Finished all the material for your class and have ten minutes left to spare?
Need a warmer to fill up the first ten minutes and get your class engaged?
Sometimes the old tricks are the best and these activities will help get you out of sticky situation. Adapt them to your students and off you go!
8 Instant No Resource Warmers and Fillers
Arrange the Sentences
Jumble five sentences and write them on the board for students to unscramble in pairs. This is an instant, five-minute activity to introduce any topic or grammar point. Studying the present perfect? Jumble five present perfect sentences. Such a simple activity works really well as a PowerPoint presentation as well.
Variation: Get students to jumble the sentences (and write them on the board too).
Quick Dictation and Discussion
Dictation is a really simple activity that you should use and it also works well in conjunction with PowerPoint. Adding a discussion element will help students understand and connect with the content. It’s a great warmer.
Dictate three to five questions that are linked to your topic. Try to ask questions that will generate discussion and not just one or two word answers. If, for example, you’re discussing the present perfect with your class then you could dictate sentences like these.
- How long have you lived in this city?
- Have you ever seen a ghost? When?
- What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done?
- What’s the worst food you’ve ever eaten?
- Have you ever had an accident?
Now ask students to spend five minutes discussing the questions. While they are doing this, you might like to circulate round the class listening for examples of good or bad English usage you can feedback on later.
An old favourite time killer for vocab. Draw this on the board. Have students copy it.
d g s t food soup clothing gloves sport tennis country Denmark
In teams or pairs, students have three minutes to fill up each square with a word that starts with the letter at the top of the column. Encourage them to compete.
Variation: Change the letters and the categories you use.
Anagram time killer and a way to introduce a key word. Draw this on the board.
r e o a d c y m c
Put students into pairs and get them to try to make as many words as they can using the letters in the box once only. Give them three minutes. Encourage competition. The team with the most number of correct words wins. The letters all make one nine letter word, in this case, democracy but you could use any nine letter word you want.
Variations: use a different kind of box or shape with more or fewer letters. Here’s a twelve letter box for ‘grandparents’.
g s a p a r e d r n t n
Always a good activity and everyone has problems with this – so most students will see the point. Ask learners to write the numbers one to ten on a piece of paper and then dictate the words that they spell.
As you elicit the correct spelling have students make a sentence with the target word.
Variation: Get students to come and write the correct spelling on the board. Have them choose the words!
Learning words in opposites can help students remember. Write the first column of one of the lists on the board and give your students a few minutes, in pairs, to write the opposites for each one. Get learners to make a sentence with each one as you elicit the answers.
Elementary Intermediate 1. fat thin 1. narrow wide 2. old young 2. nice horrible / naughty 3. right wrong / left 3. after before 4. early late 4. busy quiet 5. far near 5. deep shallow 6. cheap expensive 6. professional amateur 7. boring interesting 7. double single 8. beautiful ugly 8. increase decrease 9. same different 9. boiling freezing 10. easy difficult 10. guilty innocent
My Top Five…
Get students to speculate about their top five things. You could start with one of these examples or use one of your own.
- the top five countries you’d like to visit and why.
- the top five ways to stay fit and healthy.
- the top five places you’ve ever been and why.
- the five best pieces of advice you’ve received.
You can ask students to talk about these together, in groups or as a class. You could get them to write the answers or even make a presentation on them.
If you ask students just to name things, like ‘your top five songs’, then they are just making a list of words and not really using the language, try to make them come up with more meaty items.
Variation: Try asking students to name their top five worst things instead. You could also give students a time limit - “Name your top ten breakfast foods in one minute.”
Correct the Sentences
Write five incorrect sentences on the board and get students to correct them in pairs. Here are some examples if you’re teaching the present perfect.
- I have been never to London.
- She hasn’t speak to me today.
- I’ve been to class yesterday.
- He has been on holiday.
- They has visited New York.
Give students a time limit to answer before you get them to feedback to the rest of the class.
Variation: Don’t just use grammar mistakes, use vocab and spelling errors too.
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