“I don’t know how to undo this.”

Browsing on Vine this morning, I found myself watching another short clip that made me go ‘Huh?’

This activity is based on another video that fits into the category of ‘Vine magic’. However, this time the key to understanding what you see is not down to the use of careful editing. Rather it seems there is more in the set up of this one – more planning, probably more equipment. Make sure you don’t reveal the clip too soon, as it’s first going to be used in a video telling activity.

A walk in the front garden

Level Pre-intermediate +
Type of student Teenagers, Young adults, Adults
Language Modals of speculation in present and past
Skills Listening, Speaking, Writing


  • Ask you students to describe their gardens to each other, and in particular ask them if they have a front garden.
  • You could ask them to draw a simple picture of each other’s gardens while they listen to each other’s descriptions. The pictures can then be checked to see how close they are to actual gardens described (maybe with students using pictures on their phones).
  • If your students don’t have a garden – for example, if they live in a flat or apartment – ask them to describe a green space that they know (something like a park or field).

Main stage

  • Pre-teach/check your students know the following vocabulary: front garden, tree, bark, front door (of a house), strolling, confused, baseball cap.
  • Put your students into pairs and give them seven pieces of A6 paper (tear a piece of A4 into quarters). Ask them to write one of the vocabulary items on each piece of paper, in large letters.
  • Tell your students that you are going to tell the story of a short video clip and that there is something unusual that they have to guess about at the end. Tell them that during the story you will pause at certain points and they should hold up the word they think is needed to complete that part of the story.

There’s a young guy walking, and he’s walking in the … [front garden] … It’s bright, and he’s wearing a … [baseball cap] … to shield his eyes from the sun. As he’s walking, he’s filming himself, and behind him we can see all the … [front doors] … of the houses in the street. He isn’t walking very fast at all, he’s just … [strolling] … around a … [tree] … but something isn’t right. He can feel the … [bark] … of the tree but there is something unusual happening and he has a … [confused] look on his face.

  • Give your students five minutes to retell the story to each other, using the words on their pieces of paper to help them.
  • Then ask your students the question: What is unusual about this story and this video clip?
  • Give them five more minutes to come up with some ideas. Then watch the clip to check.

Video stage

Post-video stage

  • Now for the real challenge – ask your students to come up with an explanation about how Tom managed to film this video clip (be careful not to show all the comments if you view this on the Vine site, as they might give the game away).
  • Possible answers include: the number of shots in this Vine (three), how they are edited together (close-up of Tom’s face, close-up of his feet, long shot of him walking round the tree), how many people were involved in the shoot (at least two), holding onto a wire (it looks like he is holding something with his right hand in the long shot), and anything else your students can come up with and explain.
  • Some useful language to focus on here is modals of speculation and other phrases for making guesses:
    • It could be a trick video. No wait, it must be fake!
    • He might be holding a wire. It wouldn’t be possible to walk around like that otherwise.
    • Maybe there’s more than one person involved. Perhaps someone else filmed him walking round the tree.

Follow up

  • This is probably the kind of Vine that you don’t really want your students to try to emulate, so a health warning: DO NOT ATTEMPT ANYTHING YOU SEE IN THIS VINE.

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