Teaching animal vocabulary can be an incredibly fun lesson for ESL young learners. On this page you will find an ESL lesson plan to teach animal vocabulary to young English language learners. Although the activities are mainly aimed at kids, the activities can be easily adapted for older beginner ESL students.
In this lesson plan students will learn animal names while practicing the demonstrative pronouns ‘this’ and ‘that’. Students will learn how to ask and answer ‘What’s this/that?’ and ‘Is that a (lion)?’.
First students will play a fun flashcard game to learn the names of the animals. Next, students will play a fun board game with their partner. And finally, students will watch a video and play an animals guessing game.
All the materials needed for this animals lesson are provided below. For more free materials to teach about animals, that are not included in this lesson plan, see the bottom of this page.
Materials for this lesson:
Animals | ESL Lesson Plan for Kids
Introduction and Warm up
Before introducing key words and expressions for the lesson, it is important to put the target language into context.
A great way to do this is to tell students that you recently visited a zoo. Ask them to guess what animals they think you saw at the zoo and write them on the board. Ask students if they have ever been to the zoo and what animals they saw.
Next, its time to introduce the animal names and key expressions for the lesson.
Practice Key Words And Sentences
Using these animal flashcards introduce the animal names to the students. Ask students to repeat after you as you say the animal names aloud.
Next, introduce the pronouns ‘this’ and ‘that’ and the expression ‘This/That is a (lion).’
An easy way to demonstrate the difference between this and that is to simply place the flashcard close to you and say ‘This is a lion.’, and then move the flashcard away from you and say ‘That is a lion.’ Ask students to guess what the difference is between this and that.
Once students have practiced enough, it’s time to play a fun animals pictionary game to practice some more.
Activity 1: Is that a tiger?
In this game to practice animal vocabulary, one student will draw an animal on the board while the other students guess what it is.
Before playing this game, teach the students how to ask and answer the question ‘Is that a (giraffe)?
Once students have practiced enough, invite one student up to the front to draw an animal. Show one of the animal flashcards to the student and give them 10 seconds to try to draw the animal. As the student is drawing, encourage the other students to count down from 10 together.
After 10 seconds, choose a student to guess what animal it is. When guessing students should ask ‘Is that a (lion)?’, and the student at the front should answer ‘Yes, it is.’ or ‘No, it isn’t.’ The student who guesses correctly, then gets to come to the front and draw the next animal.
Activity 2: Board Game – Race Around The World
This next activity is a fun printable board game for students to play in pairs. Print this animals board game and give one to each pair of students.
In this game students will ‘race around the world’ while naming the animals in the picture. One student will race clockwise and one student will race anti-clockwise.
To play, students should first place their eraser at the starting point. Next, the kids should play rock, scissors, paper. The winning student can then move their one square.
Then the students should have a dialogue based on the animal picture which is in that square. For example, one student should ask ‘What’s that?’ and the other student can answer ‘It’s an elephant.’.
Next, the students will play rock, scissor, paper again and repeat. The first student to make it all the way around the world is the winner.
Activity 3: Animals Guessing Game
This final activity is one of Games4esl’s popular activity videos. It’s an animals guessing game in which an animal outline is slowly revealed on screen. Students should try to guess what the animal is before the answer is revealed.
To play, simply show the video in class. When students are ready to guess, pause the video. When guessing, students should use the target language from the lesson. For example, ‘Is that a giraffe?’
To wrap up the class, review the key words and expressions and check students’ understanding. A great way to do this is with a ‘door check’ activity.
Ask students to line up at the door. Using the animals flashcards, choose one and don’t show the students. Then, ask the students one by one to guess what animal card you are holding by using the key expression ‘Is that a (tiger)?’.
Give each student 3 guesses and if they guess correct, they can go. If they guess wrong, they must go to the back of the line. This activity is a great way to review with each student individually and to check their understanding of the lesson.