Fun Ideas for a Growing Up ESL Lesson for Elementary Students

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Circle of Life

First and second grade ESL students are enthusiastic when given an opportunity to discover the stages of development and the concept of life cycles through vocabulary use as well as interactive lesson plans.


  • Students will investigate the growth cycles and will record their own.
  • Students will identify, comprehend and use vocabulary related to the development of life including the associated stages.

Let’s Learn

Task One:

Brainstorm with students words connected with growing. If they have difficulty articulating these words in English, assist them drawing on the board or showing a picture of an egg, a baby chick, a child, etc. Have students repeat the list of vocabulary words. These cycles can include:

  • egg, chick, chicken
  • egg, pollywog or tadpole, frog/toad
  • seed, sprout, seedling, plant/flower
  • baby, child, teenager, young adult, adult

Have available examples of these stages of development, such as eggs, pictures of tadpoles, toy frogs or chickens, seeds, baby pictures, etc.

Give each student a seed, have them put it in a clear cup with a paper towel balled up to hold the seed against the side. Wet the towel and place the cups in the window. Watch the seed go from a seed, to sprout, to seedling. If possible, plant the seedlings in dirt so that the students can watch them flower.

Task Two:

Have them fill-in the names of various growth cycles pictured on a handout. Reinforce vocabulary by asking the students to create a growth chart for a chicken, frog/toad, flower or person. Allow students to use various means to accomplish this task. If computers are available, they can use clipart. They can cut pictures from magazines or they can draw the stages.

Task Three:

Have students create a timeline of their own developmental milestones. This gives an opportunity to introduce action words such as, crawling, speaking, walking, grasping, etc.

Timelines can take various forms. If students have access to pictures from home, they can use photos. They can cut pictures from old magazines. They can also draw pictures to show their growth milestones.

Have the students share their milestone timelines, explaining each picture to the class.

Task Four:

Mind map different occupations adults have. Have students create pictures on what they want to be when they grow up. Remind them that they have several occupations. Allow them to draw several. Create an interactive wall for the students. Make two columns - one with the name/picture of the student and one on which the students can place a name or picture of what they want to be when they grow up.


Grade students on their ability to recognize the words taught, their ability to use words correctly and their comprehension of the stages of growth. Use a rubric to track student progress with a scale from 1 to 5. (1 = did not achieve goal, 5 = achieved goal) The goal of each task would be:

  • Task One: Learn vocabulary
  • Task Two: Create a chart showing life cycle
  • Task Thee: Create timeline using correct terms
  • Task Four: Participation in interactive wall

Just For Fun

Scaffold onto this growing up ESL lesson by having some fun with singing and videos. Songs and videos about pollywogs, chicks and flowers can all add to student comprehension of the terms as well as give students opportunities to practice their language skills.

References and Resources


Content is from author’s own experience.