This is an adaptation of the popular game we all played as children when we had to pick up matching pictures, but in this activity we use the two parts of collocations.

Shaun Dowling


During regular classes, note down the word combinations that come up. Then put each part of the collocation on two separates pieces of paper. Here is an example I had when we were talking about the environment. The word combinations were:

ozone layer
oil spills
environmentally friendly
cut down trees
polar ice-caps

The first part of each phrase should be written on one coloured sheet of paper or, if you haven't got coloured paper, in a different coloured pen. Then with a different coloured pen, or paper, write the second part of the phrase, for example, 'ozone' on the first and 'layer' on the second.  


  • Put all of the first parts of each phrase together, face down on the floor. Then mix up the second group of words / phrases face down in a separate group to the first.
  • In groups students work together to pick up one piece of paper from each group so as to make a phrase from the previous class.
  • As the students match them up incorrectly students start to recall the correct collocation or phrase.
  • The activity is fun which also aids efficient memorising of the target language. The more opportunities we allow our students to see the words the more likely they are to actually have them 'stuck in their heads' for easy access at a later stage.
Language level
Language Level: 
Beginner: A1

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