In the BrainPOP ESL movie, An Egg and an Igloo (L1U3L1), Ben and Moby enjoy a picnic in the park until the weather threatens the day. Ben uses the articles (a / an / the) as he and Moby unpack their lunches. In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-8, students use examples to explain the difference between definite and indefinite articles.
- Sort new vocabulary words into categories and explain their decisions.
- Respond to a sentence prompt using the indefinite articles a or an.
- Contrast the indefinite articles a and an, and determine the difference between the use of definite and indefinite articles.
apple, banana, cookie, egg, igloo, onion, sandwich, umbrella
Gather pictures or actual food items from the movie: a banana, an apple, an onion, a sandwich, a cookie, an egg, an ice cream sandwich. You may also add other items.
- Prepare enough word cards for each pair of students of the 12 words from the new vocabulary list, to use for the Word Sort activity.
- Open Word Sort. Have students do the Word Sort before providing any explicit instructions of the grammar topic, definite and indefinite articles. Working in pairs, students sort the words (without their articles) into any categories that make sense to them. Make sure the students talk about their ideas, and then share them when they come together as a class. If no one has made categories with the indefinite articles, then introduce the concept.
What’s in the Basket? When you show the movie An Egg and an Igloo (L1U3L1) for the first time, pause right after Ben says, “OK, let’s go.” Ask students to predict where Ben and Moby are going.
After showing the movie, ask students what Ben and Moby brought in their lunchboxes, using the indefinite articles a or an. Then display pictures or realia of additional items that you brought to class, including the basket, bag, or lunchbox. Invite volunteers to choose an item, name it with its indefinite article (a / an), and place it in the basket or lunchbox. As the students name each item, write -- or invite a student to write-- the name of each item in two columns on the board, according to the indefinite article (a or an). Ask the students what they think the difference is between a and an. This is also a good time to review the vowels.
- We’re Going on a Picnic. Ask students to think of, or draw, items they would bring to a picnic. Write the prompt on the board: “We’re going on a picnic and I’m bringing a/an ______________.” Do a roundrobin chain with each student adding an item. Begin with the two items in the Igloo and Umbrella Image Encourage students to think beyond food items, such as a ball, a hat, a friend, an easy book. As the students respond, they repeat what each student said, and then add their own item. For example: Jenny is bringing an apple, Carlos is bringing a guitar, and I'm bringing a ball.
- Why the? Show the movie again and tell students to pay attention to the use of the word the. Pause the movie each time Ben uses the word the, or ask the students to signal when they hear Ben say the word. Discuss why Ben uses the definite article the in these examples, rather than the indefinite articles a or an. What is the difference in these sentences and situations?