Warmers are short 5-10 minute activities, often entertaining, which start the lesson. They might have little relevance to the topic of the lesson and aim at getting students in the mood for a class.Warmers make students think in English after the break they’ve had and activate their brain cells.
Warmers are beneficial for every classroom, teenagers being no exception. Teens often come tired or distracted after school and need to be energized with some fun activity. Many warmers require social interactions, so your students will inevitably have to start using English straightaway.
In this article we will look at some warmers to use in a teenage class.
Give teenagers some time to work in pairs and interview each other about their weekend or previous week. You can provide them with some ideas like ‘The best moment of the weekend…’, ‘I was sick and tired of…’ or ‘I wish I had done more…’. Alternatively, you can let them take over and discuss something they find relevant. You can also ask them to find three things about the previous weekend they have in common.
5 ways to use
Provide students with some little object – a paperclip, a bookmark, an old eraser, a potato – and ask them to come up with 5 ways of using these things. They can start individually, then discuss their ideas in pairs or groups. The more original, the better!
Lateral thinking puzzles
A man is lying awake in bed. He makes a phone call, says nothing, and goes to sleep.
What happened? You tell me! But first read this puzzle to your teens and let them ask you yes/no questions to solve it. In lateral thinking puzzles some clues are given, but the clues don’t tell the whole story. Your job is to get more details and complete the story.Get some more puzzles here but beware – most of them involve murder mysteries.
Half a crossword
Starting a lesson with half a crossword will help teens tune in to English from the very first minutes. Arrange them in pairs, give each student part of the same crossword. They need to explain the words to each other, taking turns and filling the crossword. You can use half a crossword warmer for revising previously studied vocabulary or just create a set of words which don’t relate to each other.
Spotting the sounds
Tell teens that they are going to sit in silence for a couple of minutes and write down all sounds they hear. Ticking clock, birds chirping outside, someone talking in the next classroom – that all counts. Then they compare their notes with a partner before seeing who has the longest list. This warmer is more like a cooler, however, it is great for promoting concentration, especially if your teens have arrived too emotional or agitated.
A minute tic-tac-toe
Draw a tic-tac-toe grid on the board. Fill it in with speaking topics which might interest teens. Divide students into two teams. A member of the first team chooses a topic and speaks about it for a minute or 30 seconds, it depends on your students’ general level and fluency. Then, the students marks the topic with X or O. Topics might vary from more predictable ‘Films’, ‘Food’ and ‘Animals’ to more challenging ‘Green’, ‘Astronomy’ or ‘Hedgehogs’.
Prepare a set of cards with different areas of expertise: fishing, poetry, English grammar, Asian food. Introduce one of the students as an expert: ‘Hello everyone, this is Michael and he is an expert on…’. Let the student pick on of the cards and name his area. After Michael has been nominated as an expert on, say, fishing, invite other students to ask him all the questions about fishing that come to their minds. Michael needs to answer the questions, acting in a confident and serious expert-like manner.
This activity suits higher levels best. It can be also used for revision if you prepare one more set of cards with the vocabulary you need to revise. For each question, the expert should then pick one of the cards and use the word in his answer.
All in all, warmers are invaluable for revising language, help teens switch from their mother tongue to English and just get into the right mood. An effective warmer can turn a group of sleepy, glued to screens, grumpy guys into the ones ready to participate. Well…ideally.
What are your favourite warmers? Feel free to share!