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Rube Goldberg Activity
Ian Kime
August 21, 2021

Rube Goldberg Activity

I put this activity together to practice motion verbs in English with my B2/C1 discussion groups and slowly but surely whittled it down to something reasonable. This is not an easy activity and will definitely challenge your more advanced students.

While most of our activities are printable, it would be pretty difficult to print this one. It’s a GIF-based lesson today, folks. Let’s get rollin’.

How it works

  1. Watch the YouTube video at 100% speed and then ask “What is the purpose of this invention?”;
  2. Watch the video again at 100% speed and ask your students to write down as many of the everyday objects they see during the video in the chat;
  3. Look at the vocabulary list they’ve created. Now, showcase some of the words they might have missed! I usually pause the video and use the ZOOM annotate tool to highlight different objects for this part. For example:
    • fly swatter
    • sponge
    • beaker
    • gas canister
    • vase
    • shoe horn (the thing that pulls down the vase)
    • (hamster) cage
    • etc.
  4. Move on to the vocabulary exercise down below. Here you’ve got a gallery of GIFs illustrating different movements. Underneath that you’ll see the vocabulary list. Students match the GIF with the verb, boom, presto, shebang, fini;
  5. Do a barrel roll! Do a lightning round with your students, flip through the GIFs faster and faster getting them to match the word to the GIF. Once they seem pretty okay with the situation, move ooooonnnnn;
  6. The fun part. Let’s get back to the video. Gosh, I hope you can guess what we’re gonna do. That’s right. TURN THAT SOUND OFF AND BRING THE SPEED DOWN TO 25%! Oh jeez…
  7. Your students will watch the video at 25% speed and do their best to write down (or say out loud) what the heck is happening in this silly machine.
  8. Did they get lost? Are they frustrated? Little column A little column B? Let them have at it again. Round 2 baby!
  9. Compare students’ instructions for the machine. Laugh a lot with your students.




VOCAB bounce drag drop fall
flip float hit knock over pour
pull push release roll slide
spin wobble level tilted blow


Ian Kime

Ian Kime

I have been teaching English abroad since receiving my CELTA certificate in Poland in 2018. I enjoy tracking my individual students’ development but love having lessons with big groups! Now that I teach online, I am accompanied by my sidekicks Olaf, Mała, Pirate and Bandit on a regular basis.


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