Teaching: Connective Tennis


Quick activity/ game for developing ideas ahead of essay planning. I did this with year 7 and it worked excellently as an initial brainstorming session. We were at the very initial stages of developing a mind-map for the essay question – ‘Does Victor Frankenstein deserve our sympathy?’

Step 1:

Ask students to think of at least one point in support of the given question, and at least one against. This stage is crucial, as they need ammunition to bring to the game itself. I like to give a little time to jot ideas, and wait for everyone to catch up.

Step 2:

Form a standing circle. If no room, you can do it sitting. Your call.

Step 3:

Someone goes into the middle and starts with a point. Eg: “I think Frankenstein is brave, because he takes risks.”

The game is then simple. This person chooses someone else who must continue/ develop the idea, starting with one of the following connective phrases:


“As well as this…”

“Because of this…”

Step 4:


The beauty of this is that it’s competitive and interactive, and highlights the importance of extending ideas. Variants include:

  • Playing in pairs in a ‘tennis’ style exchange
  • Scribing what is said in the style of a collective letter
  • Putting the class into teams, each given a particular connective phrase which they must use collaboratively to respond to other teams’ points

That’s it. More soon,


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