Dec 3, 2011

When the cat's away...

There is a widespread belief among teachers that collocations are only reserved for higher levels. Likewise, there is a popular misconception that authentic video can only be used with higher levels. This short and fun activity proves otherwise. It is based on a film clip, it focuses on collocations and it’s aimed at Elementary level students.



You will need a DVD of the animated film “Flushed Away”. The scene starts at 1:17 (“when the cat’s away the mice will play”) and ends at 3:14 (“Goodnight”). Or use the Youtube clip below:

Click here to download COLLOCATION CARDS

or do this ONLINE QUIZ 

Make a few copies of the page and cut it up so that you have at least one set for a group of 3-4 students.


Give students collocation cards and ask them to match the verbs with the nouns they go with.

While watching Watch & Observe

Tell students to watch the clip and put the cards in the right order – the order the main character (the Mouse) does the activities. Tell them they might not need all the cards that’s why they should pay attention as they watch.

Go through the answers with the whole class. The should have used all the cards except for ride a bike.  Highlight the difference between drive (a car) and ride (a bike, horse)



As an extension activity you can focus on adverbs of frequency (and their position in a sentence) and ask students to say something about themselves using the collocations above and the following adverbials:

very often

once/twice a day/week

every day

hardly ever


e.g. I never play golf. It’s for rich people.

I brush my teeth twice a day.


Syllabus fit

The activity can be used to supplement most Elementary textbooks which have a unit on daily routines or leisure activities.



For stronger students / classes you can include more collocations in each set, which means there will be more false clues for the video clip. These can be other collocations you’ve studied in class or other daily activities. This will also give students more language for the post-activity.

Click here to download COLLOCATION CARDS- EXTENDED 

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