Warmers or Lesson Starters are quick activities used at the beginning of a lesson to get students warmed-up and ready to learn.
They are useful to help students relax and feel comfortable in the classroom; they help promote a fun learning environment and can be a good way to help new students familiarize themselves with one another. By allowing everyone to take part in a relaxed atmosphere warmers promote a general sense of confidence in the individual student’s abilities.
They can also be used to introduce the theme of a lesson.
Note that warmers are best used informally so don’t turn them into competitions. They are there just to get the class thinking and to introduce a subject and not there to test the students. If a student, therefore, gets an answer wrong there’s nothing wrong in this – just move on and let the game continue.
Try and make the warmer related to the lesson. Here we present a list of quick, easy warmers which can easily be adapted to the theme of the lesson. And remember, although these are often teacher led you can have more student involvement but getting the students to play the central role.
Who/What/Where Am I?
Select a famous person and have the class ask questions until they discover who it is. Do the same but make it an object. Do the same and make it a place!
Select a semantic field and write it on the board. Say out loud a word from that field then throw a ball (or small cushion, etc) to a student. Whoever catches it must give another word which is part of the semantic field.
Another ball game is throwing the ball and whoever catches it must say a word which begins with the last letter of the previous word (see Pig – Goat.)
The teacher can pretend to have a problem and quickly get the students to shout out good advice to you:
I’ve got a headache!
– take an aspirin
– lie down
– don’t drink beer!
– work harder
– ask for a raise
– get another job
This is good for practising numbers. Prepare some flashcards of common items you might buy from the supermarket and write on the back the cost. Hold them up at random and ask the class how much the item costs. See who can get the closest.
Classic game. Look around the class and say, “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with…” and the class needs to guess what you have in mind.
Of course this can be extended to almost anything. If the lesson were about professions you could begin with this game to see what the class already knew or not and to get them warmed up:
I spy with my little eye, a job beginning with S.
Draw a giant asterisk on the board. If the lesson is about sports, for example, ask the students for 8 sports and each one they name you write at the end of an asterisk line. A quick way to get vocabulary from the students.
Simon Says – simple instructions for young learners
Ice Breakers – activities for students to get to know each other.