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.
The Ages of Man
Write down these words on seven cards:
Write down these words on seven different coloured cards
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)
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
Insect type of food
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)
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
Students then rank the picture(s) chosen by most students and complete the sentence below
The pictures that best represent the class are…….
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)
FORTUNE COOKIE ICEBREAKER
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.
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:
EVERYONE’S A LIAR
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
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