Realia are real objects used in the classroom to help bring lessons and learning to life. They are a great way to enhance the learning experience, helping students process and remember new information.
The ability to touch, see and smell real life objects not only accommodates a wide variety of learning styles (we’ve covered these before) than more traditional methods, but also helps make information far more memorable.
It’s no surprise that realia exercises have proven extremely effective for ESL teaching. Giving students an interactive way to learn helps them pick up a new language far more quickly and easily.
In this guide, we take you through 40 realia exercises that you can implement in the classroom.
1. Tourist Information
Use maps, leaflets and tourist information pamphlets to help your students roleplay. Encourage them to ask questions related to tourism and getting directions.
2. Famous people
Get your students to bring in a photo of their favourite celebrity. Ask them to describe them in that particular photo.
3. Favourite food
Food is a great realia example because we perceive it with several different senses. Bring in food and allow your students to touch and smell it, describing what they’re experiencing.
4. Food packaging
Show your students examples of food packaging and ask them questions about the ingredients and product.
5. Hobby or activity
Get your students to do a presentation or demonstration on an object that represents their favourite hobby.
6. Family members
Ask your students to bring in a photograph of a family member and describe their relative’s appearance and personality traits.
7. Household Chores
Take a few common household cleaning items to class and give your students a demonstration of how they are used.
8. Pack your bags
Bring in a suitcase and objects to pack in your case. Talk through what the objects are called – whether it’s your passport or a piece of clothing.
9. Your daily routine
Act out your morning routine. You could bring in a toothbrush, and then pour a bowl of cereal.
10. Eating out
Collect some real English restaurant menus. Get your students to practice ordering a meal and drinks at a restaurant.
Timetables are a great realia example. Bring in real train or bus timetables and ask your students when the next train for London leaves.
12. Dress up
This works well if you’re working with young students. If your students are older, ask them to describe their current outfit. This reinforces colours, materials and articles of clothing.
13. Job interview
Gather some real examples of job applications and get your students to roleplay interviews in English.
14. Go shopping
Put together a makeshift shop by bringing in several inexpensive items. Ask your students to go shopping, describing each item they decide to purchase.
15. Go on holiday
Print out examples of plane, bus, or train tickets as well as sample documents like passports or driving licences.
16. Mystery Objects
Fill a bag with several objects and ask your students to pick them out at random. They can then describe the object to the class.
17. Favourite Animal
Get your students to bring in a replica of their favourite animal. Ask them to discuss its physical features, and why they like it.
18. Get Cooking
Bring in common kitchen equipment and pass the items round the class so everyone can touch and feel them.
19. Prepare a meal
Bring in a range of ingredients. Pretend to make a meal, describing cooking methods and food names.
Blindfold your students, give them an object and ask them to feel and describe it.
21. Postcard writing
Ask everyone to bring in a postcard and, pretending to be on holiday, have them to write to their friend in English.
22. Get Sporty
Bring in balls, rackets, bats and other sporting equipment. Pass the equipment around, or even organize a small game of catch.
Bring in a bag of clean recycling items. Ask your students to pick out items, explaining what they’re called and describing the material.
24. Desert Island
Pretend you’re stuck on a desert island. Ask your students to bring in 5 items they’d take with them if they had the choice.
25. Pencil Case
Pull out items from your pencil case. This helps learners identify and recognise everyday stationery items.
26. Talk about the weather
Bring in items that represent winter activities, such as a hat and scarf, and summer activities.
27. Teach Prepositions
Place an item (a ball, for example) on or under a table. Ask your students to describe where it is.
Have your students write out an email and send it to you.
Bring in English currency. Let your students touch and feel the money. You could then ask them to work out sums and change.
Present an assortment of medicine to your students, showing what each one is for, what it is called and how to ask for it.
Showing a calendar helps reinforce the months, days and numbers.
Analysing receipts helps students familiarise themselves with everyday objects and numbers.
Bring in a bag full of objects of different textures. Have each student pick an object and describe how it feels.
34. Table Manners
Set up a role play where your students at a restaurant, and ask them to practice ordering food and displaying their table manners.
Present students with an assortment of coloured pencils. Get them to draw a picture using each colour.
36. Spin a Globe
Bring in a globe, spin it and pick a country. Ask your students to tell you the name of that country.
37. Hot Drinks
Demonstrate how to make a cup of tea or coffee, pointing out what each item you’re using is called.
38. Charts and Graphs
Use charts and graphs and ask your students to solve problems and spot patterns.
39. Scavenger hunt
Hide objects around the classroom and send your students on a hunt to find them.
Bring in bedtime objects like nightlights and ask your students to describe their nighttime routine.