Number one for English language teachers

Teenagers: Writing: Brainstorming

Type: Reference material

Thinking of good ideas and vocabulary is often not something students do well, especially in exams. This skill can be developed in class. It is a good warmer before students do some writing on the topic.

Don’t be boring, use interesting vocabulary and ideas!

  • Write a topic on the board e.g. crime and get students to call out either good words or plot ideas for a story (gun, scar, bandit, threaten, bank robbery, kidnap etc). Collect those words and if students are not sure of the meaning, clarify.

  • Get students into four groups, give out one big sheet of paper per group, like this:  


  • Ask students to write down as many words appropriate to the composition topic.

  • After a few minutes, students pass around their paper, so groups read others’ ideas and add their own. Do this again and until all groups have written on each sheet of paper.

  • Clarify any words that students are not sure of. You don’t need to do this, the students who wrote the word can.

My cat is a … cat

In a circle students say the core sentence, but each student has to think of a different adjective to describe the cat. The first must start with A, the second with B and the third with C etc. Other nouns can be used depending on the topic of the composition that will be written later, ‘my school is a...‘, ‘the bank robbery was a...‘ etc.

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