I use fun ESL warm up activities in my classes before the lesson begins, to break the ice or even as a time filler. Warmers bring energy to class and definitely fills the time with more learning when the lesson runs shorter than expected.

Below are some of the games that I have been using in my English class with available PowerPoint templates to help you start. I hope you would find them useful in your class.

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ESL Warm Up Activities and Games

Boggle Vocabulary Game

ESL Warm Up Activities - boggle vocabulary game

This game is based off of the game BOGGLE in which players attempt to find words in sequences of adjacent letters.

The purpose of the game is to discover as many words as possible within a jumbled square of twenty five randomly selected letters. A valid word can only be formed if each letter is contiguous (i.e. side-by-side, above or below, or on the diagonal) with the next, and no letter position can be used more than once in any given word.

Game Type: Individual, Pair, Group

Vocabulary BINGO

ESL Warm Up Activities  - BINGO Vocabulary Review Game: All you need is a pen and a notebook!

This is a quick, no-prep vocabulary review game. Use the PowerPoint to show the winning pattern for the round. Students can make the grid and write the vocabulary words on their notebook or you may use the BINGO card template.

Disappearing Words

ESL Warm Up Activities 
 - Disappearing Words Game

In this simple activity, students are shown a word, phrase or sentence that disappears in 2 seconds! They need to remember what they saw and write them down on a mini-whiteboard or paper. The fastest team to show the correct answer wins the round.

Game Type: Individual, Team

Give Me 5!

ESL Warm Up Activities

The teacher calls out a student to give 5 things on a given category in 30 seconds! This is a good activity for reviewing vocabulary.

Game Type: Individual

Word Snake

ESL Warm Up Activities

Each team makes a line near the board, then one student per team comes up to the white board and writes a word. The next student has to use the last letter of the word on the board to make another word. At the end of the game, the team with the longest word snake with all the words joined up wins the game.

Game Type: Team

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Hidden Pictures

ESL Warm Up Activities

The teacher slowly removes the squares while students take turn guessing what is the picture hidden behind it. The student who guesses the right word wins the game.

Game Type: Individual

Hot Seat

ESL Warm Up Activities

One student will help the person in the “hot seat” to guess the secret image behind him/her before the time runs out! This is a classic way to develop word association and description.

Game Type: Pair, Team

Categories Guessing Game

ESL Warm Up Activities

This is like a Hot Seat 2.0 game where the person in the hot seat has to guess what’s behind him. This time however, they need to guess as many words as they can from a chosen category within a limited period of time! Fun right?!

Game Type: Pair, Group

I.N.I.T.I.A.L.S.

ESL Warm Up Activities

Students are shown different pictures and they need to take the first letter from each picture to form the mystery word. This is a fun activity that tests students vocabulary!

Game Type: Individual, Team

Pelmanism

ESL Warm Up Activities

This is a matching type activity where each team is given a set of cards. Students spread out the cards on the table face down and take turns picking up a card and finding its pair.

Game Type: Team

Sleeping Pandas

Students form a group of four and number themselves from 1-4. Students will all โ€œsleepโ€ by putting their heads down. When they hear the teacher calls their own number, they will “wake up” and have to remember what they see. After 4 rounds, everyone โ€œwakes upโ€ and puts the word or sentence together.

Game Type: Team

Visual Puzzles

ESL Warm Up Activities

In this simple game, students will guess the mystery word based on two or three pictures. The pictures are the clue to the puzzle so the students must be able to identify them first, then combine the words to get the answer. For example, the pictures of an “ice” and a letter “T” will create the word “iced tea” if combined.

Game Type: Individual, Team

Running Dictation

ESL Warm Up Activities  - Running Dictation

This is a classic pair work where one student is the runner and the other is the writer. The runner reads the sentence posted in the classroom walls and runs back to the writer and dictate the message. This is a really fun and loud activity that students will enjoy!

Game Type: Pair

Brain Teasers

Vocabulary Activities

Break the ice with these funny brain teasers for kids and all ages! You can also use this as a warm up for a full lesson or maybe to fill in the remaining time at the end of class. Brain teasers are good to stimulate students to think quick and critically!

Game Type: Individual, Team

Tongue Twisters

Vocabulary Activities

A tongue twister is a series of words or sounds that are usually repetitive and are difficult to pronounce quickly and correctly. Most English language teachers use tongue twisters to develop the students pronunciation and accent. Sometimes, we use tongue twisters just for the sheer fun of doing it. I often get my students to memorize this and ask them to say it out loud in class as a group and in pairs.

ESL PROJECT: SELF-PORTRAIT ADJECTIVES ACTIVITY

Anagrams

Vocabulary Activities

Anagram is a word, phrase, or name formed by rearranging the letters of another word. In this game, students work in teams to identify the original words of the 1. anagrams and 2. jumbled words. The category is Food.

Matchless

Vocabulary Activities

In this game, teacher gives a certain category and teams come up with unique answers. Only matchless answers will be given points.

Riddles

Vocabulary Activities

Teacher reveals up to 5 clues and teams race to give the correct answer! More points is given if teams guess the answer using fewer clues.

Speed Answer

Vocabulary Activities

Teacher gives a category and teams race to give a correct answer. The fastest team wins each round!

Top Five

Vocabulary Activities

This is a Family Feud-style game where teams need to come up with top 5 popular answers for each question-survey. Each question is student-friendly and appropriate for any level!

You can download these files in the resources page.

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warm up games and activities for english class

Let me know in the comments what you think about these activities!