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English Lesson Starters

What are english lesson starters.

It's a good idea to get your children's brains fired up before diving into the main teaching point for your English lesson. This is where English lesson starters come in! These are quick 5-10 minute activities that give your children a chance to get warmed up and practise some skills before starting on the main tasks of the day. They can be a fantastic way to help embed SPaG (spelling, punctuation and grammar) learning too.

English lesson starters for KS1 and KS2

10 English lesson starters for KS1 and KS2

1. Making words: Give children a set of letter tiles or display some letters on the whiteboard. Challenge children to find as many words, or the longest word, they can using the letters that they have. Children in upper KS2 could play Countdown by choosing a set of vowels and consonants, and finding the longest word they can in 30 seconds.  

2. Describe the scene: This is an English starter that you can make as simple or as complicated as you like! For KS1 children, show them a picture of a scene on the slides. This can be anything from a photo of a jungle to an illustration of snowman. You can either just let them run with it and describe what they can see, or provide specific challenges, such as seeing how many expanded noun phrases they can use to describe what they can see, or writing three full sentences in the present tense that each include capital letters and full stops.

For children in KS2, you could challenge them to write five sentences that each have a fronted adverbial , write three sentences that each have commas, include a sentence that has a relative clause, or any other grammar or punctuation element you would like them to practise.

3. Alphabetical order: Provide children with a set of words and challenge them to arrange them in alphabetical order. For children in KS1, start with words that each have a different starting letter. By upper KS2, children should be able to order words that have at least two or three of the same letter at the beginning of the word, such as macaroni, magnetic, mace, magazine, major, machine, mackerel, etc.  

To make the challenge more physical, give each child a word card and challenge them to arrange themselves into a line to show the correct alphabetical order. This can either be done as a whole class or in smaller groups.

4. A-Z game: Write a topic on the board, such as 'fruits', 'animals', 'ancient Greece', 'colours', 'countries' or 'clothes'. Challenge children to find a word starting with each letter of the alphabet that relates to the topic.

5. Dictionary Challenge: Another way to help consolidate alphabetical order, as well as getting children used to using dictionaries, is to do a dictionary challenge. Can you find a six-letter word starting with the letter k? Can you find a seven-letter word starting with s and ending in g? How many words can you find that have twelve letters? Try these differentiated Dictionary Challenge sheets to start off, but the possibilities are endless.

6. Fantastic facts: Display a statement on the board and give children a few minutes to discuss with their partner whether the fact is true or false. This is a great activity to get children used to debating. As children get older, you could include questions that pose more moral or ethical problems, such as 'It is always wrong to steal', or 'You should always do what an adult tells you.'

Fantastic Facts KS1 and KS2 English Lesson Starters

As children get older, you could include questions that pose more moral or ethical problems, such as 'It is always wrong to steal', or 'You should always do what an adult tells you.'

7. Word analysis: Another way to use a dictionary for an English starter is to provide children with a word that they are most likely unfamiliar with. Challenge children to find the word in the dictionary, classify the word, then use it in a sentence.

8. Caption Competition: Writing captions for unusual photos can be a really fun English starter that will be a useful skill to develop for when they write their own newspaper articles. Show children a picture on the slides and challenge them to come up with a simple sentence to describe concisely what is happening.

Caption Competition Early Morning Starters

9. Creative writing images: This English starter is a great way to get their creative juices flowing!. Simply show them a picture and challenge them to think up a story to go behind the image. Who are the characters? What is happening and why? What might the people be saying and why? What is the conflict and how might it be resolved? Display a few prompt questions with the image to get them started.

10. Word games: Everyone loves a word game and they are lots of fun games that are brilliant to use as an English starter.  

  • Boggle : Display 9 letters in a grid. Challenge children to make as many words as they come from the letters, only using each letter once.
  • Word webs : Like Boggle, this word game has a central letter and eight letters around it. Challenge children to make as many words as they can, always making sure that they use the central letter in each word.
  • Word ladders : Provide a start word and an end word in a ladder. Children have to work their way up the ladder by changing one letter at a time until the word has changed to the word at the top of the ladder.
  • Anagrams : Mix up the letters from spelling words children are learning, words from a topic you're studying or anything else! Challenge children to unscramble them to reveal the words.
  • Longest word : Give children a start letter. Challenge them to create a 3-letter word starting with this letter, then a 4-letter word, then 5-letter, then 6-letter. How far can they go? What is the longest word they can make?
  • Rhyming words : Provide children with any word. How many words can they find that rhymes with this word?

FREE Alphabetising Animals Challenges

Alphabetising Animals English Lesson Starter

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Dictionary Challenge English Lesson Starter

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Space Brain Teasers English Lesson Starters

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Literacy Starters

Literacy Starters

Subject: English

Age range: 11-14

Resource type: Worksheet/Activity


Last updated

17 February 2019

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pptx, 149.73 KB

A mixture of literacy starters/ Do Now tasks for students. Works well when printed 2 per page through PowerPoint. There may be a couple of typos in there but should save lots of time!

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Excellent for starters and quick literacy tasks.


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literacy lesson starters ks2

English starters – 5 minute starter activities for English lessons that get children ready to learn

Boy and girl at school desk

Children’s brains a little rusty? Get them in the mood for learning and develop their thinking skills with these quick and easy lesson starter ideas…

Steve Bowkett

1 | Penny for your thoughts

This is a flexible activity that can be focused into different topic areas. Children can either work alone or in pairs. Initially give each child (or pair) two pennies and ask them to spot as many differences between them as they can.

Prompt the children by asking them to look at patterns of wear, degree of polish or dullness, as well as more obvious differences such as dates, wording and images.

Develop children’s observational skills by showing them pictures of flowers, insects, shells and so on that look almost the same. Try the game with similar words – where / were / we’re for instance. At this stage it’s not important for children to be able to explain the differences, merely to notice them.

Download our free Powerpoint for this starter activity here.

literacy lesson starters ks2

2 | Stellar stories

Prepare a template where you scatter dots randomly over a sheet of A4 paper. Make copies to give out to groups. Prepare the class by looking at pictures of well-known constellations: Taurus, Orion, Ursa Major, etc.

Ask the children to create their own join-the-dots people, objects and creatures on the templates. You can extend the activity by telling them some of the legends behind constellations before asking them to create stories explaining their own inventions.

Download our free worksheet for this starter activity here.

literacy lesson starters ks2

3 | Playing with patterns

You will need plenty of coloured counters for these English starter activities. Begin by creating some patterns and asking the class if they can work them out, giving a few examples beforehand.

So, for instance, five red counters and two blue could be weekdays and the weekend; and four green, four yellow, four orange and four blue would represent the twelve months of the year through the four seasons.

When children have worked out some of your patterns, invite them to create new ones of their own.

4 | A cloud of questions

Show the class an everyday object, such as a pencil. The task is to ask as many questions as possible about the pencil in a certain time, say two minutes.

Give a few examples beforehand – why is it called a pencil? When were pencils first invented? How do you get the lead inside the pencil? And so on. Ideally the questions should be noted down.

Extend the activity by doing a ‘questions analysis’. Which questions can be answered easily? Which questions theoretically have an answer but it can never be found (eg how many pencils exist in the world?). Which areas of knowledge do the questions apply to – history, science, literacy etc.

Take things further by encouraging children to question a statement such as, ‘Napoleon died on St Helena. Wellington was very saddened’. Who was Napoleon? When and how did he die? Where is St Helena? Why was he there? Who was Wellington? Why was he saddened?

This activity helps children to become more proactive in their learning, rather than be the passive recipients of facts and opinions.

5 | The maybe hand

Use a vague sentence such as ‘Jones lay slumped on the sofa’. Invite the children to open their hand palm upwards and imagine that the sentence is written in the middle. The fingers and thumb represent ‘maybes’ in answer to a prompt question such as ‘Who or what is Jones?’

Maybe he’s a child, maybe a man, maybe a woman, maybe a cat, maybe a dog. The maybe hand is a visual and tactile representation of speculation as a thinking skill.

The words or object imagined on the palm is the focus for the thinking while the fingers and thumb represent five possible answers. The technique also encourages children to think beyond a single answer.

6 | Sticky words

Explain to the class that ‘because’ is a ‘sticky’ word; whenever you use it you have to stick a reason on to it. Again use a vague sentence, such as the one in ‘the maybe hand’.

Invite children to come up with an interesting and appropriate reason each time you say ‘because’. So – Jones lay slumped on the sofa because? (He was tired.) He was tired because? (He’d been working hard.) He’d been working hard because? (He needed to save £500.) He needed to save £500 because… And so on.

7 | Indefinite definitions

Begin by giving children a definition to think about. For example, ‘bird’. ‘A bird is a feathered animal that flies.’

Ask how many children agree with that description before you begin to challenge it. What about flightless birds such as ostriches? What if a bird is dead? What if it is in a cage? What if its wings have been clipped? Encourage the children to wrangle with these questions in an attempt to refine the definition.

8 | The ultimate 20 questions

Want more starter activity ideas? This old favourite can be used to sharpen children’s reasoning and questioning skills.

As a variation on the familiar game, prepare a grid focused on a particular topic such as animals. Place a picture of a different animal in each box and write vocabulary related to the topic around the grid. Then run the game as normal, encouraging the children to incorporate as much of the vocabulary as possible into their questions.

Extend the activity by doing a questions analysis afterwards. Which were the most useful questions in working towards an answer? Which questions were not so useful and why? Which were the most frequently asked questions?

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Literacy Starter Activites and Games

literacy lesson starters ks2

Literacy Starter of the Day

  • A reminder!!

A starter to help us remember to vary our words today, this is after one of my class was reminded after their 100wc last week to use a variety of words, other than said.

How many other words can you think of instead of ‘said’?

  • Making sentences

Click the link  below for an interactive starter today, taken from the BBC skillswise site.

  • What can you see?

Describe what you can see in the picture below. Try to use different and interesting adjectives.


Add adjectives to the following passage to make it sound more interesting.

As I walked down the road, I kept thinking about the house I had just passed.  It sat on the hill above the village.  The windows, door and bushes surrounding it made it look very frightening.  The drive up to the house seemed to go on forever.   I wonder who lived there?

Now we are seeing a lot more of the sun, lets see how many different similes we can make for the sun….

The sun is as…….

The sun is like a ………

Can you also try a metaphor? The sun is……

Sentence starters

Write a sentence (or sentences) using each of the following words to start your sentence.

E.g. Petrified I turned around, I couldn’t see anything!   Where had the noise come from?

1.  Surprised

2.  Suddenly

3. Eventually


Imagine you are the man in the picture, write at least 5 sentences about what is happening. Remember, make your sentences complex and don’t forget your punctuation. Think – where, when, why, how


Sentence starters!

Use the following similes to start a sentence:

1.  As quiet as a mouse,………………………..

2.  As tall as a giant, ……………………………….

3.  As quick as a cheetah, …………………………….

Imagine you were part of the picture below. Think where, what, why, how were you feeling. Don’t forget to punctuate your sentences.



Write a sentence, using alliteration ,  to describe a character from the book you are currently reading.

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  • May 26, 2020
  • 25 min read

A starter should:

Be a rapid exciting and often novel start to a lesson (grabs attention and engagement)

May or may not be related to main content

Be imaginative – use photos, artefacts, problems, challenges, literacy, numeracy, matching, sorting, classifying, word games, music

S tarter activities for different purposes

To begin a new topic or introduce a new idea

To remind pupils what they have learned

To set out the learning for the lesson

To find out what pupils already know

We suggest that planning a good start to a lesson should involve asking yourself three questions.

‘How will I get the pupils to remind themselves of prior learning?’

‘What do I want the pupils to know/be able to do by the end of the activity or lesson?’

‘How can I inspire interest in the learning to come?’

Of these three questions the last is probably the most challenging, however, there are a number of pitfalls to avoid when considering the first two.

The first question quite deliberately includes the phrase ‘ remind themselves of prior learning’. It is not effective practice to talk through the content of the last lesson, nor is it effective to begin every lesson with a question and answer session based on the last lesson. In its simplest form ‘reminding themselves’ might involve pupils spending two minutes (giving a set time is vital to the process) reading over notes or worksheets from the last lesson and picking out the three most important ideas covered.

The teacher can then bring the class together and ask representatives to suggest their most important learning points. It should mean that pupils are all actively engaged in reviewing prior learning rather than listening to the teacher talk about it and ask questions of a few selected pupils.

What makes an effective starter?

literacy lesson starters ks2

Plan effectively, with a clear reason for the starter which will enable a smooth transition from starter to the main tasks of the lesson, and a useful link to the plenary.


Develop a wide range of interactive teaching strategies and techniques. This will also help establish pace, engagement and challenge immediately. You can tailor the timings to suit the age and ability of your class, like

Ensure that you are aware of the techniques required to shape and develop learning from the starter, onwards. A confusing starter will often lead to lack of clarity understand the lesson’s objectives Starters are an excellent opportunity to engage students immediately with learning objectives. If you don’t like the starter at a restaurant, what does it say about the main meal?

What's hot!

Make sure that starters create a challenge.

Create an expectation that all students will be involved in the starter.

Plan it as a discrete element of the lesson.

Make sure that starters show progression over time, and that there is a variety of tasks. You could include sound effects, music and actions.

Keep the instructions clear and precise.

Reward positive involvement in starters.

Peer observe and discuss ideas in departmental meetings.

Keep starters short (roughly 5 minutes), and intervene to move the lesson forward.

Create links between the previous lesson, current learning objectives and the plenary. This enables students to relate ideas and information to previous knowledge and experience.

Reflect on the interactive teaching skills necessary to maximise the learning.

What's not!

Make sure that the starter does not simply target a particular group.

Avoid administrative tasks e.g. register, which sometimes holds up the starter and creates an opportunity for disruption with certain groups.

Make sure that the starter does not eat into the main body of the lesson.

Don't just consider the starter to be a reluctant add-on.

Don't make starters too easy.

Be careful not to introduce starters which may disrupt the lesson.

Don't make the starter an action of reproducing facts and information.

Starter Ideas

literacy lesson starters ks2

Starters, Middles and Plenaries

1. Shark (Version of hangman)

A volunteer from the class chooses to be the person walking the cliff. Draw them on the end of the cliff. Pupils call out letters, teacher writes correct letters into the word and notes incorrect ones on w/b as a reminder. For every incorrect letter, the person moves further along the cliff, finally falling into the shark's mouth. This can be made kinaesthetic by having a pupil move along an imaginary cliff.

2. Key Word Bingo

Pupils have key words on their bingo cards. The teacher reads out definitions, pupil crosses out matching key word. The first to cross out all their words shouts' Bingo' and wins a prize.

3. Constantinople

Pupils have 5 minutes to make as many words as possible from the letters in a long word.

4. Blockbusters

Split the class in half and assign each half a colour, see below. The red team have to get from top to bottom and the blue team have to get from left to right, (not necessarily in a straight line). The teacher begins by asking a question for the letter in the middle of the grid, e.g. what '5' is another term for 'taking away' or 'minus'? Pupils must put hand up and not shout out answer (tell pupils that if they shout out, it will go straight to the other team to guess). The correct answer wins the team a blob of their colour in the square, that team then chooses the next letter. The first team to get from one side to the other wins (can be a zigzag line)

5. Spelling Patterns and Spelling Roots

Teams find as many words as possible with the same spelling pattern or root, e.g.: light, sight, bright automobile, autograph, autobiography

6. Key Word Pictionary

Split class into 2 teams and split the w/b in half by drawing a line down the middle. One member of each team comes to the w/b, the teacher shows them both the same word to be drawn. The students draw the word in their half of the w/b and the first team to call out the correct word wins a point (it doesn't matter if they are looking at both students' drawings). Repeat.

7. Memory Game

Write 15 words on the w/b or on flashcards. Give pupils a couple of minutes to memorise them then rub out / remove words. Pupils see how many they can remember. This should be differentiated by using words varying in difficulty, both in terms of meaning and spelling. Can be played in teams with more words.

8. Just a Minute - or two

Put pupils in groups of 3-4 and give them a topic to talk about (this could be a revision topic or a means of introducing a new topic). The aim is for the group to talk for a minute (or 2) about the topic. One pupil is chosen to start talking, he/she will need a talking prop to pass round (e.g. a pencil case). As soon as the pupil runs out of things to say or begins pausing, he/she should pass the pencil case to another pupil to continue. Pupils in the group can offer to take the 'prop' and continue talking when they feel someone is drying up.

This can be done throughout a unit of work - the more pupils learn, the longer they should be able to talk about the topic. The repetition should consolidate pupils' learning, and by gradually extending the time, pupils will also see that their learning is 'extending'.

9. Missing letter Note

Ask pupils to rewrite a note without using a particular letter. E.g. rewrite "Your dinner is in the dog'" without using the letter 'd'. . Could also be done using key words and definitions.

10. Change the Word

Pupils try to change a word into another word in so many moves, by changing one letter each time. E.g.

Warm - Cold: Warm Warg WQrd ford Cojd

11. Sentence Expansion

Pupils add words and phrases to a sentence to See how much longer they can make it. This can be done in teams as a competition.

'King ...... was a bad king' can become, ' ...... King ...... who ........ in ...... when ......... was a ....... bad king because he ............. and ............... which meant.. ............ ' , A vice can be dangerous' can become, A vice which is used to ...... can be .... dangerous if.. ........ ...... because it can ......................... which will cause ............ '

The winner is the team with the most words in a grammatically correct and well punctuated sentence.

It can be used to revise facts, events, cause and effect etc and also to produce creative writing.

12. Complete Cloze

Pupils recreate a completely blanked out text (short - 2 sentences max) which matches a picture or diagram. Write the sentence on the w/b in line form, i.e. one line for each word. Show the visual. Pupils call out words and the teacher writes correct ones in the spaces. If they call a word which appears more than once, write in all occurrences of the word. Pupils draw on their knowledge of grammar and understanding of the topic to complete the sentence. This can be done as a game by setting a time limit.

13. Anagrams

Write anagrams of 6-8 subject keywords, which have been previously introduced, on the board (revision). Pupils unscramble them. E.g. amsitg, menast, lIopne, topel, psael, ytsel (Science: pollination)

14. What's the Difference?

Pupils explain the difference between two subject keywords which are closely related and may cause confusion., e.g. climate and weather. It can be used as an introduction to a new unit/ to consolidate previous learning. Pupils may need dictionaries. Encourage pupils to use whereas to signal the difference - write a sentence frame on the w/b-' ..... is..... whereas ....... is ........ '

15. Odd One Out

Write 2-4 triplets of subject keywords on the board. Pupils have to identify and explain which the ‘odd one out’ is. Encourage pupils to use the words both and whereas. Accept explanations that are logical/ convincingly explained, even though they may not be the intended distinctions.

· farming, drilling for oil, hairdressing

· Pacific, Atlantic, Asia

· hospital, block of flats, cinema

E.g. Both hospitals and cinemas provide a public service whereas a block of flats is a residence / place to live.

16. Missing Vowels

Write about 8 subject keywords on the board, omitting the vowels. Pupils work out what the vowels are. Use to consolidate previously taught vocabulary and spellings. Can extend by doing whole sentences.

E.g. frm, md, mtrls, txtr, clr (Art)

17. Venn Diagram

Write the nouns in one circle, verbs in another, and words which can be both in the middle. E.g. (D&T)

literacy lesson starters ks2

This can be made kinaesthetic by using areas of the room as parts of the venn diagram. Pupils move to stand in the correct area.

18. Antonyms

Write words on the board. Pupils match the opposite adjectives. Or, write only one of a pair and pupils supply its opposite.

E.g. shiny, flexible, smooth, inflexible / rigid, soluble, rough, insoluble etc.

Highlight prefixes where they appear Inflexible}

19. Synonyms

As above but for words with the same meaning.

E.g. wavy/ curly / curvy / undulating reflective / shiny / gleaming

20. Mini Xword Clues

Draw a completed mini crossword (with about 6 subject words) on w/b. Pupils write clues in pairs.

21. Key Word Swat

Write items of subject vocabulary, which have previously been introduced, on the board (or, for more fun, use word cards on walls spread around room). Divide class in 2 teams. One pupil from each team stands at front. Give each a fly swat or long ruler. Orally, give definitions of the words. The teams call out the answer to their reps. The first pupil to swat the correct word claims it for their team.

22. Noughts and Crosses

Draw a noughts and crosses grid on the w/b and write a number in each - 1-9. Split class in half and label them noughts or crosses. Team 1 chooses a number from grid. Teacher reads previously prepared question/ definition/ task which corresponds with that number. If pupils respond correctly, they win their 0 or X. For incorrect answers, the other team wins the 0 or X. It is now team 2's turn. First team to get 3 Os or Xs in a line wins.

23. Washing Line

Pupils have to organise words according to criteria given by the teacher. E.g. Boiling Tepid Cold Freezing Humid Sultry Sweltering Roasting Ardent Nippy Aloof Hot

Pupils could: sequence words in a line from Hot - Cold

Group words which can be used to describe the weather

Group words which can describe water temperature

Categorise words into formal and informal

Identify words that describe emotions - ask what sort of text they may find them in.

The activity can be done in groups or as a whole class collaborative activity. As a whole class, give each pupil one card as they come in (differentiate word-pupil), give them a time limit to sequence themselves across the room. It could be done as a competition in 2 teams with cards on 2 different colours.

24. Hidden Sentence

Volunteers sit at the front of the class (any number from 2-4). Teacher gives them a topic to discuss or argue, (revision activity), and gives a card to each pupil. Each card should have a different sentence about the topic written on it. Pupils learn their sentence. At some point during the discussion, each pupil should say their sentence as naturally as possible (and without reading it!) The rest of the class have to guess which sentence was given to them by the teacher - they will need to make notes as a reminder. This can be used to try and get pupils to use subject specific vocabulary in discussion (otherwise their sentence will stick out like a sore thumb!). It is an excellent activity for English to highlight / practice formal language. It can also be fun if one joke sentence/ really posh sentence or 'street' slang sentence is used, especially if it totally contrasts with a pupil's speaking style.

25. Twenty Questions

Pupils have a word or name stuck to their forehead. They have to ask a partner questions to find out who or what they are. The partner can only answer yes or no. It can be used to revise key words or people in History/ English/ Art etc. It can also be made kinaesthetic if pupils move around the room asking each pupil a different question.

Alternatively, split the class in half, on 2 sides of the room - label them A and B. Choose an object or person for each half to guess and write it on a piece of card. show half A, who/what half B is, and show half B, who/what half A is, by holding up the pieces of card (without the other half seeing). Each half of the class then takes it in turns to ask a question which is answered by the other half. The first 'half' to guess wins. Pupils often take a while to think of appropriate questions when playing in pairs; playing in 'halves' speeds the game up as there are more people to ask questions and they can plagiarise good questions from each other. It could also be played in groups of 6, with 3 pupils on each side. There is an iPhone App for this too which you may want to use in the classroom

26. True or False

Divide class into 2. At one end of the room, stick 2 cards to the wall, one saying 'true' the other saying 'false'. One person from each team comes and stands at the other end of the classroom. The teacher reads out a statement and the 2 pupils have to decide if it is true or false. They run to the other end of the room and stand in front of the correct card. Each correct answer scores a point for their team. Health warning: this can get very rough so only do it if pupils are reasonably sensible!

Match the pupils according to size and personality- you don't want a short, skinny, timid girl paired with a male version of a barn door on Ritalin!

27. Ready Steady Teach

Provide groups with a shopping bag of ingredients (for example, modelling clay, string, lollypop sticks, empty toilet rolls, et.). Tell them they have 5 minutes to plan an activity in which they use the ingredients to 'teach' something. E.g. how the coastal features, arches stacks and stumps are formed.

28. Mystery Object

The class are shown a mystery object. They are asked to write down five questions that, if answered, might help them to suggest what the object is.

29. Cut-Ups

Draw up a list of sentences (about 12) that revise a topic or grammatical point. Sentences should ideally be no longer than 10 words. Ensure they vary in length and difficulty. Number each sentence. Starting with sentence I, write each word in the sentence on a small piece of card (10 words = 10 cards). Put them in an envelope and write the number 1 on the envelope (it also helps to note the number of words in the sentence on the envelope so pupils can count them back in). Do the same for all sentences. Pupils should be in groups of 3-4. Ask pupils to write numbers 1-12 (depends on number of sentences) in their exercise book.

Put the envelopes on a table at the front of the room. One person from each group takes 1 envelope only back to their group. They sequence the sentence and write it in the corresponding number in their book. They then replace the word cards very carefully, counting them back in (nominate a counter), take the envelope back and take another one etc. Winning group is first to finish, providing sentences are correct. Excellent for revising a particular grammar structure, e.g. the passive (English/Science/History) or for revising a topic.

30. Articulate

Put pupils into groups of 3-4 and give each group an envelope containing at least 25 words or phrases.

Taking it in turns, pupils have 45 seconds each to explain as many words/phrases as possible without using any derivations of the word(s) (they should take one word/phrase at a time from the envelope, not a handful!). The explainer scores a point for every word/phrase they describe that is guessed correctly, (the skill is in the explaining). Pupils also score a point every time they correctly guess a word/ phrase. Good for practising subject specific terminology and for revising whole topics.

31. Topic Tennis (a fun form of brainstorming)

Pupils should be in threes. The teacher names a topic. 2 pupils take it in turns to say words relating to the topic (like word association except words don't have to directly associate to each other, just to the topic), they keep going until one person can't go. The third pupil notes down the words. These are then fed back as a whole class. This can introduce an new unit or be used as revision. It can also be scored (out loud by the third pupil) as a game of tennis, hence the name - good for PE.

32. Analogies

Pupils develop understanding by exploring relationships between words.

E.g. metal: car / : furniture. Pupils guess missing word

Metal is to car as wood is to furniture.

Pupils can produce their own 'puzzle' analogies for homework.

33 Living Photographs

Provide 1 or more photographs (containing people, e.g. a war photograph. If more than one, they should be linked in theme). In groups, pupils choose one to recreate as a freeze frame. Teacher then asks for suggestions as to what the 'bigger picture' might be - what is going on that we can't see? Pupils then create the 'bigger picture'. Ask them to be ready to speak their thoughts as the person in the photograph.

34. Taking Sides

Teacher writes statements on OHT or w/b. In pairs, pupils discuss if they agree or disagree with them. Feedback can be made kinaesthetic if Agree, Disagree and Don't Know are displayed on opposite walls - pupils move into position and should be prepared to justify their responses.

35. Show Me

Teacher writes a sentence in which there are 3·4 words to choose from to make a correct sentence.

Pupils write what they consider to be the correct word on a mini whiteboard and hold up. Enables teacher to identify which pupils need further support / intervention.

E.g. The pupil what / who / which gets the most correct answers will win a prize.

36. Compare and Contrast

Pupils identify differences between 2 pictures or photographs. They then have to explain what has changed and why it has changed.

E.g. 2 pictures showing differences in an environment - a supermarket where there was once a park.

37. Conceal and Describe

In pairs, one pupil describes a picture or photograph to their partner who draws it. The partner should ask questions if anything is unclear. Teacher then asks what was hard to describe, how it was overcome, what sort of questions helped to clarify. It enables pupils to reflect on, and improve, their explanations. It can also help pupils to See the value of knowing the correct terminology as well as giving them an opportunity to practise using it.

38. Guess the Question

Write about 6 words on individual pieces of card. The words should be connected by topic or theme.

Put them in an envelope (you will need several sets). In groups, pupils take 1 word from the envelope and, orally, ask as many questions as they can think of with that word being the answer. When they can think of no more, they take out the next word. As they go along, they should try and identify the topic or theme that links the words. Having asked questions for the last word, and hopefully identified the topic, they then identify and write down just one question for each word. This time the question should be related to the topic.

For Example:

Africa / Ship / Drowned / Triangle / Route: The Slave Trade Triangle is the topic.

The final questions could therefore be:

Where did the slaves who were part of the trade triangle come from?

How were the slaves transported to America?

What did they do to slaves if food supplies on the ship were running low?

39. Polygobbling

This works best in practical subjects. It is similar to the game 'Twenty Questions' but uses verbs rather than people. In groups, 1 pupil chooses an action (verb) that is commonly done in that subject area. The others have to try and guess the action by asking questions in which they substitute the action for the word 'polygobble' and all tense variations of it. The pupil can only answer YeS or No and can include never, rarely, occasionally, sometimes, often always. They should answer in full sentences.

The aim is to guess by asking as few questions as possible. E.g., in Food Technology:

Q: Do you ever polygobble in water? No, you never polygobble in water.

Q: Is polygobbling done on a hob? Yes, polygobbling is always done on a hob.

Q: Would you polygobble peas? No, you would rarely polygobble peas.

Q: Would you polygobble eggs? Yes, you would often polygobble eggs.

Q: Did we polygobble yesterday? Yes, we did.

Q: Is polygobbling frying? Yes, it is.

40. Maps from Memory - thinking skills activity

In groups of 3-4, pupils have to memorise and collectively reproduce a map, diagram or chart that is on the teacher's desk. All pupils should be numbered from 1-4. The teacher then calls out number ones, pupils come to the teacher's desk to look at the map/diagram/ chart for 20 seconds (without making any notes). The teacher signals the end of 20 seconds and pupils return to their groups to reproduce what they have memorised on sugar paper. Wait for about 30 seconds before calling out number twos, this gives groups a chance to organise themselves. Repeat as many times as necessary.

As they are completing the activity, pupils should be constantly asking each other the following questions (hate on w/b before beginning activity):

What strategies are you using for remembering the diagram and the text?

How are you organising yourselves to work effectively?

What are you finding easiest/most difficult about the task?

Debrief - it is the debrief that fully develops thinking skills. Ask pupils to feed back their responses to the questions and try to ensure that discussion mentions the following memorising strategies:

Using headings / subheadings

Remembering key words

Remembering the first letter of each phrase or sentence

Using a mnemonic

Remembering by rote

Seeing the parts of the diagram or text on the page (photographic memory)

The aim is for pupils to share strategies - it doesn't matter about a pupil's level of ability. all pupils will have some strategies for memorising. It is also an inclusive activity as all pupils will be able to reproduce some elements of the chart/ diagram.

What pupils notice first will differ and will depend on their learning style - use of colour, pictures, shapes, layout, headings, key words and phrases etc. It is therefore an excellent activity to do before an exam as it can help pupils identify useful revision strategies - key words on cards / notes in diagrammatic form, using shapes etc. / colour coding notes/ including images etc.

The activity serves two purposes, in addition to developing thinking skills and enabling pupils to share strategies, it is also a useful means of revising a topic.

Possible applications in different subject areas:

Technology - pupils could be asked to reproduce an item of packaging

English - the 'chart' could be a cartoon version of a scene from a Shakespeare play.

Geography - the water cycle or a map of a city

History - a map annotated with key events in a war or an army's route through a country.

Drama - A story board

Dance - a dance sequence - images and explanation of each step

PE - instructions and pictures explaining how to playa particular sport.

Art - a painting

Maths and Science - a graph

41. Memory Sequence

Adaptation of 'When I went on my holiday. I put in my suitcase ... :

Could be played in any subject where pupils follow a sequence.

e.g. in technology.

Pupil 1 - 'When I made my box. first I ..........

Pupil 2 '- When I made my box. first I .... then I ... : etc.

Good for consolidating sequences and practising time sequencing words - first. Next, then, finally etc.

42. Classroom Object Models

Pupils recreate maps. diagrams and models using objects in the classroom. For example: reproduce the outline of a country or continent using a tie reproduce a battle scene from History or represent an army's route through a country represent the digestive process - show the route of a piece of food as it travels through the body

In this activity. pupils have 4 minutes to tell the 3 main points of the lesson to 5 people. This is a fast and effective plenary activity. It can also be used as a starter but with questions instead of main points: pupils have 4 minutes to tell 5 people the 3 questions they would like answered on a particular topic.

44. Snowballing

In this activity. pupils combine ideas to find as many examples of something as pOSSible. They begin by writing down 2 ideas of their own. They combine ideas in pairs then in 4s. by joining another pair. And then in 8s etc.

45. 4 Corners

4 words, headings or categories are stuck on the wall in each corner of the room - 1 in each corner. The teacher calls out a word or sentence and pupils move to the correct area of the room, the last one to get there is out. This can be done as a whole class activity, (rowdy and can get too physical), or in teams by numbering each person - 1 person from each team plays, e.g all the ones, then the twos etc. The first person to the correct corner scores a point for their team. Examples:

Ways of cooking! Cooking implements! Weights! Liquid Measures

Verbs ! Nouns! Adjectives! Adverbs

Words that describe texture pattern tone Shape Metal Plastic Wood Textile

It can of course be played with 3 or just 2 corners of the room. The teacher reads statements and pupils move to:

Agree! Disagree

True! False

Cause! Effect

For! Against

Natural! Man made

46. "The Room is ..... "

The teacher tells the pupils what the room is, pointing out or labelling key areas.

For example:

The room is a grid square labelled with letters and!or numbers. The teacher reads out co-ordinates or map references, pupils move to the correct place.

The room is Australia, pupils are the population. They move to areas of the room to represent the density of the population.

The room is the human body, the head is here, feet are here ... Pupils represent parts of the body or internal organs.

47. Roving Reporter

ANY information can be turned into a news report, e.g. a news report of the water cycle. It can be done individually or in pairs or groups. For example, in 4s: 1 pupil announces the day's main headlines providing the' dong' of a bell sound effect between each one. 1 pupil is a newsreader in the television studio. He/she summarises the main news story.

1 pupil is the roving reporter. He/she provides the details of the story.

1 pupil is a witness who is interviewed by the roving reporter.

48. Question Catch

The teacher throws a bean bag when asking questions. This makes questioning a kinaesthetic activity and can engage pupils who don't normally volunteer to answer. You can give the pupil the option of throwing the ball to someone else if they don't know the answer. It can also be played in teams. The teacher throws the bean bag to each team in turn. If the person who catches it can answer the question, they score 3 points for their team. If they can't, they throw it to another team to score 2 points, if they can't answer it is thrown again for 1 point.

It is important to lay down rules about how the bean bag is thrown. If it is thrown too hard or at someone's head for example, the thrower loses paints for their team.

Pupils are asked to cut up a text/ image or diagram. They then give it to someone else to reproduce/sequence. It is important to tell pupils how many pieces should be in the jigsaw, otherwise some pupils will cut it into 150 tiny weeny pieces that will end up all over the floorl

50. Card Sorts

In card sorting, pupils classify, categorise, sequence, prioritise or rank order information. This requires pupils to make connections between ideas and see patterns. Card sorting is an excellent means of developing pupils ability to: structure writing in a logical way; support their ideas with evidence; identify what is relevant and irrelevant. Particularly useful in English, History, Geography, RE and PSHE

An example from a History lesson on slavery:

Give each group an envelope containing the cards and a piece of sugar paper. Explain that on cards in the envelope are points which answer the following question:

What was life like for sloves?

Some are 'big' points and some are 'little' supporting points. There are also 2-3 points which are about slavery (topic relevant), but which are not relevant to the question.

Differentiation/ Extension

C) The 'big' points are in bold, the 'little' points are not. Pupils match little supporting points to the big points.

B) As above but include more cards than for group C

A) Pupils devise their own way of grouping the points and write their own headings on blank cards provided

Pupils try and identify the irrelevant points and put these outside the' zone of relevance', i.e. outside the sugar paper.

Pupils rank big points so the 'biggest big' point comes first. They then rank order the little supporting points. A further extension task can be to add an extra little point of your own to each big point. Pupils write these on blank cards provided. Pupils can be asked to note only the key word from each point onto a 'Big Points - Little Points' grid. Later, pupils use their key word note grid to reproduce the essay, 'What was life like for slaves?'

Other sorting ideas.

Points which are:

For à Against

Cause à Effect

Relevant à Irrelevant

Similarities à Differences

Description à Explanation

51. Card Loop

The teacher writes a list of questions and answers and transfers these onto card, putting the answer to the first question on the second card, for example:

Give one card to each pupil, making sure you know who has the first question, ask that person to read their question. Pupils have to listen carefully and be ready to call out if they have the answer – they read the answer and then read their question etc etc. The last question is on the first person's card so you know when the activity is finished. If you have too many cards, give more than 1 card to higher attainers. If you have more pupils than questions, pair some pupils.

This is an excellent activity for end of unit revision. The same Card Loop activity can be used several times as a means of review and revision - pupils will get a different question and answer card each time.

Alternative ways of using the activity/ to speed up the activity: split the class into 2 groups to do the activity separately (means you need t the number of questions) do it as a mingling activity - pupils move around the room trying to find the person with the answer to their card - they will end up in a line in a domino effect.

Get the pupils to write the questions:

Ask pupils to write 5-8 questions and answers on a given topic for homework. When marking their books, circle questions which are appropriate for this activity, ensuring that you don't circle the same question more than once. In the next lesson, give each pupil a blank piece of card and ask them to fold it in half. Ask them to write the question circled in their book in the first half of the piece of card. Take in the cards and give them back out again, (if any pupil receives their question again, they should tell you so you can swap cards with someone else), pupils then write the answer to their own previous question in the second half of the new card. You now have a prepared loop game.

52. Post-it Note Groups

On 4 sheets of A3 paper, stick, write or place a different question/ statement/ picture/ painting /diagram or object. Put pupils into 4 groups. Give each group A, B, C or D one of the sheets so each group has a different one Also give some post-it notes to each group. Pupils have 2 minutes to respond to the question/ describe the visual! annotate the diagram etc. They write their responses on post-its, legibly and stick on the A3 paper. Now, group A moves to group B's table, B to C's table, C to D's table and D to A's. They read the previous post-it notes and add to the responses - they cannot repeat ideas. Groups move around again and repeat. Each time their thinking will be extended as they cannot repeat ideas. Pupils move back to original table to read their post -its. Groups feed back to the class.

This activity is: visual; auditory; kinaesthetic; differentiated to support weaker pupils; an excellent means of extending pupils; quick to resource (it may sound complicated but it isn't!); an excellent way of getting pupils to 'see the details' as preparation for written work, essay, evaluation, design notes, and it can be applied in almost all subject areas.

A product is placed on the paper and pupils write annotations - e.g. in Food Tech, it could be an item of food to taste- pupils write descriptions of taste, texture, smell etc. In Tech, it could be a lamp, pupils write annotations to describe what each part is made of, colour, texture, how it is put together etc

A diagram/ chart is placed on the paper - pupils annotate it.

A picture or photograph is placed on the paper - pupils annotate or describe features of the picture/photo or write questions based on the picture/photo:

In Art: they could be given headings to help them - colour, texture, tone, line, perspective, medium etc

A question is written on the paper for pupils to answer- In what way was King John a good King?

Who was to blame for Romeo's death and why? - What are the features of Buddhism? - What are the rules for volleyball? - What are the rules for writing a recipe? - What presentation and layout features do you need to consider when producing an advertisement? - What methods are there for doing mental addition? Obviously it needs to be a 'big' question that has a variety of answers.

To develop pupil questioning: provide an image or diagram and write the following WH/H questions on each sheet: What/ When/ Why/ Where/ Which/ Who/How. Pupils have to ask the questions. Their thinking can be further extended by modelling higher order questions, e.g. what would happen if ... ? If the ... was changed to .... what effect would it have?

This could be done at the beginning of a unit and the questions displayed and used as learning objectives and a means of pupils monitoring their own progress.

This activity is really only limited by imagination. It can be applied in many different ways, in many subjects and can be organised in many different ways.

54. One Question Behind

Give pupils a list of 8-12 questions on a particular topic, or as a whole class, get pupils to come up with the questions and write them on the w!b. The aim of the game is to answer each question with the previous question's answer.

Demonstrate to pupils: get one pupil to ask you the first question but respond with a 'Mmmm'. When they ask the second question, you give the answer to the first question and so on. The combinations can be quite amusing. Give out the list of questions or use ones written on the board, pairs then have a go. You could give a prize to the first pair to get through the whole list. This is a good activity for end of unit revision and regular reviews, as the fun and game element means pupils will be willing to ask and answer the questions on many different occasions. It can be made 'new' again by having the same questions in a different order.

55. KWL Grid

This is a 3 column grid with the headings: What I already Know! What I Want to know! What I have learned.

When beginning a topic, pupils brainstorm everything they already know about it and write notes in the K column

They then write some questions that they would like to have answered throughout the unit in the W column.

At the end of a lesson or unit, pupils complete the L column.

This is an excellent means of scaffolding a lesson or unit of work.

56. Heads Together.

This activity is a means of ensuring all pupils are involved in Question and Answer routines. Put pupils into groups of 4 and ask them to number themselves 1-4. Tell them you will ask a series of progressively more challenging questions that all pupils will be expected to answer - in fact they will not know who will be called on to answer the question. Ask the first question and say 'Heads Together' - pupils have to discuss the answer to the question and ALL must be able to verbalise it. Call out a number between 1-4. If you call number 3, all number 3s must put up their hand, you then choose one of them to answer the question. Ask the other number 3s if they agree with the answer and if they would like to add anything further. Ask the next question and repeat. If pupils do not put up their hands when you call a number, it will show that they need more discussion time. This is an excellent plenary activity. It could also be turned into a competition if scoring is used.

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