Hidden Relations

Hidden Relations is a way to get your class into groups using a more extended vocabulary activity.


Suppose you want to divide your class into 5 groups of 3 students each. You need to prepare 5 sets of cards and each set will consist of 3 cards. On those cards write related words.

For example, for a low intermediate level class, you could prepare 5 simple sets like this:

Set 1: apple, pear, banana
Set 2: football, cricket, basketball
Set 3: doctor, teacher, lawyer
Set 4: hat, scarf, shoe
Set 5: red, yellow, black

The words you use should be of an appropriate level for the class.

Running the Activity

In the classroom shuffle the cards and give them out to the students. Tell them they simply have to mingle with the other students asking questions and showing cards, until they find their 2 matches.

When everyone has found their matches and they are in small groups you can continue the lesson however you wish.


To begin with this is quite straightforward. It’s good to play it a few times so the students get the hang of the way the activity works. Then you can begin to make changes to create a much more intensive activity.

The first step is to tweak the sets so they’re not so obvious. For example:

  • grass, envy, tree (they’re all green)
  • run, eat, dive (all irregular verbs)

Or you could play with the words themselves rather than the meaning:

Set 1: tie, car, hat
Set 2: pear, plum, kiwi
Set 3: fruit, chair, table
Set 4: orange, banana, teacher
Set 5: football, linesman, laborer

This list above is dependent on the number of letters in each word. You can also have lists:

  • beginning with the same letter
  • ending with the same letter
  • with certain vowel or double letter, combinations, etc…
  • being the same class of words, e.g. nouns or verbs, etc…

In other words, you make your students work harder to find the connection between the words. In some cases it’s also fun to have words which fit into more than one category, for example:

  • orange fits with:
    • red, yellow
    • pear, plum

Posted in Lesson Plans & Activities.

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