Beginning a lesson with a warm-up activity has many advantages. I can just list some as
- waking up tired students
- breaking the ice
- encouraging students to talk and think on the subject
- allowing students to settle down and prepare for the lesson
- previewing or revising a particular language area
- introducing the topic
- providing humour
- starting the lesson with a smile
- energising your students
- proving oral fluency practice
- and they are easy to prepare
There are many activities that can be used as warm-ups. Course books usually support the teachers with a short activity but from time to time, to surprise the students we can bring drama into the classroom. I’ll just list here a few drama activities and a few links for websites in this post.
- Divide the class into two and tell students to stand as 2 lines. Tell them Line 1 will form a circle and that will be the inner one, line 2 will form another circle around the inner circle. Set time limits. Ask students to come face to face and talk about a) something they remember from yesterday b)what they know about the topic you are going to work on. When the time is up, tell outer circle to move until you stop them and inner circle to wait for a new partner. (You can play music while they are moving) When they stop, they can talk on the same topic with their new partners. You can finish the activity after a few rounds.
- The teacher gives a piece of paper to the students and asks them to write at least 5 features of their character. The teacher collects the papers from the students and puts 4 chairs in a + shape. Then the teacher reads the features written on the papers and students who have those features are asked to gather around the same chair. Then the students can talk about their similarities. You can even put them in groups and ask them to create a class poster. This activity will be a great 1st week activity even with large classes.
- Group your students and ask them to freeze frame a few scenes from the previous chapters of the book you have been reading after each scene the rest of the class try to guess which scene is in the frozen frame.
- GoNoodle is a fun website you can find many videos and use them as warmers or energizers when you feel your students are getting bored.
- Famous Movie Segments for Warm-ups and Follow-ups will come handy when you need something different.
Have a great term 🙂
I’ll share a quick drama activity I learned from our drama club while performing at an event at school.
- Put 3 chairs in front of the board.
- Put labels on the chairs as “sad-1”, “happy-2″,”angry-3”
- Write some situations on slips of papers and put them in a box. (You are waiting at the bus stop and the bus is late / You are going to take an important exam /You are travelling to …
- Let students choose a slip of paper
- Give them a few minutes to prepare a very short story based on the situation they have on their papers.
Begin with the volunteers. Explain the rules.
Tell students that you will shout a number from 1 to 3 and she/he will sit on that chair and start telling the story according to the emotion written on the chair. While the student is telling the story change the numbers randomly.
This activity will be suitable for intermediate and above but I think it can also be tried with beginners as a reading aloud activity. The teacher can give a text to practise reading aloud and then asks the students to read the text sadly, angrily, cheerfully, etc
I am working with graded readers, short stories and novels with my classes. I was also preparing my talk for TESOL France and looking for some new ideas to share, I designed the following lesson inspired from Chaz Pugliese’s Gossip activity from the book Being Creative. The activity may not sound similar but while reading it, I just thought this will be a fun activity. I’m planning to do it this week with my 12th graders.
Level: B2 and above
Put students in 3s
As and Bs will speak
Cs will eavesdrop and take notes while As and Bs are talking.
A and B are characters from the novel/short story you’re reading in the class.
Tell them they are going to gossip about another character from the story.
For example: Squealer and Napoleon gossip about Boxer (Animal Farm)
Cs are either a passerby, a student from your class or a 4th character from the story. They will take notes of what they’ve heard and will inform the class after the activity.
Variation: If the students will not be able to improvise, you can put them in 3s and give some time to write the dialogue. Then Cs from each group go to listen to another A and B’s gossip.
Life is a lot like jazz… it’s best when you improvise – George Gershwin
Sometimes my mind doesn’t allow me to enjoy the moment.
Last week a group of actors from a drama club visited our school and they performed with our students. They improvised in the school yard. They started with some warm ups and continued with a few short ‘games’.
While watching them, I caught my mind thinking how I could adapt them in my classes.
There were fabulous ideas and yesterday we tried one of them.
Level: intermediate and above
Time: it’s up to you and your students
Aim: to practice relative clauses, vocabulary
- Ask students to stand up and form a semi circle.
- Tell them you will start the game saying ‘I’m the door.’
- Then a student will come and say a sentence which is related with the door and act as the thing in the sentence. He may say ‘I’m the lock on the door.’ And pretend as if he was a lock.
- Then a third one will come and complete the scene. He may say ‘I’m the key that opens the door.’ The first one will decide who will continue and may say ‘I want the key to stay here’.
- Then the key repeats ‘I’m the key that opens the lock’ and the game continues until you get bored.
When playing it they will make associations, connections, they can even play with the words and choose rhyming ones.
For example the next student may say ‘I’m the flock of birds flying to the south’ after hearing the word ‘lock’
We really enjoyed the activity very much. It can be a warmer or filler. Think about dull Monday mornings or long Friday afternoons.
NB My students are teenagers aged between 15 to 17. I think this activity will be suitable for teenagers and adults.
From time to time, I do this fun activity with my students and we have fun and laughter in the class.
On slips of papers write some sentences. (or tell your students to write a suggestion, regret, wish, advise, exclamation, etc)
Put the slips of papers in an envelope.
Prepare index cards. On each card, write situations and 2 characters involved in the situations.
Put the situations in an other envelope.
Ask 2 volunteers to stand up and come infront of the class, choose 3 slips of papers and a situation and tell them to start the conversation according to the instructions written on the situation card.
So each student will have 3 slips of papers and a situation card.
So you will have something like these:
What a great voice!
I wish I hadn’t eaten all the chocolate cake.
Shall I cook the meat now?
You are in the principals room with your mother and waiting for the principal to come. She asked your mother to come to school to talk about a matter. Your mum is angry and you are worried. You try to convince your mum that you haven’t done anything wrong.
You are in the principals room with your daughter or son because the principal asked you to come. You think s/he did something wrong and you are angry. S/he says s/he hasn’t done anything wrong
Tell them you will call their names and when they hear their names they have to insert the sentence on the slip of paper into the dialogue.
Continue until they use their 6 slips of papers.
This is a great filler, energizer, warm up. If they are enthused and want to participate you can even dedicate that one lesson to it. It is a great fluency practice.
Laughter is guarantied 🙂