11 no preparation warm up activities to keep your students occupied while you do some last minute photocopying, grab a much needed coffee, etc. (For more stimulating warm up ideas check out Penny Urs’ Five Minute Activities.)
Due to popular demand here are 11 more no-prep warmers and fillers.
1. Make the most words
Write a topical vocabulary item on the board. In twos or threes students make as many new words from it as they can. Possible seed words: apologise, dictionary, september Score a point per word and a bonus point for the longest
2. Make the longest words
Write a target word vertically down the board, for example. winter. In twos or threes students attempt to come up with the longest word that begins with each letter. Give teams a point per word and a bonus point for the longest. W aterfall I ndustrious N ausea T errified E mpty R etail
3. What does your name mean?
Using whatever resources they have at hand, students find and write down an appropriate adjective that begins with each letter of their first name. For example: Flirtatious, Relaxed, Extrovert, Desirable
4. Mixed up sentence
Write a sentence on the board but mix up the word order then challenge students to reconstruct the original sentence. For example: morning hadn’t eaten wish that döner kebab I at this 5am .
5. Mixed up sentence (anagram variation)
Write a sentence on the board but this time scramble the letters of each word. For example: hwy ddint’ I dusty draher ta vieyunrsit?
6. What do you know about bananas?
In groups students think of and write down as many facts as they can about bananas (or cats, Belgium, David Beckham, etc.). One point is given for each true sentence.
7. How many sounds can you hear?
Students sit in silence for two minutes and write down every sound that they hear. Let them compare their lists with their neighbours before seeing who has the longest list?
8. Round the board
Give students a theme, for example, jobs, things you take on holiday, food. Write the letters A to Z on the board. Students write an appropriate word beginning with each letter. See also A to Z race.
9. Things to do with a potato
(one of many brilliantly simple ideas from this great book) Produce a potato (if that’s not possible, the concept of a potato). Ask students to list as many unconventional uses for it as they can. For example: paperweight, weapon, pen holder, iPhone dock. The longest list wins the potato.
10. Odd one out
Give the students a couple of examples to guess (there are no right or wrong answers), then get students to think up their own ideas. Some examples:
- apple, peach, banana, tomato (a banana doesn’t have seeds)
- strawberry, branch, anvil, boat, iceberg (anvils don’t float)
- window, river, envelope, client, oregano (client doesn’t begin and end with the same letter)
11. Name ten
Get students to think of ten items that fit a certain criteria. For example, name ten:
- jobs where you have to wear a uniform
- English football clubs
- sports that are played with a ball
- foods that contain egg
- animals that lay eggs
- three letter parts of the body (eye, arm, leg, hip, ear, toe jaw, rib, lip, gum)
Another way to never struggle for warm-up / filler activities is to have a copy of 50 Conversation Classes on hand. The book contains easy to copy and cut out conversation questions and further exercises on over 50 topics. Hand a pile of cards to students at the beginning of the class and they will produce all kinds of ideas, vocabulary and hopefully, interesting questions too.