Seven Other Activities That Can be Used As Warmers

These warmers require a bit of preparation (printing, copying…), setting up and scaffolding or technology (internet connections, data projectors…). Of course they don’t have to be warmers you could use them at any point in the lesson as appropriate – some of them can be used to practice certain language points.

Once again I do not claim any originality in the ideas behind these warmers – these are things I have picked up during my teaching career.

  1. Marrakech Market – Bartering

In this activity the learners use their bargaining skills to barter for goods at a market. You may use this activity to allow the learners to express themselves using any language at their disposal or after specific language input – conditionals for example.

I have linked to a Prezi to introduce the topic (i), produce (ii) & prices (v). Here is a link to a set of cards students can use (bartering).

 i. Introduction. Spend some time setting the scene and building interest the scene (Prezi slide 1). Key information:

– the classroom is a market that does not use money. They barter (it is a good idea to demonstrate – try to buy an object from one of your students – “I’ll give you my beautiful blue board marker for your telephone…” and see what happens…).

– the learners are traders at the market with a list of things they have to sell and a list of things they wish to buy. They should try to obtain the items on their shopping list.

– the traders may have to be strategic in their dealing. If they cannot make direct trades they may have to buy items not on their lists from one trader and then trade these for the items they actually want from another trader (did you follow that?).

– all trades are done on paper, trader must keep good records of sales and purchases, with the goods being collected at the end of the trading day.

– as this is an international market all trades must be completed in English.

 ii. Introduce the produce (Prezi Slide 2).

Use the Prezi (or board) to introduce the items that are traded at the market (and are on the activity cards).

iii. Model the activity. Project these cards (bartering example) onto the board and demonstrate the task with two learners. As you make trades amend the cards by adding or removing the produce each trader now has.

 iv. Learners complete the activity as you monitor. I usually explain that as this is a medieval market there wasn’t any electrical lighting so trading starts when the sun rises (you turn the classroom lights on) and ends when the sun sets (you turn the lights off). Let the activity run as long as you feel productive.

v.Post activity. After the activity and feedback on task completion and language used explain that each item does have a value. Display Prezi slide 3.

Ask the learners to calculate the value of the items they originally had to sell – it should add up to 100. Now ask them to calculate the value of the produce they own – this means any item on they have recorded on their  paper so it includes items not traded & any item bought whether on the original shopping list or not.

The learners can now decide if they have made a profit, made a loss or broken even

 vi. Remedial work. You may use your observations from the activity to plan some remedial language work. If you do consider doing the activity again to practice the language the learners will be aware of the twist and the trading may become more serious!

  1. Online Word Games

Word games such as Scrabble and Boggle are fun ways to recycle lexis and encounter new vocabulary. Here are a few suggestions based on the affordances of technology to use them as warmers.

Scrabble Sprint is a great game for a warmer. You have one minute (time is added as you add words) to make words using the scrabble tiles in your tray. At the end of the game you get a score.

Play this as a class activity – connect your computer to the data projector and ask learners to shout out words they see. You, or even better a learner, type them.

This is a game you can play regularly to see if you can beat your previous best. My class got 220 today.

Wordtwist is a Boggle-like game. As with Scrabble sprint you can play with a timer (2 minutes for a 4×4 board and 3 minutes for 5×5). As well as giving you a score at the end of the game this gives you more puzzle stats including the longest word and best word found by other players.

You can also play it in the traditional, way with teams and longer time limits, with a little preparation. Take a screenshot of grids and embed them in a presentation tool. Here is a link to a Prezi I created – I used Jing for the screenshots.

  1. The Marshmallow Challenge

This is a great ice-breaker to use at the start of a course or a time when you want to build class and team spirit (and have some fun)

Each team of 3 or 4 learners must build the largest free-standing structure with these materials:

18 pieces of spaghetti

1 metre of string

1 metre of adhesive tape

1 marshmallow

The marshmallow must be on the top of the structure.

This is an activity used in corporate training – here is a link to the website and a TED talk.

You may wish to follow up by asking learners to describe the process they went through with their design (past tenses), comparing their efforts to other teams or the video (comparison), describing what they would do differently (conditional sentences).Or you may wish to use the video to promote a discussion on the creative process…there is a lot you can do…

  1. Online Quiz Sites

Tools such as Socrative and Kahoot allow you to create your own quizzes that learners complete in real-time using any devise with internet access (laptop, Smartphone…etc). Quizzes can be played in different modes – the most popular with students in my experience is as a competition.

I have a preference for Socrative as it is slightly more flexible and allows you to create open-ended as well as multiple-choice questions.

A very nice feature of these tools is that you can create quizzes and share them with your colleagues. By sharing the work you can build up a nice bank of resources fairly quickly.

  1. Tell us about your favourite song

Giving your learners some time to talk about their favourite song or music is a nice way to make your classroom a more inclusive place. You may wish to set aside a regular slot for a student, or students, to present their song. Create a calendar so that the learners know when they will be presenting and have enough time to prepare.

As a class you can decide on the format. The learner may wish to give some information about the singer / group, the song and explain why they like the song. They may also create an activity to accompany the song – this could be a gap-fill, comprehension questions or even digital activity.

Before the learners present their songs model the task yourself by presenting your own favourite song.

  1. What happened / What will happen next?

Painting and photographs capture moments in time, but what happened before the picture and what will happen afterwards?

i.Introduction. Print or display an interesting picture or photograph that could be part of a story for example Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

Elicit the context of the current scene – Where is it? When is it? Who is in the picture? What are they doing?…etc. Then elicit the story leading up to moment of the painting and/or the story after the moment of the painting or both.

 ii. Main activity. Give or even better allow learners to source a picture that could be a moment in a story. In groups the learners create a story to retell the events leading to the picture, those afterwards or both.

iii. Groups then tell their stories to the class whilst displaying the picture.

iv. Follow up. Post the pictures and stories on your class blog or stick on your wall.

  1. Vocabulary Recycling

This vocabulary activity recycles vocabulary that has been introduced in your lessons. As you introduce new items of vocabulary or they are brought up in class write them down individually on small pieces of paper. Fold the paper and put them in a vocabulary jar.

After a short amount of time you will have quite a few items in your jar which you can use for several recycling activities including:

– Pairs or groups of learners take 5 words from the jar and write a short story containing these words.

– A learner picks one item from the jar and describes it to the class without using the vocabulary item.

 You pick the words from the jar and use them as a backs to the board activity.


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