Inside my Classroom: Take This Lollipop – creepy internet safety resource

take this lollypop

Take This Lollipop is an online interactive film that has been around since 2010 and I have used it time and time again both back in the UK in a youth work setting, and in my ESL teaching here in Thailand.

Once of the units I needed to cover with one of my classes last year was Internet Safety – an important topic to explore with young people – and I used Take This Lollipop as a way of introducing the concept of privacy and protection on the internet.

The way it works is that someone has to log in using their facebook on the homescreen at – remember, this resource was created to highlight the importance of protecting your information on the internet so they don’t save any of the log in details once the activity is complete.

Once logged in, the film starts.  We see a creepy man sat at a computer surfing the net.  He starts checking out facebook and hey, who’s that?  It’s the profile of whoever logged in at the beginning.  He starts ‘facebook stalking’ the profile and starts behaving quite disturbingly.  Photographs of the facebook user and their friends start to show up – it really freaks out the students to see this horrible man looking at pictures of them.

Depending on how much information the facebook user has on their profile, the creepy man looks up their address and used google maps to see the street.  If the student hasn’t listed an address it will only zoom into their hometown – but if they have written their whole address on their profile it will zoom right in on their street.

The film ends as the creepy guy drives off in his car with the facebook users’ profile picture taped to the dashboard.

This interactive online film is excellent for starting discussion on internet safety, information protection and privacy.  It also helps to highlight how important it is that we think about how much personal information we choose to share on social networking sites.

Have a go at home with your own facebook first and see how much it freaks you out!


Those of you who have liked the facebook page will already be aware that I have put Teacher Tuesday to bed – it was just too limiting only being a Tuesday kinda thing.  Inside my classroom will have exactly the same content of lesson ideas, inspirations and useful links, only now I can share things with you any day of the week.  Tuesdays just weren’t working for me anymore, it’s nothing personal…

Teacher Tuesday: first lesson introductions

Teacher Tuesday returns after taking a six week summer break.  So it’s back to school for me and back to sharing some teacher tidbits each Tuesday.

As a student I always got excited when that back to school feeling started to creep up and I’m still the same now.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate my six week break but six weeks is a long time to have no structure or daily routine.  I’m definitely glad to be getting back in the classroom!

As I am gearing up for the first day back at school tomorrow (who starts on a Wednesday?  I supose it eases us back in with a nice 3 day week) I thought I would share some of the things I have done in the past in those first introductory lessons.  These are perfect little ice breakers to introduce yourself to the class and break down any awkwardness or shyness.

Introducing the teacher

Name Hangman

A nice simple activity to create some mystery and introduce yourself.  I do this with every brand new ESL class I have, and I execute it in the same way.  Once all the class are seated and settled down, I don’t speak (this seems to add a level of mystery and excitement…)  I turn to the board and I mark out _ _ _ _ _ on the board.  I don’t even introduce the fact that I’m playing hangman.  I like to leave it to the class to figure it out as it gives me a chance to observe how they work, who takes charge etc.  Usually they will recognise the game format and will start suggesting letters.  For the odd class who didn’t get it, I would write “My name is…” above the lines, and then they would cotton on.

The great thing about this for me is as I have quite an unusual name, they are guessing right up until the end.  Actually, even when all five letters are up there, they are still guessing how to pronounce my name, which always ends up being pronounced Kylieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee for the rest of the school year.

All About Me

Students love to hear all about your life, especially in the ESL environment as your life is seen as glamorous and exotic.  The good thing about working abroad is I feel like I can give more personal information about my family and home, than I could if I was in my home country.

Another activity I do in every first lesson is I show a slideshow of pictures all about me, my family, my home etc.  If there isn’t a projector I have taken my iPad and walked around with it.  Again, I try to not talk very much, and try to elicit as much language from the students as I can.  This is really helpful to guage the level of previous knowledge and what topics they have covered.

They love seeing photographs of my family home, my car, the town I come from (especially a picture of it after a snowfall).  Most of the time when I show them a picture of the Union Jack (Great Britain’s flag) they have no idea what country I come from, but if I show St. George’s Cross (England’s flag) all the boys start shouting out ROONEY or GERRARD and suddenly they are all too aware of what country I come from!  And then the ubiquitous question that seemingly all Thai students can ask regardless of their English language level; “Football team?”  – always have a football team, don’t disappoint them!  I usually ask who they support and lo and behold, that’s my team too!  So far I have supported Liverpool, Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea… I don’t even watch football!

Getting to know the students

The Sun Always Shines On

For this to work, students need to be able to speak some English, and the teacher will  need to tailor the game accordingly.

Clear a large space in the room and make a circle of chairs (one less than the amount of students) and a chair in the centre of the circle.  I usually start with myself in the centre of the circle to demonstrate.

Everyone sits on a chair.  The person in the middle says “The sun always shines on…” and then something about them that they may have in common with other people e.g “…people with long hair.”  All people with long hair have to get out of their chair and change places with someone else who has stood up.  Meanwhile the person in the middle tries to take the place of someone standing, leaving someone different in the middle, and the game continues.

This game is great for finding out about students and for them to find out about each other.  And they get to run across the room and fight over chairs, which is always fun.

Human Bingo

This game is excellent when the students are new to each other.  You need to prepare some grids with questions in them and space for signatures – here’s an example of one I have used before;

human bingo

Students need to walk around the classroom asking each other the questions.  When they encounter a student who answers ‘yes’ to a question, they ask the student their name and write it in the space of the box containing that question.  I always say that students can only use one person once.

Prizes can be given for getting a line, or you can wait for someone to fill all of their boxes.  Get students to shout BINGO when they have filled all their boxes.

What I like to do then is call up all of the students whose names are in the boxes on the sheet, asking them the question and getting them to prove it if they can.

Some more useful links

A nice round up of first lesson activities from Education World.

Over 200 back to school activities and worksheets on Busy Teacher.

Articles, lesson plans and activities for the first day over at TEFLtastic blog.

Check out for hundreds of ice breakers and warm ups – this website was my go-to when I was a youth worker.

Hopefully these activities have inspired you to make your first lessons fun and memorable.  If you have any first lesson tips or tricks, leave them in the comments below!


This is part of a weekly feature – Teacher Tuesday – make sure you come back next week for another lesson idea.  If you have an idea to share as part of Teacher Tuesday feel free to get in touch.  


Teacher Tuesday: Picture dictation listening activity

Teaching English typically falls into one of four categories; reading, writing, speaking and listening.  Often, the listening aspect can be overlooked or be reduced to the poor effort of pressing play on the cassette that came with the twenty year old workbook your school provides you with, (if you are lucky enough to be provided with anything, decades old or not!).

Listening doesn’t have to mean a silent class listening to an unnatural conversation carried out by actors with questionable pronunciation, it can be interactive and fun if you look outside of the realm of role play and rote Q & As.

Here is an incredibly simple listening activity that can be carried out with very little preparation – the good old dictation.

Traditionally, a dictation would require the class to sit in silence listening to the teacher reading a passage and writing word for word what they hear.  Not fun.

In this activity, the teacher reads a passage but instead of writing what they hear, the students have to draw it.

Either in groups or individually, students have to engage their ears and utilise their listening skills without getting bogged down in worries about spelling or grammar – this is a listening activity after all, not writing.

There are some variations for how you can carry this out depending on the ability of the class and how challenging you want to make it;

  • teacher reads the passage and students can only listen
  • teacher reads the passage and students can make notes
  • teacher reads the passage multiple times including part way through the drawing process
  • teacher reads the passage once and students can come and ask questions to clarify specific details
  • teacher reads the passage and gives a copy to students
  • teacher reads the passage and shows it on the projector/writes it on the whiteboard

Below is an example passage that I have used in my classroom.  You can of course use your own words, taking into consideration the previous learning you have done with your class, or perhaps a descriptive piece of writing from a book.  The important factor is that there are specific details that can be checked off afterwards.

It is a hot summer day and the sun is high up in the sky.  A few white fluffy clouds sit in the bright blue sky and three birds are flying.  The sea is sparkling in the sunlight and the beach is looking beautiful.  A family is sitting on the beach; mum is sat in the shade of an umbrella reading a book, dad is making sandcastles with the daughter and the son is standing in the sea, feeling the cool water on his feet.  A crab is close to him and he can see fish in the sea.  Everyone is happy and having fun.  Two palm trees stand tall, one on the left, one on the right.  On the right, four monkeys play in the tree, throwing coconuts down below.

I’m a big fan of (healthy) competition in the classroom, so I always do this with small groups of students, each group with a  piece of A3 paper.  I encourage students to take different roles, with less artistically inclined students responsible for reading the passage or asking the teacher questions (depending on how you run the activity) and checking off particular details.  The artists in the group will go to town creating wonderful pictures that you can then keep to display around the classroom.

After a set amount of time, I like to get groups up one by one to show their work and as a class we go through the passage and check off each detail.  The group whose picture has the most correct details, wins!

Further variations and extensions of this activity include;

  • students write passages to read to each other
  • matching descriptive passages to pictures
  • students look at a picture and write a passage describing it

Even if you don’t specifically teach listening as a subject, it is an aspect of English teaching that is often overlooked.  Needing so little preparation other than having a piece of writing to hand (you could even write one on the spot if you were caught out) this activity is perfect to insert into any lesson as a warm up, filler or just a bit of creative fun.  Why not try it yourself and let me know how it goes?

This is part of a weekly feature – Teacher Tuesday – make sure you come back next week for another lesson idea.  If you have an idea to share as part of Teacher Tuesday feel free to get in touch.  


In my classroom: prepositions of place video

Last year I was teaching prepositions of place to my M1 (first year of high school) students and I was looking for something more interesting than the pictures of a rabbit and a box that feature heavily in the Google search results within the topic.

The students already had a good grasp of prepositions by this point so this video was just a little bit of fun that they were able to enjoy because of their newly found understanding – I was a proud teacher indeed when the students were laughing at the correct points!