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Activity: Memory Acts

Theme: Memory/ Key Words

Activity: Memory Acts

A very simple, but effective, aid to memory. This can also be considered a “group” activity and demonstrates progress throughout the lesson. There is a little plenary at the end too! It is a really good first lesson for a new topic – but can be used at any stage in the teaching of a topic.

Aim: to help students remember a long list of Key Terms which can then, of course, be used when responding to questions on the topic.

Before the lesson:

  • Find a text which would be useful to your lesson. It could be from a text book or other article.

  • Find, and highlight, enough key terms so that you can allocate ONE to EACH pupil in your class.

  • Print enough copies of the article so that the pupils can have one copy each.

In the lesson:

  • Stand the whole class, including you, in a circle.

  • Explain that you are going to read the article but each time you come to a key word the next pupil in the circle will say that word/term instead of you.

  • By the time you have read the article once each pupil will have their own key word/term.

  • They must now put their papers aside.

  • You “narrate” again but each time you come to a key word the pupil must say it AND do an action that links to the word/term. The actions should be as memorable as possible.

  • Now you put your paper aside and you go round the group – moving quickly in order. There is no text this time – just the key words. Each pupil says and acts their word but this time the whole class must say every key word WITH the actor.

  • Now you have come to the penultimate round. This time you go round the circle but the actor does not say the word, he/she simply acts it and everyone else says it.

  • Last time round EVERYONE acts and says each word.

  • Now send them back to their seats and, in silence, get them to write down as many key words as they can remember. Most pupils will get all – or nearly all of them. You will see them looking round the room at people to try to remember the actions.

  • Now leave the activity and get on with teaching the rest of the lesson.

  • Two minutes before the end of the lesson get them to try to write the list again. They will surprise themselves how many term they remember.


Make the activity as fun as possible.

Pick a text which is not too long but is packed full of key terms.

Keep it moving quickly – it should only last about 10 minutes.

This works well with all ages and abilities.

You could adapt it in several ways: by allocating one sentence of the text to each pupil and getting them to choose the key word from that sentence; by not giving them the text at all – just giving them a key word and nodding to them when you have reached their word in the “story”; by varying the number of times you go round the circle.

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