Friday, 25 November 2011 22:27

21 Warmers and Games

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          When planning a lesson particularly think about how you want it to start. A good beginning can set the tone of the lesson and get students alert and relaxed – the best condition for learning.

          The first activity is often described as a warmer – an activity that gets students thinking in English and awakens their brain cells, and hopefully makes them feel positive about the lesson.

          Warmers can review language from previous classes or can introduce new topics, ideas and language items. They can also be freestanding and have little connection with what was done before or will be done later in the lesson. Warmers are often energetic and fun.


1. What is this?


Give out 2 pieces of card-sized paper along with some crayons to each student in the classroom. Tell them that they are going to draw a picture of an object. After they are done write this dialogue on the board:

A: What is this?

B: It’s an umbrella.

A: How do you spell umbrella?

B: It’s u-m-b-r-e-l-l-a

Tell the students that they will all stand up and find a pair. With their partner they will ask and answer about each other’s picture just like the dialogue above. After they are done they have to exchange their pictures and find another partner. They keep on doing this until they have talked to each person in the classroom.

This is a fun activity and it helps the students to learn the spelling of things.


2. Describe the picture


Take in a few pictures from magazines or the newspaper. Divide the class into groups of 3 or 4 and hand out one picture to each group. Then ask each student in that group to make a sentence about the picture. You can give restrictions to make it bit more demanding. For example, the sentence must be based on an adjective, color or about appearance, must be at least eight words long, must contain a relative clause, etc.


A picture of an old lady is held up by the group leader.

(Adjectives) She is wearing a black dress.

(Color) She has white hair.

(Appearance) She is short.


3. In Our House


An easy game to play with no preparation needed. The teacher starts with; “In our house there is a TV”. The next student repeats; “In our house there is a TV and a stereo”, then the next student adds to this, so on and so forth.

This type of activity is best for lower levels even though it could be made more interesting if the location (or topic) was changed.


4. Name Ping Pong


This warmer is best for the first couple of classes. It helps the students (and teacher) learn and remember names.

After some initial introductions have been made and some names are known have the students stand in a circle. The teacher should begin by eliciting ways to introduce yourself and other people. If necessary, on the board write the answers, I am _____, He is ____, She is ____, My name is _____, Her name is _____, His name is _____. Now the teacher starts by introducing him/herself and someone else. I’m Jon, She is Apple. Then Apple introduces herself and someone else. The faster the game, the more fun it will be. Students must listen for their name and pay attention to other’s names as well. Stipulations such as using a name only once can make the game more challenging.

This warmer is great for the first class when you want everyone to know everyone else’s name. You can also use a ball which is tossed to the student that is being introduced.


5. I am fine, Thank you


Have all the students stand up in a circle. Ask them, "How are you today?" and when they invariably reply, "Fine (thank you, and you?)", write it on the board.

Explain that no one can use this word again. When the question, "How are you?" is asked again, the first student to raise their hand (or be selected) must answer with an original response (happy, bored, sleepy...). Write their response on the board.

If they answer any word not on the board in 5 seconds they can sit down. If they don’t, they must remain standing. Cheating (use of friends or the textbook) is at your discretion; some find it moves the game along better. While this game starts slow, as the answers get sillier ("I'm beautiful", "I'm crazy"), the students get involved. You can play it until all students have sat or you can also have the first 5-10 students to sit down are the winners.


6. Blackboard Bingo


Use to review listening, reading and vocabulary revision.

Procedure: write on the board 12 to 15 words which you would like to review. Ask the students to make a bingo grid in their notebook, with three rows and three columns. Ask the students to choose any nine words from the list and write them down in the grids.

Let students one by one read out the words in any order. If the students have written down one they cross it off. When they have crossed off all the nine words they tell you by shouting „Bingo.

Variation: The procedure above demands recognition of sound and spelling relationships. You can make the activity more demanding by giving, for example, the homonyms, synonyms. The students must then listen for meanings or opposites and match this with their words.


7. What are you like?


Put the class into groups to make a list of adjectives that could describe the students in the other groups. Try to get them to give more than one adjective, for appearance and personality. To make it interesting and see how the students feel about their teacher, ask the students to give adjectives for them as well.

When finished, go around the room describing the others in class. Do you and they agree with the adjectives provided?


8. Can/can’t


Get the students to think about the things they can and can’t do. Then tell them to think about cartoon characters, superheroes, comic book etc.

“My teacher can’t fly.”

“David Beckham can’t really sing.”

“Doraemon can do almost anything.”


9. Colors


Elicit several colors and write them on the board. As a class or large groups, how many items can the students think of that are that color.

For example yellow:

Bananas are yellow

Some taxis in Thailand are yellow.

Lek’s T-Shirt is yellow.


10. Alphabet soup


Give each student a letter card (or a letter token from Scrabble). Have the students line up in alphabetical order without talking. There, that was easy.

Now, have the students join with others to form three letter words. Then try four letter words. Then five? This can be done with or without talking.

This game can be played together as a whole class or in smaller groups. But if you play in smaller groups you should give more letters than the amount of students in the group to make it less challenging for your lower level students.


11. Job Charades


Put the students into mid or large sized groups. Write the question on the board, "What creative ways can your group think of to earn money?" Stress creative to steer away from ordinary jobs. Have them elicit a number of jobs equal to or greater than their group size. When finished, the groups tale turns to stand up and act out or mime the jobs. The other groups are to guess.

For example: Impersonating a famous person (Elvis), dancer etc.

12. My partner can………


Write on the board I can ……… and I can’t…………

Get the students to complete the sentences describing something they can do and something they can’t. e.g. I can speak Japanese …I can’t swim.

Put the students into pairs and sitting opposite each other. (If you have odd numbers you can join in)

On the board write

My partner can/can’t swim.

My partner can/can’t sing a song in English

My partner can/can’t run more than 2 miles without stopping

My partner can/can’t ride a motorcycle

My partner can/can’t say hello in 5 languages

(The variations are endless)

After you have a list of about 10 cans and can’ts, get the students to underline the word which best represents their partners ability. (can or can’t) When they have finished they are to swap their papers to see if they have been correct or not. e.g.: “Yes you’re right you said I can’t speak 5 languages and that’s true”.


13. I Spy


This is simply based on the classic game “I spy with my eye, something beginning with the letter ___”. You may have to explain the word spy but by going through a few run through, the students will understand the format. Ensure that you are not the focus of the class and let the students have fun. You may have to tell the students that they are only to “spy” on tangible things in and outside the class.

Sometimes, games we played in our childhood can be tweaked to be used as class games or warmers. This game format is retained and the students will set the difficulty level themselves.


14. Alphabet


Write the alphabet in vertical rows on the whiteboard, 4-5 letters in each row. Divide the students into equal groups based in the number of rows of letters. Now, give the students a unit-related category and give them a time limit to write vocabulary words or phrases that begin with the letters on the whiteboard. Groups could then be moved to a different row to elicit further vocabulary if desired. The elicited words can be used for their own sake, to conjugate if they’re verbs, or for collocation exercises. The groups must work together and each student in the class is thus exposed to a wealth of vocabulary from the entire class.

For example:

A artist

B bartender

C chef

D dancer

You can now use these jobs to elicit the place of work or duties either individually, in groups or as a class. Present-tense verbs can be elicited from one group which can then be used to elicit the past-participle from another group. The fun never ends with this activity. This exercise is best for lower levels to introduce and reinforce vocabulary.


15. Spelling Queue


Divide the class into suitable sized teams. Then give them a word to spell. The students then spell out the word, one letter per student, so that the word is spelt out along the team. If the word is long then the spelling goes back to the first student to continue. If a mistake is made, the team has to start again.


16. Hot Seat


Divide the class into two groups. Put one chair in front of the classroom “Hot Seat”, the back of the chair should face the board. You can name the groups, for example, Group A and Group B. Tell Group A to think of a word. It can be anything they like. Group A then chooses a person from Group B to come and sit on the „Hot Seat. A person from Group A then writes the word chosen on the board. Other members of Group B will be given 20 seconds to help their friend sitting in front of the class to guess the word on the board. They can’t use any gestures; they can only explain the word. If within 20 seconds the person fails to get the answer, Group A automatically gets a point.

For example:


It’s a place where you cook food.


17. The Nickname Activity


The idea of this activity is to get the students to find out each other’s nicknames and to write the nickname on the correct attendance card. This can be done by giving each student a attendance card. Explain to the students what they have to do and then elicit a brief conversation from the class;

A: Hi, is your name Pong?

B: No, it’s not / Yes it is.

A: What’s your nick name?

B: It’s Jim.

A: How do you spell that?

B: J-I-M

A: Could you say that again, please?

B: Sure, J-I-M.


18. I go, she goes


This activity is a great way for students to practice third person singulars. You need a strip of paper for every student. On each strip of paper write a subject pronoun followed by a verb and then a second pronoun but omit the second verb. The students will let their friends guess the correct form of the missing verbs.

For example:

I like, she_____ We have, you_______

It is, they_____ You and I listen, he______

Model on the board, “I like, she likes”.

Ask the students to prepare a few like these, then go around the class and let other students guess the answer.


19. Learning students’ names I


This is a fun and quick method of learning students names on the first day of class. It works well when you have a group of new students or even a mix of old and new. The teacher begins self-introduction by saying his/her name and with the first letter of their name they choose something they do to fit that. For example, „My name is Susan, I like shopping. The next student says, „Her name is Susan, she likes shopping. My name is Cherry, I like cooking”. This builds up in a chain form around the class.

By the end of it, everybody knows everybody’s name and some information about them, too.


20. Learning student’s names II


Another funny way to learn students names is to ask them to their names plus the name of the food they like the best. There will be funny names like “John Hamburger”, Peter Pizza, etc.

You can add other elements to make this a bit more difficult. The first letter of the name should correspond with the food. For example, “Suniti Somtum”, “Khwan Kang Kheow Wan”, etc.

Variations: Desserts, Drinks, Sports, etc. to suit with the unit you are going to teach.

A warmer suitable for the first few days to learn students names


21. Learning students’ names III


Along with the name introduction, each person has to show an action (any kind of movement will do).

For example:

My name is Joe (he coughs a bit)

His name is Joe (cough) and my name is Sue (claps her hands).

His name is Joe (cough), she is Sue (clap) and I’m Tom (bows).

This exercise can be used with absolute beginners. The strange movements make the exercise fun.

Last modified on Friday, 25 November 2011 22:37
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