10 Great Warm Up Activities For The Classroom

Warm up strategies for our classroom are an excellent teaching tool! We all know that starting the lesson with a good hook activity sets us up for a better chance of success. It captivates the students and draws them into the lesson - giving us the opportunity to "do our thing"! Below I have put together a few warm ups that my MAT professor Dr Cynthia Alby gave us as students - thanks Cynthia!

The Evocative

This is done by giving the students an evocative quotation, photo, scenario or song. Then ask a question that requires the group or learning team to think it through and give you their best answer.

You'd be suprised at what people can come up with, and more so, how wrong they can often be. The evocative warm up strategy helps you, the teacher to understand any misconceptions or preconceptions that the students may have about the subject. Knowing what the students preconceptions are tells us where they are now and gives us an idea of how we can get them where we want them to be.

Most importantly, in my opinion, it lets you know how to target the lesson, after all, it makes no sense to teach them what they are already know (unless you are deliberately using repetition) - they would just get bored.

Data Manipulation

"A picture is worth a thousand words", so with this strategy we ask the students to draw a diagram of what they currently understand about the subject or concept. The artist in them may come to light, or like me, you might just get the best of my stick figures! Either way, you are able to determine any preconceptions or misconceptions that students may have as well as who has them. The best part is that it gets the students interested enough in the subject - giving you, the teacher a great launching pad to begin the lesson.


A quiz (even if it's ungraded) always gets the attention of students. To make it more interesting, it can be done through sign language, with as a picture on construction paper, with white boards or even through poetry or rapping! Whatever it takes to get them involved and interested and of course, learning And Reading!! This, like the previous strategies, highlights any preconceptions or misconceptions that students may have, helps us target our teaching to a level that will keep them interested and most importantly it can get them interested.


I use this one pretty often as it doubles up as a vocabulary builder. Students are given a list of words relating to the the topic that you about to teach and asked to guess how these words relate to the topic at hand. Try to choose words that they have never heard of to get them thinking! I remember Cynthia illustrated this by giving us words that related to bead making (a hobby of hers). Needless to say that we were totally clueless but intrigued. We also developed an interest in bead making for a little while - the very focus of this warm up.


Some people learn by doing - and that is what simulation is all about. Speaking of bead making, Cynthia came equipped to that class with blow torch, goggles, etc. While she was wise enough not to let us experiment with the bead making process, she was kind enough to demonstrate it. In her own words, simulation is a great lab for skills.

If simulations might be too dangerous or even inappropriate for the classroom, role playing might be a fun way to use this strategy. This warm up targets several different learning styles

Guessing Game

This is like "Ask the Audience" in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, only if you have some objects you can hold them up and ask what they might be used for, or what the next course of action would be, or even where the items may belong in the process of bead making. There is nothing better than seeing the hands fly up or hearing multiple voices calling out the answers to your questions. Again, it gets students interested and lets you, the teacher know how much they know (or don't know). Sometimes it can be quite humorous!


Much like a pre-quiz, this is an assessment of how students think about a certain subject. This can really bring out any misconceptions! I used this in a finance class and it was amazing that the students perception of the banking system was totally false and definitely unrealistic. The good thing, however was that we were able to correct the misconceptions only after we knew that they existed and the opinionnaire was a great way to find this out.

Free Association

This is when the teacher calls out a word or a phrase and the students can either call out a word or sign the word that first comes to mind. For example in a health class a teacher may call out "fast food" and the students may call out orsign "McDonalds". This strategy stimulates the students to think about the topic in question and generates interest among the students. In other words, it works both as a warm up and a hook!

Likert Scale Line Up

I found this warm up activity useful when I taught the last class of the day. I would get everyone moving and the focus would be on lining students up based on how strongly they agree or disagree with a statement or subject. Usually the more controversial the subject, the more enthusiastic the response. Also, it would get students discussing the subject, as they would need to know to what extent their classmates agree or disagree. A great way to start a lesson!

Chalk Talk

This is my all time favorite warm up. It is extremely easy to do and more to the point, the focus is on the students! We start off by writing a word or a phrase on the board. The next step is to have a student co-ordinate his or her colleagues as they walk up to the board. They can either come up in small groups or individually to write on the board anything related to the word or phrase in question. It gets the students thinking and you can use their own ideas to launch the lesson. An excellent hook!

So there you have it! Ten great ways to warm up your students and tickle their imagination. Have fun using them - I certainly do...

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