At the funfair

Coming into a primary English lesson should always be about having fun. The fun should obviously always be grounded in learning, but it's important to always remember the enjoyment factor. This is why it's good to base your lessons on subjects that children will automatically relate to.

Jo Bertrand

Going to the funfair is an event that more and more children have experienced whether it be a day-trip to Disneyland or an hour at the travelling funfair and the large majority know and love the sweets, fast food, rides and balloons. For those children who haven't experienced a funfair it's important to help them understand the noises, the smells and the tastes that characterise a funfair atmosphere.


  • Introduce funfair lexical set (vocabulary group)
  • Raise awareness of American and English typical funfair foods
  • Give learners speaking practice
  • Provide a short project context for producing a creative poster
  • Introduce adjectives to describe funfair rides - exciting, big, scary, fun
  • Introduce /review comparatives


  • Hall of mirrors
  • Rollercoaster
  • Merry-go-round
  • Helter-skelter
  • Ghost train
  • The big wheel
  • Candy floss
  • Toffee apples
  • Corn dog 


  • A set of flashcards per child
  • Large A3 card for poster
  • Paper and coloured pens for decorating the posters
  • Photos of funfair food

Make flashcards
What's interesting about a funfair in an English classroom is how the rides and foods can be culturally specific. Remember as you introduce the vocabulary to ask the children to compare and make links to their own culture.

  • Make six flashcards of funfair rides and three of funfair foods so that everyone has their own set.
  • For each funfair ride flashcard have an element missing that the children have to complete. You could white out the horses on the merry-go-round or leave the mirrors empty ready for the children to draw their funny reflections. You could draw part of the ghost train and let them fill in the people sitting in the carriage.
  • Get them to complete each flashcard but progress from one card to the next together so that as they go along they are listening to the word and practising saying it, e.g. ‘Finish the helter skelter.' ‘Colour the helter skelter in green.'
  • When they have completed all six of the funfair rides then you can move onto the foods. Here you leave them blank and just keep the words for the older primary children. Here you will introduce the cultural differences. Ask them what they eat when they go to a funfair. In some countries they may not have ever been to a funfair so if you can show them actual photos of candy floss, corn dogs and toffee apples they can say whether they have similar foods in their country.
  • Then they can draw the pictures themselves.
  • Once they've got the completed cards you can play lots of different games with the flashcards such as pairs, snap, sticking them around the room and pointing or moving to them, to help them remember the words.

Design a funfair
Once they have activated the vocabulary and can remember most of it they can start putting it into a context.

  • Put the class into groups of four.
  • Give them a map of a funfair with the different rides missing. In their groups they have to decide what rides they would choose to have.
  • They are only allowed three rides and one food stall selling one food.
  • You will need to provide them with some language to be able to have a minimum of exchange. Teach them adjectives to describe the ride such as exciting, scary, etc and teach them regular and irregular comparatives such as such as bigger than, better than, more exciting than.
  • In groups this could be an ‘I like/don't like, I prefer' exchange where they have to decide together which rides and which food to sell.
  • Or you could draw a simplified map with four circles drawn so that they can complete the missing pictures.

Make a poster
Still in their groups of four now that they have designed their funfair they can design a poster to advertise it. Keep it simple and give them enough structure to help them create a great poster they will want to display. In their groups allocate a drawing and writing task to each of them. Each poster should have four written elements:

  1. title
  2. date
  3. place
  4. time

Each poster should have four pictures of three funfair rides and one funfair food.

  • Do a class poster as a demonstration so that they all understand what task they have to do. Give them alternative titles, times, dates and places for them to choose from and leave them on the board. This could be when you introduce telling the time or review it if you've already taught it to them. As with the date you can bring it up in every class. ‘What time is it?' ‘Three o'clock.'
  • From the demonstration they should understand that there are four pictures and they allocate themselves who draws what.
  • They can draw their pictures onto separate pieces of paper and stick them onto the poster to display

Going to the fair
Using the posters that are now displayed around the room they can go in their groups to visit other funfairs. If you have four groups of four then you can do an exchange where group A visits group B's funfair and then vice versa, while group C and group D are doing the same role-play exchange.

  • The roles are three ride workers and one food seller.
  • The language they will use is ‘Two tickets please.' ‘One euro please.' ‘Three toffee apples please.' etc.
  • Practise the language exchange before as a whole class before they split up into their groups.

Here is a chant which you can act out with your learners. You will need to explain with drawings that to go down a helter skelter you need a mat. So when you are singing and miming the song be sure to mime holding the mat as you climb the stairs and sitting on it as you slide down.

Helter Skelter up we climb,
Helter Skelter say the rhyme.
Helter Skelter down we slide,
We all love this funfair ride.

You could than produce a class chant providing them with a first sentence they have to find rhymes for, using one of the other funfair rides. For example;

The big wheel round we go
The big wheel...

Language Level

Research and insight

Browse fascinating case studies, research papers, publications and books by researchers and ELT experts from around the world.

See our publications, research and insight