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 🙂
1. Each person is given a sheet of paper with a series of instructions to follow. Each student’s instructions should be different. Tell them to stand up and mingle until you stop them. Then ask them to share their answers. Your instructions can be as “Find someone who …”
- Find out who has been abroad before.
- Who can play any instruments?
- Find what your classmates have for their breakfast.
- Who spent their summer holiday on an island?
2. Give each student a post-it note. Tell them to write their names at the top. Then ask them to write 1 adjective that will describe their physical appearance and 5 adjectives that will describe their character. Collect the post-it notes. Tell students they will guess the person you chose. Ask them to stand up next to their seats. Read one adjective each time and if they think that adjective doesn’t describe them, they have to sit down (whether they have written the adjective or not) Once they sit, they can’t stand up again. Continue calling an adjective, till they guess who the person is.
3. Divide the class into teams. Tell them they will advertise themselves to you. Prepare a bank of advertisements for them to get inspired. This will work well with a group of students who know each other well but the teacher meets them for the first time.
4. Provide A4 size paper, crayons, markers for each student. Ask each student to prepare a poster which contains some symbols or pictures describing who they are, what’s important to them or what they enjoy.
Each poster should be divided into 4 or 6 segments. Each segment can contain a picture of favourite emotion, favourite food, a hobby, a skill, a motto etc. Set time limits. When they finish, tell them to stand up, play some music and tell them to walk around till you stop the music and ask them to find a partner and introduce themselves to each other, then they have to exchange the papers and they will introduce their new friend to the class.
Some other activities from the archives of A Journey in TEFL
Energisers are great activities and can save lives when you feel your students are not in the lesson anymore.
These quick games can be used to bring your students back to classroom. A little bit movement, mingle, laughter will break the ice, will help to get rid of the boredom. Maybe the focus is not directly on the language but still you can adapt these games according your students’ needs and levels.
Touch Something Pink
Tell students to stand up. Explain that you will give instructions and they will touch something in the classroom according to it. It can be an object, a coat, etc
What has changed?
- Pair students
- Partners should observe each other carefully
- Tell them to turn their back to each other and make 3 changes to his/her appearance. For example, they can remove a watch or change the wrist, roll up sleeves, etc.
- When ready, they turn to each other and in turns they try to find the 3 changes.
Find your family
- Prepare cards with categories, fruit names, family names or occupations.
- Give each student a card
- Tell everyone to walk around the class and find their group members
This one will work very well when you plan your groups in a group work. They usually moan when you say work with him or her but when you play a game and put them in a group like that they obey the rules.
A classic but fun!
- Teacher divides the students into an equal number of fruits according to the class size.
- Students sit in a circle.
- Give each student a card with a fruit picture
- One must stand in the centre.
- Teacher shouts a fruit, such as ‘apple’
- All apples must stand up and change places with another.
- The student in the middle tries to sit before all the apples settle to their new seats.
- The new person in the middle shouts another fruit.
Tide’s in / Tide’s out
- Draw a line representing the seashore.
- Ask students to stand behind the line.
- When teacher shouts ‘Tide’s out!’, students jump forward over the line.
- When teacher shouts ‘Tide’s in’, students jump backwards over the line.
- If the teacher shouts ‘tide’s out’ twice in a row, students who move will drop of the game.
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 🙂