More Warmers for the Classroom by Hall Houston
According to recent statistics from EIT headquarters, the most popular article in my series of over 20 articles is the one titled “Warmers and Lead-Ins”.
Apparently this article has become immensely popular with EIT readers and is still generating lots of hits.
This month I’m going to supply you with even more warmers and lead-ins. Here’s hoping these articles will also prove popular with the EIT audience.
If you recall, warmers are short activities used at the beginning of class that usually have no direct connection with the lesson. Lead-ins are warmers that are directly related to the lesson, introducing vocabulary, grammar or the topic of the lesson.
This time I will focus on a few warmers you can easily use in class today.
Task with Distracting Questions
Choose a task that a student can do in front of the class, such as solving a tough math problem or putting 20 coins in order by year. Tell the class that you are going to bring someone to the front to do the task, but classmates must try to stop him/her by asking a question. Each time someone asks a question, the student at the front must come to a complete stop and answer the question before continuing with the task
The Picture Game
Select a picture. It could be serious or humorous. Invite 2 students to the front of the class. Allow them to see the picture, but don’t let any other students see it. Tell them that they are both going to create a description of the picture. One description will be true and the other false. Send the students outside for a couple of minutes to plan their descriptions. Next, bring them back in and let them tell the class their descriptions. Can the students guess who is telling the truth? Finally, reveal the picture.
The Grand Tour
Take your class on a tour of the classroom. As you lead them all around the classroom, give them a lively description of the walls, ceiling, floor, desks, tables, and any other equipment or furniture. When the tour is over and they’re sitting down again, quiz them to see how much vocabulary they picked up during the tour.
This is a well-known drama activity. Put a chair in front of the blackboard. Choose a student to come to the front of the class and stand behind you. Tell the class that this student is now you. Invite students to ask you questions, but the student standing behind you will answer them as if he/she were you. After the class has asked about 9 or 10 questions, and the student has answered them for you, tell the class which answers were accurate.
Write the first sentence of a story. Go for something funny or dramatic. Ask for volunteers to give you the next sentence of the story. Write it up on the board as well. After following this process for a few sentences, ask a student to give you the ending of the story.
Prepare a series of 10-12 actions that can be easily mimed (an example: open door, sit down, pour a drink, drink it, smile, turn on the TV, frown, turn off the TV, yawn, go to sleep). Tell the class that you are going to perform a series of actions, and you want them to pay attention to the story. Do the mime twice. Next, put students into pairs to describe your actions in English. Finally, ask a pair to tell you what you did. Did they remember everything?
In the next article, I will suggest a few lead-ins that you can use to provide a smooth transition into your teaching material.
Hall Houston teaches at Kainan University in Taoyuan County, Taiwan. His articles have been published in periodicals such as It’s for Teachers, Modern English Teacher and English Teaching Professional. He has written 3 books: The Creative Classroom: Teaching Languages Outside the Box, Provoking Thought: Memory and Thinking in ELT, and The ELT Daily Journal: Learning to Teach ESL/EFL.