Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In the BrainPOP ELL movie What Nikki Wants (L3U6L3), Ben, a true friend, comes over to help Nikki who is suffering from a bad  cold. At first Nikki is grateful for his efforts, but soon her demands spin out of control, leaving Ben feeling exhausted and unappreciated… until the very end. In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-8, students take note of the questions and demands written by Nikki and reported by Ben, and practice reported questions in various listening, speaking, and writing activities.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Create a matching game illustrating six academic vocabulary words from the lesson.
  2. Role-play a press conference and report the questions that were asked.
  3. Find and sequence the requests and commands from the movie, restating them in reported speech.



Demand, order, request, infer, examine, respond, complicate.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. What I Want. Before watching the movie What Nikki Wants (L3U6L3), ask students what they do when they are sick. Are they good patients or are they demanding? Have students imagine that they are sick and someone is taking care of them, such as a parent, brother or sister, or a friend. Have them imagine that their throat hurts and they can’t talk, so they have to write everything down. Distribute index cards for students to write questions they might ask or things they might say.
    For example, Will you bring me some water? / Leave me alone.
    Then in pairs, have students exchange their cards, and report their partner’s requests and demands to the class.
    For example, Katie asked me to bring her some water. She also told me to leave her alone.
  2. Nikki’s Notes. Tell students that Nikki writes ten notes to Ben in this movie. Have students write each note on a separate sheet of paper or index card. Students may view the movie again, to identify the ten notes. You can use these notes in different ways:
    -Students copy the notes that Nikki wrote.
    -Students sequence them according to the movie, and retell the story.
    -Students go through the notes, stating Nikki’s demands and requests in reported speech.
    -Students place the notes in order, from polite request to rude demand.
  3. What Did Ben Say? In the Grammar movie from What Nikki Wants (L3U6L3), Ben is texting with his mother. Pause the movie after each text, and have students relate the question or command to Moby before Ben says it. Then continue the movie for students to check their questions and commands. You can keep a chart on the board that shows the backshift of tenses and the changes in time and place for reported speech.
  4. Press Conference. To practice reporting questions, ask a volunteer to play the role of a famous person. It can be someone from entertainment, sports, politics, history, etc. Invite the volunteer to sit in the front of the room as the class conducts a press conference by asking the volunteer questions. When the press conference is over, ask students to recall (either written or orally) all the questions the class asked, and the volunteer’s answers, as if they are reporting on the press conference. For example, Mario asked what her favorite food was. She told us that her favorite food was pizza.
  5. Report the Commands. To practice reporting commands, invite a volunteer to the front of the class. Give the volunteer a series of commands. For example, Stand up. Go to the board. Write your name. Return to your seat. Then ask the class what you just told the volunteer to do. You can repeat the activity with partners giving orders to each other.
  6. Match the Words! Have students make a game to practice the academic vocabulary words from this movie (demand, order, request, infer, examine, respond, complicate). Distribute 12 index cards to each student. On six of the cards, students illustrate the six academic words. They can be creative about how they depict the words, drawing or cutting and pasting photos from magazines or the Internet. Examples might include situations that convey the meaning of a word, such as a scientist looking in a microscope for “examine,” or a challenging math problem for “complicated.” Have students write the six words on the remaining index cards. Students may watch the Vocabulary movie from the lesson for more help with the words. Then have students exchange their card sets with a partner, and challenge each other to match the word cards to the illustrations.
  7. Chart the Words! During a repeated viewing of What Nikki Wants (L3U6L3), ask students to identify how Ben uses the academic vocabulary. Instruct students to make a two-column Academic Word Chart with the column headings Word and How the Word is Used. Have them list the following words in the left-hand column: demand, order, request, respond, examine, infer, complicate. In the right-hand column, students write take notes while watching the movie, and copy the sentences that use those words.


  • With a partner, have students turn the dialogue from What Nikki Wants (L3U6L3) into a scene between Ben and Nikki. Allow time for students to write out the dialogue and practice saying the lines. Then invite them to perform their dialogues for the class.

Alternatively, students brainstorm different situations when people are asking for things, such as in a restaurant or at a store. As a whole class or in pairs, have students write a dialogue or skit. They may perform the skits with a narrator using reported speech to explain what is happening.

  • Ask students to choose a time (e.g., yesterday, last night, last weekend, when they were little, etc.), and write a list of things their parents told them to do (or not to do).



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