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Exploding Texts - Creative Writing and Grammar Exercise for ESL Classes

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Taking short bits of texts and expanding them in different ways is a fun activity that will help students improve both their grammar and creative writing skills. Telescopic Text demonstrates this technique and is a lot of fun.

Here is an example of an exploding, telescoping or expanding text:

He is a boy.
He is a nice boy.
He is a nice boy who comes from London.
He is the nice boy from London who helped me with my project.
He is the nice boy from London who helped me with my science project.
He is the nice boy from London who helped me get an A on my science project.

You get the idea!

You can ask students to work on exploding texts in a general manner, or in a more grammar specific way to help them become more familiar with function. For example:

He is a boy. - Please modify the proper noun.
He is a nice boy. - Please provide a dependent clause to modify the proper noun.
He is a nice boy who comes from London. etc.

Here are three exploding text exercises for in class use:

Exploding Texts - Creative Writing

Use one of the following sentences and 'explode' the text to make more and more complex sentences. Try to write five sentences that build on the previous sentence.

Example

I have a book.
I have an interesting book.
I have an interesting book about frogs.
I bought an interesting book about frogs last week.
I bought an interesting, but expensive book about frogs at The Book Shoppe last Monday.

Choose from one of these sentences:

She lives alone.
They have a house.
John works in town.
I am young.
School is important.

Exploding Texts - Grammar Practice

Use a sentence and expand the text in a way that matches each instruction given to you by your teacher.

Example

They eat lunch.
- Use an adverb to describe how often they eat lunch
They usually eat lunch.
- Use an adverb to describe how they eat lunch.
They usually eat lunch quickly.
- Use a dependent clause to modify lunch.
They usually eat lunch, which they have brought from home, quickly.
etc.

Exploding Texts - Answering Questions

Begin with a sentence and explode it based upon the questions asked by your teacher. Remember to continue to expand the sentence with each question you answer.

Example

Peter lives here.
- How long?
Peter has lived here for five years.
- What's his address?
Peter has lived at 24 Red Street for five years.
- Who's Peter?
Peter, who is a good friend of mine, has lived at 24 Red Street for five years.
etc.

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