Published 21st October 2015


The first few minutes of a class are a really important part of the lesson. These few minutes are when your students get settled, get into English-mode and start to engage with the language. This is the time when it is necessary to make sure you get their attention and make them interested in the lesson they are about to have. Often students will come in from situations where they were not speaking English or they were thinking about other things, so this is the time when they need to focus their minds on speaking English.

So, what are good warmer activities for your lessons? Well, here are a few of our tried-and-tested activities to start any lesson:

  • Scrambled Words. Choose words from a previous lesson and write them in jumbled form on the board. The students must then try to unscramble them and figure out what the words are.
  • Hangman. Not only for Young Learners, this is a great game for students of all ages.
  • Brainstorming/Association. Provide words as a stimulus and let the students use free association to come up with any related words.
  • 20 Questions. Think of a word and your students only have 20 questions to figure out what it is.
  • Famous Names. Write out familiar celebrity names on pieces of paper, which your students must stick to their foreheads without having looked at them. They must then ask the other students (who can see their “names”) questions to find out who they are.
  • Odd One Out. Write down groups of words on the board. For each group there must be a word that doesn’t fit in with the others, for whatever reason. The students must guess which is the odd word out.
  • Categories. Students draw a table of categories on a piece of paper – for example, Place, Person, Food, Job. You choose a letter and as fast as they can the students must work in groups to complete all the categories with a word beginning with that letter – London, Louise, Lasagne, Lawyer.

There are so many different options for warmer activities and once you become familiar with a few of them they’ll be available for you to use at a moment’s notice. They do not necessarily have to relate directly to the topic or language structure of the lesson, though they can often be manipulated to provide revision from previous lessons. The key for these activities is that they are short and sweet. Don’t spend the entire lesson on them – there are more important things that should take up the bulk of the lesson – but spend enough time for the students to get involved and get focused for the lesson ahead.  If you can manage to get the students’ attention from the beginning of the lesson, you’ll gave a better chance of having a successful lesson.