Warm-Up Activities for English Class

Jumping right into an English lesson is difficult for some learners. The quiet concentration necessary in an English class differs greatly from the raucous movement that usually occurs in the hallways. Upon arrival in class, students need to adjust to this vastly different environment and get into the learning mode. English teachers can help their students accomplish this goal by beginning their classes with simple warm ups. These engaging activities allow students to ease into English and prepare to delve into complex topics of study.

1 Journal

The most common, and most easily implemented, English class warm-up is a journal. Teachers can easily implement journal writing by providing students with a spiral notebook or other bound writing piece. The teacher can place journal prompts on the board daily, or simply ask the students to write about events that are occurring in their life at that time. To ensure that journals are effective, teachers should set a time frame for response and clearly communicate their length and content requirements to students.

2 Mysterious Object Descriptions

Get students into the mood to learn by challenging them. Start off class by presenting students with an object that is not easily identifiable. Visit your local hardware store or a rummage sale and pick up some old or abnormal objects such as plumbing fixtures or antique machines. Ask students to start class by describing the object in as much detail as possible and hypothesizing a potential use for the object in question. After students have made their guesses, show the object’s true purpose to your students.

3 Part-of-Speech Challenge

Begin class with a part-of-speech review. Copy a passage out of a textbook or class novel and give it to students as they enter the class. Once class begins, instruct students to highlight or circle a set part of speech in the passage. You could, for example, ask them to circle any nouns they find. After students have had the opportunity to seek out the assigned part of speech, go over the answers, allowing them to mark any words that they missed.

4 Picture Description

Present students with interesting picture prompts and ask them to describe the events shown in the image. Select award-winning journalistic photos or any other images that you feel would be of high interest to your students. Pass out copies of the image, or project it onto a screen using an LCD or overhead projector. Give the students time to complete their descriptions, and then allow them to share their thoughts and feelings about the image with their classmates.

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.