Teaching with songs: Birds – Imagine Dragons [a Lesson Plan for English Language Teaching]


This song-based activity lesson plan for English language teaching features the song Birds by Imagine Dragons and its animated music video. Students talk about music and the band Imagine Dragons, do a google search race in groups, participate in a running dictation (biography race), play a kahoot! (optional),  watch a video, write a short narrative, do a listening exercise with the lyrics (optional) and talk about the song and the video.

Language level:  (A2+) and above
Learner type: All ages
Skills: speaking, reading, listening and writing
Topics: Music and life backgrounds
Language: Vocabulary related to music, instruments and bands
Materials: Youtube video, worksheets and mp3 file, mobile devices and Internet access (for the google search race and the optional kahoot!)
Duration: 1 hour - 1h 30 min
Downloadable materialsinstructions; Google search worksheet; 
Biography Race Text + group Questions worksheet; Lyrics worksheet; song mp3


Part 1 Warm-up and Google Search Race

Step 1. Ask students what they know about the band Imagine dragons. Have them share as a class any information they have about the band. Here’s some info you can share with your students:

Imagine Dragons is an American pop rock band from Las Vegas, formed in 2008, consisting of Dan Reynolds, Wayne Sermon, Ben McKee, and  Daniel Platzman. The band first gained exposure with the release of their single "It's Time", followed by their award-winning debut studio album Night Visions (2012),  Their second studio album was Smoke + Mirrors (2015), the third, Evolve (2017) and their fourth studio album Origins, was released on November 9, 2018

Step 2. Divide students into groups of 3. Hand out the google search race worksheet (1 per group). Have students name the instruments in the worksheet and ask students if anyone plays them and for how long. If there are students who don’t play any musical instrument, ask them which of the instruments in the worksheet they would like to play and why. 

Step 3. Tell your students that the names in the worksheet are of the current band members. The groups’ task is to find out what instrument each band member plays. In order to do this, they will need to use their smartphones for a google search race! Make sure each group has at least one smartphone and access to the Internet for this activity. 

The group which gets all the right information first is the winner!

Answers: Dan Reynolds (4)  Wayne Sermon (1) Ben McKee (3) Daniel Platzman (2)

Part 2 – Running Biography Race

Step 4. Divide the class into groups of 3 (it can be the same groups from part 1)

Step 5 Write the team names on the board so you can keep score to see who wins. 

Step 6Hand out the Running Biography Race worksheet with the questions about the band members (one for each group)

Step 7.  Instructions for the race: Place the Biography race text on a wall outside the classroom (one for each group if possible).

Each group has “runners” and “writers”. These roles change so each student gets to play all the roles. The groups decide who starts as a runner or writer.

The runners have to go outside the class, read the information on the wall and go inside again to dictate the answers to the writers (OBS, one question per student – one at a time – if the students forget the piece of information they can go back to get it right – the next student can only go when the question has already been answered). 

The group that finishes first gets a bonus of 2 points

Step 8. Correct the questions – give 5 points to each right answer

Answer key
1- Where was Dan Reynolds born? (Las Vegas, Nevada) 
2- Who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? (dan Reynolds and Wayne Sermon)
3- Who is from California? (Ben McKee) 
4- When did Dan Reynolds get married? (2011)
5 - Who married a ballerina? (Wayne Sermon)
6- Who is Aja Volkman’s husband? (Dan Reynolds)
7 - Who didn’t attend the Berklee College of Music? (dan Reynolds)
8 - Who learned to play the cello? (Wayne sermon)
9 - Who composed music for a documentary? (Daniel Platzman)
10 - Who worked as a missionary? (Dan Reynolds)

Step 9. (optional) If it’s possible for you to play a kahoot! game with your students, keep reading step 10. Otherwise, go to part 3 (step 12)

Step 10 Warn your students that they will have 2 minutes to memorize the information on the worksheets to play a kahoot! game based on the questions. 

Step 11. When the time is up, have students put away the worksheets. They cannot look at them to answer the questions in the kahoot game! The link for the Kahoot is here. Have fun!

.Part 3 – Music Video + Writing a short narrative

Step 12. Tell students they are going to watch the Music Video for one of Imagine Dragons’ songs titled Birds. As they watch the video for the first time, they work in pairs to find a musical instrument and two pieces of sports equipment in the scenes from the video.

Answers: acoustic guitar (in the boy’s room, a soccer ball (a boy is holding it at the playground) a baseball ball (in the drawer)

Step 13. Students watch the video again, this time ask them to pay attention to the story because they are going to rewrite it in a short narrative.

Step 14. In pairs, students write a short narrative retelling the story in the video. Give them about 10  min. 

Step 15. The pairs share their narratives with the whole class. Ask students what they think will happen after the ending of the music video and why. Have a discussion.

Step 16. Optional activity: Lyrics worksheet – Listening activity

Hand out the lyrics worksheet. Students listen to the song and number the lines in verses 1 and 2 in the correct order 

Answer key: verse 1: (6, 2, 5, 1, 4, 3) verse 2: (3, 2, 5, 4, 1, 6)

Step 17. Ask students to work in pairs and decide if the music video matches the ideas in the lyrics and if so, to explain how. After some time, students share their answers with the class. Have a discussion.

This song-based lesson plan is sure to spice up your classes! However, would you like to think, feel and act more creatively on your own to be able to turn ANY song you want into an engaging lesson plan?
HERE are TIME-SAVING ideas that do the heavy work so you can focus on the most important: INSPIRING and MOTIVATING YOUR STUDENTS to learn CREATIVELY!


That’s it for this week! I hope this activity is helpful and enjoyable! 


SUBSCRIBE to SAF’s FREE MUSIC CHANNEL (Copyright Free Music for Teachers!)



Happy teaching!  🙂


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