Another possibility is to ask students to draw the person they enjoyed being the most, or you may wish to give them a choice between writing a description and drawing / painting. If there is access to a scanner, students can put their favourite persons into the landscapes!


2. The original activity in present-day real and virtual classrooms

•To run this activity in a virtual classroom, we need to make changes that would change the process so much that it is not the same activity any more. Especially, I could not figure it out how the dynamics of the movements in the real classroom, their invigorating, motivating fun element could fully be created virtually. Surely, you can make a folder with the images and share them online, or make a slideshow with them; you can even create a gallery in a padlet, which is my favourite way of doing this and similar picture-based activities online as each picture can have any text or music created / selected by the students next to them, and be shared beautifully this way. But the random, fun and lively ways of matching students to images by moving around as music is playing, and then running to favourite pictures as the music stops will be lost. If you have a really small group like e.g. 6 students, you can number the images and with these numbers use an online random picker e.g. this one to pair pictures with students; but it can become boring and a waist of time with more students in your class, and – although it has an element of luck - it is still a far cry from the original idea.

•In a fully online version, you could: 

- Share the images in a padlet, with each picture having a column. 

- Students could choose an image by posting under the picture saying: “Image chosen by + their name.” Only one person can post under any picture. 

- Students get a short time with their chosen picture to imagine their lives in the pictures.

- In BOR’s, pairs or small groups tell each other about their lives in the pictures, and compare them. Could they make friends with each other with those identities?

- In the main room, pairs / groups report back to the class about their lives and what they found out about each other’s identities.

3. Editions, adaptations and further uses

• In an online version, I would not repeat with three different images the process of choosing a landscape, imagining and then telling about your life in it in BOR’s as it might become cumbersome. Each student would only work with one image. For this reason, it might be a good idea to have two, or three images more than there are students, so everybody, even the slowest ones to choose would still have some choice.

• Where technology can add real value to the process is in the extension part even if you have a chance to run the speaking part of the activity in a real classroom. Students with picture-editing skills can put themselves into the landscapes; no need for scanning, drawing cutting and pasting, however, that should remain an option as manually gifted students might prefer that. Then these real and / or virtual collages can be posted with a text online (too), e.g. in the Padlet gallery with the original images. Optionally, students can choose or record a piece of music to go with their images and also post that. This way, music is not totally left out even in a fully online version.

E. Sensory Experience as Recourse - Exercise Idioms, p. 122

1. The original description of the activity

Time: 20 minutes

Level: Upper-intermediate - advanced

Material: A list of the idioms or you might want to write them out on individual slips of paper.

Focus: Learning common English idioms through a kinaesthetic approach


Physical exercise is good for you. The idioms provide a program of strenuous exercise to keep

students’ English in shape.



• Go through the idioms with the group: Ask them first to pick out the ones they think they

understand. Then, ask them to guess what some of the unknown ones might mean. Finally,

explain the ones remaining using examples. E.g. “When I don’t want to say something directly or I’m not getting to the point of what I want to say, I beat about the bush.” Ask students to think of instances when they beat about the bush. E.g. “I tend to beat about the bush when I feel uncomfortable about telling someone something.” Etc.

• Ask students to form groups of 3 or 4. Explain that all these idioms involve some kind of physical movement. E.g. Beating about the bush brings to mind someone going around a bush several times hitting the air around it with a stick. Tell students that they are going to work up a physical fitness routine using 4 or 5 of the idioms as their inspiration. Tell them they will have 5 minutes to work up their routine. Some groups might want to use music with their routine.

• Students present their “physical fitness routine” to the group who pick out the idioms they

observe while watching the routine.



• We have suggested to present the idioms on slips of paper or on cards as opposed to giving

students a list because lists can seem daunting whereas coming into contact with one idiom at a time can seem less threatening. The teacher can also use fewer idioms if he or she feels the class has had enough.

• Here are some idioms that seem appropriate to physical fitness.

Beating about the bush

Balancing the books

Jumping to conclusions

Running around in circles

Climbing the walls

Eating crow

Swallowing one’s pride

Tooting one’s own horn

Passing the buck

Climbing the ladder of success

Making a mountain out of a molehill

Pulling out the stops

Dragging one’s heels

Adding fuel to the fire

Pushing one’s luck

Opening a can of worms

Hitting the nail on the head

Putting one’s foot in one’s mouth

Wading through paperwork

Going over the edge

Bending over backwards

Starting the ball rolling

Jumping on the bandwagon

Picking up the pieces


2. The original activity in present-day real and virtual classrooms

Groups can prepare and practise their fitness routines in BOR’s with their cameras on, and perform them in the main room. Guessing the idioms can be done by writing in the chat, especially in larger groups, where saying them could lead to a lot of noise and confusion.


3. Editions, adaptations and further uses

• The idea of exercise idioms can also be used as little relaxation breaks by groups taking it in turns to be fitness trainers; they lead short training sessions using the routine they have created. First they can say the idioms to trigger the movements, but when students can do a given routine well, instead of using the idioms themselves in the instructions, they say the meanings of them and wait for the other participants to perform the relevant movements for the idiom. So it becomes a mental fitness routine, too.

• You can also ask groups to come up with a story for their routine, in which they use all the idioms from it. They can write up the story with gaps for the idioms. Groups then swap stories and fill in the idioms.


Revisiting these activities made me more aware how much technology has diversified what and how we teach because of the many different online, offline and mixed teaching scenarios, which all need different approaches. I also believe that in a world where it is hard to know what is true and what is a lie, we need to be alert to opportunities to model clear observation, logical and reflective thinking, and give students tasks to practise these, as well as using their imagination and creativity. Due to these, we need to create more options, adaptations and extensions to any given activity to meet the diverse needs of students and teachers alike. 


Please check the Pilgrims f2f courses at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Pilgrims online courses at Pilgrims website.

  • An Idea Lost and Found
    Mario Rinvolucri, founding father of PILGRIMS, UK

  • Formative Assessment When Writing a Narrative
    Janja Uhernik, Slovenia

  • Idioms for Losing Weight
    Hania (Hanna) Kryszewska, Poland

  • Is it Reigning Cats and Dogs? Or Are You Just Pleased to Cliché?
    Paul Davis, late PILGRIMS trainer, UK

  • Keep Calm and Maintain Your Sanity
    Vesna Gros, Slovenia

  • Revisiting Creative Resources
    Judit Fehér, Hungary

  • Teaching with Instrumental Music for Motivation, Mindfulness, Integrated Skills, and Creativity
    Magda Zamorska, Poland