Warmers, Fillers, ice-breakers and coolers 

                                           by Jean Sciberras


                                          When planning a lesson think about how you want it to start. A good beginning can set

                                          the tone of the lesson and get students alert and relaxed – the best condition for learning .

                                          Warmers are activities that get students thinking in English and awaken their brain cells. 

                                          Warmers can review language from previous classes or can introduce new topics, ideas

                                          and language items. They can also be freestanding and have little connection with what

                                          was done before or will be done later in the lesson. Warmers are often energetic and fun. 


Warmer 13 

The Ages of Man 

Write down these words on seven cards: 






Senior citizen 




Write down these words on seven different coloured cards 


First car 




Secret diary 



Each student gets one card from either Cards A or Cards B. Students stand up and mingle to

match one item from one list with an item from the other list. 

You might want to extend this by asking students to put the ages in order, starting with the

youngest and finishing with the oldest. They could also be asked to suggest ages for the various

stages and ages of Man. This could create quite a discussion. 

(adapted from Skyline 4) 


Warmer 14

If I were a(n)……………I would be…………because…………… 

Ask the students to complete the statement at the top using a different word from the list each

time. If necessary give an example…if I were a verb I would be ‘think’ because I always do, even

in my sleep. 

Colour                           piece of music 

Building                         painting 

Vehicle                          photo 

Insect                            type of food 

Bird                               vacation 

Idea                              adjective 

Plant                             verb 

Movie                            currency 

novel                             country 

Poem                            planet 

Song                            sport 

Historical figure           piece of furniture 

You can either give these words on a worksheet or write them down on cards which are then

passed round among the students. 

Conduct a short feedback. 

This could be used to revise or introduce 2nd Conditional or simply as a getting to know you


(adapted from Skyline 4) 


Warmer 15 

Task 1 

Look at the pictures below. Ask the students to think about their own character and to choose

the five images that best represent them. In pairs or small groups, the students explain their choices to each other. 

The pictures that best represent me are……..because……. 

Eg light bulb, because I often have good ideas Photo, because I’m very nostalgic 


Task 2 

Students then rank the picture(s) chosen by most students and complete the sentence below

The pictures that best represent the class are……. 

alarm clocktortoise


Warmer 16 (especially for young learners)

Fruits and Vegetables 

Ask students to write down the following words on a piece of paper, keeping what they write secret

from those around them. 

Tell them to write: 

1. the name of a fruit 

2. the name of a vegetable 

3. a number between 1 and 100 

4. ask them to write the answer to this question – Do you like football? 

5. How many pencils and pens do you have? 

6. What is the first thing you do every morning? 


Now tell them that these things are actually 

1. their first name 

2. their family name 

3. their age 

4. are they married? 

5. how many children they have 

6. their job 

Now they must get up and go around the class and ask personal questions and share information

about their new selves. 

Encourage them to shake hands(if appropriate) and make eye contact when meeting new people. 

If they don’t automatically use intonation appropriate for surprise etc, why not model it before the


Eg. How old are you? 

A hundred and fifty seven. 

Really? (said with rising intonation and a long stretch of the word) 

This game ensures that students really listen to the answers of their questions as it is an

information gap – they won’t know what the answers will be.

(adapted from onestopenglish.com) 


Warmer 17 


In this icebreaker, quotations magnify central themes and raise issues that result in lively

discussion and debate. They can be light-hearted or serious, authentic or fabricated. 

Identify quotations that are appropriate for your target audience. Use the education-related

quotes below or find quotations at quotations.about.com. 

Write quotations on strips of paper and insert them in fortune cookies. If time is limited simply

fold them and place them in a container. 

Distribute the fortune cookies to individuals, pairs or teams. 

Allow 10 minutes for students to reflect and formulate a response (agree/disagree….) 

Display on board and open to discussion. 

Some quotations: 

I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think. Socrates 

Personally, I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught. Winston Churchill 

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates.

The great teacher inspires. William Arthur Ward 

Everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching. Oscar Wilde 

What I hear, I forget What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand. Confucius 

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. Mark Twain 

What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul. Joseph Addison 

More quotation sources: 





Warmer 18 


1. Teacher writes 3 statements on the board. Two statements are true and one is not. 


I lived in Spain for a year. 

I met and spoke to Bon Jovi some years ago.

I have 8 nieces and nephews. 

2. Participants ask questions to determine which statement is false. 

   Teacher can only give yes/no answers 

3. Students vote on which statement is a lie. Teacher reveals which are truths and which are 


4. Small groups repeat steps 1-3 

5. Students then introduce each other to the rest of the class 

Taken from about.com 


Warmer 19

Bingo Icebreaker

Use this game to facilitate introductions. 


1. copy a bingo card for each player 

2. players circulate to find group members who match descriptions in the bingo squares 

3. when a match is found, the player writes the name of the individual in the square. 

4. different names must be used in each square. When a player has filled a row with names,

    she/he yells “Bingo” 

5. with the group, check the squares and identify the individuals described 

6. continue the game for a second round, with the new goal of filling the entire card 

7. when a player has filled the entire card, they yell “Bingo” 

8. check the entire card, identifying group members matching each description 



© Malta Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language