What to do with morphases.com

Morphases is a face photo manipulation programme that is easy to use and was the biggest hit of the month with my 8 to 11 year olds, with them fighting to speak English to tell me how to change the faces, asking for the address so that they could do it at home, and some of them even in tears with laughter at the result of changing a normal-looking man into a monster. It was a little tricky getting the right level of language out of it, so here is what I would do if I did it again.

Incidental language

The most important thing is the language you ask them to use as they do it. As well as the body part and appearance vocabulary (in approximate order of level- nose, ears, mouth, eyes, hair, sunglasses, chin, beard, moustache, eyebrows, forehead, plus various clothes), the language of how to manipulate it is great and memorable. Possibilities for each button (again approximately graded):

Left/ right, a little left/ right, two centimetres left/ right, more, stop, don’t stop, less, (much) further, a tiny bit, quite a lot, back, too far, keep going

(Ditto with up and down)

Bigger, smaller, much, a little, quite a lot, much much

Fattter, thinner, wider, narrower, broader, the same size as…, as … as…

Longer/ shorter (plus adverbs)

Turn, rotate, spin, twist, right/ left, clockwise/ anticlockwise (= counterclockwise), 180 degrees,

Other useful incidental language for the students or teacher- Reset/ put it back where it came from, Can I go next please? It’s my turn, Which part do you want to change? What does this button say? How do you say this part of the body in English? Which button should I press next? Where is the (rotation) button? Have you finished? What adjectives can you use to describe his face now? How was his face different when we started? Can you tell me how to put his face back to how it was?  

Other things you can do with it

– Do it with you as a robot, deliberately misinterpreting unclear instructions such as only making it a tiny bit bigger if they just say “Bigger”

– Children ask each other to manipulate it rather than you (i.e. one student takes the teacher role)

– Do two, then put them on the screen next to each other and get students to say similarities and differences, comparative sentences, or explanations of why they like one best

– Get them to add names, ages, personality, jobs etc to their finished faces

– Print them out and students make posters out of them with the parts labelled with what is wrong, what they have changed, or differences between the finished picture and the original one (e.g. comparatives)

– Manipulate the image before the class and get them to tell you to put it back to where they think the original was, then look at a picture of the original picture to check (and maybe describe what is different with comparatives etc)

– Let them work in pairs on laptops and give prizes for the scariest, cutest, most handsome, strangest etc they can come up with within the time limit you give. If they aren’t using much English in their pairs, keep the time limit very short so they use English when they explain to the class why theirs in best


Most be loads more stuff you can do, any ideas or similar site recommendations very welcome. I think it would be great if you could do the same with real photos of animal body parts (for possessive s practice), but the ones I have found use quite primitive graphics.

This entry was posted in Adjectives, Appearance vocabulary, Body parts vocabulary, Grammar, links, possessive s, Speaking, Teaching teenagers, Teaching young learners, Technology, TEFL, TEFL games, TESOL, Vocabulary, Vocabulary games and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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