The Grass Is Always Greener… When You Paint It

Do you enjoy using authentic materials in the classroom? Are you looking for something interesting to talk about this week?¬†Here is a fun way to introduce the English saying “The grass is always greener on the other side”. This fun story is an interesting way to explore the differences between “literal” and “figurative” language.

ESL-Library’s founder Ben Buckwold was recently in Palm Springs with his family. It had been a long, cold winter in Winnipeg, and the family was very happy to see flowers and grass instead of ice and snow. Imagine Ben’s wife’s surprise when she woke up early one morning and caught the resort staff painting the grass green! According to this article in the Daily Mail, painting the grass green is common practice in China, too.

“In the past fields of crops have been replanted to give a more ‘fertile appearance’ during an inspection tour of the countryside by Chairman Mao, and fake sheep have been positioned on the dried out grasslands of Inner Mongolia to dupe tourists that the animals were still grazing there.¬†” ~Amanda Williams, Daily Mail



Here are some expressions and words that you may want to pre-teach before you share this article with your students.

  • the grass is always greener on the other side
  • an element of truth
  • spruced up
  • to go to great lengths
  • aesthetic
  • dupe

Discussion Questions

Does green grass really make people feel more cheerful and positive?
Will lawn painting become a trend in the future?
What is your reaction to the idea of planting fake sheep in the fields?
How is painting the grass different from dying one’s hair?
How would you feel if dye from painted grass turned your expensive shoes green?
Discuss real-life example of when you might use the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side” in a figurative rather than a literal way. Do you have a similar expression in your own native language?

Shades of Green

Take a walk and get your students to point out different shades of green. Have them bring their mobile phones to take pictures of the different colours. If you have younger students, collect an assortment of green crayons and have students practise reading out the colour names. Students might also have fun inventing their own names for different shades of green.

  • forest green
  • mint green
  • turquoise
  • army green
  • puke green (if your students can stomach it)
  • olive green
  • teal
  • chartreuse
  • lime
  • Kelly green

Lesson plans on Everyday Idioms

If your students enjoy learning idioms and English sayings check out these ESL-Library sections and materials:
Everyday Idioms 1 – First Love (low-intermediate – intermediate)
Everyday Idioms 2 – First Year (high-intermediate – advanced)
Detective Series – The Case of the Missing Ring (high-intermediate – advanced)
Love Idioms – Infographic
Luck Idioms – Infographic


Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.