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Fun ESL Activity - Everyday Survival Items

Updated on May 2, 2015

Fun ESL Activity - Everyday Survival Items



Do you know that everyday items you find around the house or on the street can be used to save your life in a survival situation?

This fun ESL activity is about the fascinating uses of some of the most innocent-looking survival items we can find in our homes.


2 Matching exercises

A fun speaking activity

Levels: intermediate, upper-intermediate and advanced

Time: 60 minutes


  1. First match the words to the definitions. These words appear in the second part of the exercise, so need to be done first.
  2. Then read the situations and choose an object you think can be used most appropriately.
  3. For the speaking activity, put students into groups of 4 and have them discuss household objects included in the text. To make the speaking activity more competitive, ask the groups to write down a few ideas for each object. Then, at the end of the activity, each group must read out what their uses are. Each team gets a point for an idea. If a team creates a unique use that none of the other teams have, then they get 2 points.

1. Match the words to the definitions

Fish hooks
  1. Thick plastic cover that protects from the rain.

  2. To take something apart.

  3. A piece of curved glass that forms an image.

  4. To make something smooth or shiny.

  5. Rubbing 2 objects together.

  6. Moisture from the air that develops during the night.

  7. A sharp metal hook that catches fish.

  8. Material that burns very easily.

  9. Mental suffering or anguish.

  10. Fibres that comes from cotton or linen.

  11. A soft green plant that likes shady areas.

  12. Has the ability to reflect light, sound or energy.

2. Which item could be used for which situation?

Garbage bag
Dental Floss
Soda Can
  1. Collect and filter water through this object making it safer to drink.

  2. Use these to reflect the rays of the sun to generate a distress signal.

  3. Cut a hole in this item and put it over your body to act as a rain jacket. Alternatively, you can use this to protect your body from the sun.

  4. You need a rounded lens and it should be made of glass to start a fire.

  5. They keep your feet warm and dry.

  6. It can be used as a fishing line.

  7. If you scrape off the lint you can start a fire with it.

  8. You can start a fire with this item if you rub chocolate on the bottom and polish it until it looks like a mirror. It makes a good reflective surface which will help you light tinder.

  9. Dismantle and bend the wire frames to make hooks or tools.

  10. A part of this object can be used as fishhooks. Bend it, cut it and sharpen it, then attach it to a shoelace and use it as a fishing line.

  11. This item can be used to collect and store rainwater. You could also find drinking water by collecting the morning dew from plants.

  12. You can fill this item with leaves or moss and use it as a pillow or mattress. Or it can simply be used as a groundsheet to lie on.

  13. You can use this to make a splint in case you damage or break a bone.

  14. Build a shelter with this item. You need 2 of them. Tie them to trees and place a tarpaulin over them and you have a homemade tent.

  15. Fill this object with snow or dig a hole and place the item inside. It can then be used to collect rainwater.

  16. You can use this to start a fire, using friction. This is known as the bow-and-drill method.

Speaking Activity


Speaking Activity - Group Work

Can you think of some more everyday household items that can be used in a survival situation? Look at the items below. Explain what you would do with these:

  • Can opener
  • Spoon
  • Jacket
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Paperclip
  • Magazine
  • Screwdriver
  • An empty tin of tuna
  • A metal clothes horse
  • Some nails
  • A sieve
  • A needle and thread
  • A potato peeler
  • Computer cable
  • A tablecloth
  • A basket
  • A knitting needle and some wool
  • Sellotape/Scotch tape
  • A children’s toy of your choice
  • A lampshade
  • A clothes peg
  • A fork

Answers for Teachers


  1. Tarpaulin

  2. Dismantle

  3. Lens

  4. Polish

  5. Friction

  6. Dew

  7. Fishhooks

  8. Tinder

  9. Distress

  10. Lint

  11. Moss

  12. Reflective


  1. Socks

  2. Glasses

  3. Garbage bag

  4. Glasses

  5. Socks

  6. Dental floss/shoelaces

  7. Socks

  8. Soda can

  9. Glasses

  10. The tab from a soda can

  11. Soda can

  12. Garbage bag

  13. Shoelaces

  14. Shoelaces

  15. Garbage bag

  16. Shoelaces

© 2015 Muttface


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