ESL Creative Writing Activity: UFO Space Travel

Here’s a common problem I notice with high beginner+ L2 writing students: they don’t include enough details when describing people or places. This activity tackles that problem by demonstrating a simple strategy to help students identity and fill information gaps.

Writing Lesson Plan

You can get the full ESL writing lesson, with a much more complete set of learning outcomes, in this pdf file.

Step 1 Introduce Writing Activity

Tell students they are going to write a creative story based on a picture prompt. The exercise has two main objectives:

  • to write a coherent story with good organisation and paragraphs
  • to practice a pre-writing activity that asks students to find information needs by asking a few questions

esl writign activities ufo

Step 2 Review Writing Prompt

Copy or display the UFO picture prompt.

With the whole class, briefly brainstorm ideas (including nouns and verbs) for each picture.

Focus student attention on pictures 3 and 4. They lack detail.  This is where students need to add detail by asking questions. These questions might include:

  • What does the outside look like?
  • How big is the spaceship?
  • Why did the boy go inside?
  • What does the interior look like and smell like?
  • Who or what is inside the UFO?
  • What did the boy do inside the spaceship?
  • How did the boy react?

Asking questions, especially those that focus on sensory experiences or probe reasons for actions, can help students generate ideas and therefore lots of detail for their stories. This questioning strategy can also serve them well when they move on to more complex writing pieces.

Step 3 Students Write

Ask students to write a 1 to 2 pages creative story. Following picture prompt, the story needs a beginning, middle and thoughtful conclusion.

Teach writing and critical thinking skills

This UFO writing activity comes from my ebook Teach Writing Thinkingly. It contains 20 lessons with two broad aims.

The first part of the ebook presents creative writing activities with learning outcomes designed to help students improve composition style and organisation. The second part contains lessons that teach students specific language skills that help them write and evaluate arguments. Click HERE for details.

ESL writing lessons

Teach writing?

Get the ebook Teach Essential Writing Skills. Transform the quality of EFL student writing by focusing on four essential skills. Click here for details about the ebook that should be part of every writing teacher’s resource library.


Save time. Teach well.

Cut your lesson prep time with this colossal collection of ESL resources that stimulate language learning and critical thinking. Simplify your lesson planning because teaching should be a joy, not a chore.toolbox-front-cover-3d-book-8-8

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