Warmers – a teacher’s best friend or a waste of time? We believe it’s a great tool, and here’s why:
#1 By using warmers which are not related to the rest of the lesson, you can make sure that people who are late for the lesson don’t miss out on anything.
#2 The first few minutes of the lesson are crucial. That’s when the brain decides whether to get engaged or not. With such a limited time to get your students’ attention, you really want to do it right.
#3 A warmer which is well thought out can bring an element of surprise and fun. That way, your students are ready for whatever you have in store for them, however boring it’s going to be (like Past Perfect Continuous, for example).
#4 Warmers allow students to tune in to the lesson and the language. They need time to adjust to using English rather than their native language.
#5 Use warmers for your own benefit (as a teacher). If you run a few lessons back to back, a warmer might be a good way for you to catch a breather from the “real” work you’re going to do during the lesson.
Don’t start your lessons with:
- checking the register
- checking homework
- organisational stuff
These activities are “boring” and will put your students’ brains to sleep from the very start of the lesson. It’s going to be very difficult for them to re-engage.
So what can you use instead?
- interesting pictures
- questions that your students haven’t heard before
- unusual items – ask your students what they could be used for
- quick, surprising activities
- ask your students to come up with long lists in a very short amount of time. For example: You have 60 seconds, list 30 things to have for breakfast that you don’t have to cook.
Should the warmer always be on the topic of the lesson?
A lot of teachers believe that the warmer should always be on the same topic as the rest of the lesson. And it is a great idea – your lesson is cohesive, and everything is nicely tied together. But if you always want to follow this rule, you’re going to face a couple of problems.
When you’re following a coursebook syllabus, it means you’re going to have to run a few lessons on the same topic. For example, you might be on the topic of Food for 3 lessons. That means you have to come up with 3 different warmers on the same topic. Plus, your students might simply get tired of talking about food!
That’s why doing a warmer which is not connected with the main topic of the lesson might be a better idea. Just to give your students a break.
Also, if you’re not restricted by the topic, you can really run wild with your warmer ideas. You can come up with some crazy activities, which will really activate your students from the very beginning.
But, it’s different when you run every lesson on a different topic, which is very often the case with conversational courses. It is a better idea to have a warmer related to the topic of the lesson. Especially if your lessons are shorter than 90 minutes. You want to squeeze as much of the topic into this lesson as you can.
How can using warmers save you time?
If you use warmers which are not related to the topic of the lesson, you can use the same warmers for all your lessons on that day or even that week! So all you need to do is prepare two warmers a week – one for lower levels, one for higher levels and just use them throughout the week.
And if you’re looking for ready-to-use warmers for all levels, check out our Elementary Warmers and Easy Warmers – a collection of activities to supply you with exciting warmers for the entire school year!