Alice Savage

Using Secret Images to practice the Imperative

Beginning-level students benefit greatly when we add kinesthetic activities to help them practice the grammar they have learned. Below is a drawing-and-guessing activity from our new book, 60 Kinesthetic Grammar Activities (Alphabet Publishing) that gives students an opportunity to practice the imperative in a fun and meaningful way. The activity can easily be adapted to a socially-distanced classroom with partners sitting face-to-face and six-feet apart.

Activity 19: The Imperative

THE GRAMMAR: The imperative is used to give commands, warnings, and advice. It is formed with the base form of the verb (no -s-ed, or -ing ending). The subject is you, but it is normally implied and not stated directly.  

Aim: Students use the imperative to help each other recreate secret images

Level: Beginner (B1)

Preparation: A small stack of drawing paper

Time: 15 minutes +


  1. Review the imperative by giving directions and having students follow them, e.g., stand up, point to the door, etc. and clarify form.
  2. Have students sit face-to-face in pairs. One student is the Describer and sits facing the board; the other student is the Drawer and has their back to the board. Give each pair two pieces of drawing paper.
  3. Tell students you will be drawing a scene on the board. Easy-to-draw scenes might include a house surrounded by trees and bushes, two stick figures sitting on a bench, a sunset in the mountains, or even an arrangement of various shapes (triangles, circles, rectangles, lines, diamonds, etc.).
  4. As you start drawing the scenes on the board, the Describers explain each step to the Drawers using the imperative to help them recreate it on their papers. For example:
    • Draw a long line at the bottom of the page. 
    • Draw a house near the center of the line. 
    • Give the house a door and three windows. Put one window next to the door. Put the other windows above the door.
    • Add a chimney to the top of the house. Have smoke coming out of it. 
    • Draw a tall tree to the right of the house. 
    • Draw two small bushes to the left of the house. 
  • When you have finished drawing the scene, ask the Drawers to bring their drawings to the front of the class and stand in a line. Have them hold up their drawings for the rest of the class to see. 
  • Have the class vote on the drawing that best recreated the original drawing on the board. Students will learn that the more specific their instructions are, the closer they will be to the original. 
  • Have a member of the winning team draw the next scene on the board. Have the other pairs switch roles and repeat steps 2-5.  To keep things safe, have them keep their own chairs when they switch places.
For more free activities or to buy your own copy of 60 Kinesthetic Grammar Activities, click this link.

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