Children in classroom with hands up

12 innovative and fun ways to start class

Let’s face it: School isn’t always the most exciting place for most kids to be. As a teacher, you may find it difficult to think of new, fresh ideas for your classroom. Especially as the end of the year draws near, your class routine can become mundane for everyone. Adding fun, new activities at the start of class can motivate kids to want to come to school, boost grades, and encourage positive behavior.

Bell ringers are a great way to break the ice every day at the beginning of class. They are a fun way to get students engaged and receptive to learning without sacrificing the need for a daily routine. Here are some bell ringer ideas to help warm up your class for the day.

12 warm-up activities in the classroom

Students playing Classcraft
Photo: Classcraft

1. Play Classcraft 

Classcraft is an online platform that uses the fun of games to make lessons stick and reinforces positive behavior. The game itself is in the interaction between students, the online aspect plays a supporting role. 

Each student creates their own profile and character to use throughout the year. When students show positive behaviors, like helping classmates, they earn experience points (XP). They can trade in XP to level up their character and unlock new abilities in the real world, like eating in class. The game builds a positive classroom climate and gives students opportunities to help each other. When there is negative behavior, such as bullying, there can be a loss of XP.  

Classcraft’s random events feature offers a great way to start class. Called The Riders of Vay, these minigames allow you to reward your students for completing tasks. You can challenge students to answer class-related questions and reward them for correct answers. Classcraft is a wonderful way to make lessons stick and reinforce good behavior with rewards that will excite your students.

2. Try popcorn reading

Popcorn reading is a great way to keep kids engaged while exercising their brain muscles. The rules are simple: One student starts reading aloud and then calls out “popcorn” when they finish. This prompts the next student to pick up where the previous one left off. You can choose the reading order with a seating chart, or you can have each student pick the next person that will read aloud. If you choose the latter option, be sure to have a system in place that prevents one student from reading aloud many times.

3. Play hangman

Hangman is a versatile game you can play for fun or tie into the lesson for the day. Pick a word that won’t be easy to guess for the best results. If you want to kick it up a notch, let your students take turns leading the game. Getting them involved in picking the day’s word will make things more fun for everyone. You can appoint students to be leaders as a way to reward good behavior, or you can make sure everyone gets a term by going alphabetically.

4. Have sharing time 

Sharing time is a dedicated period where each student can share what is going on in their lives. There are no rules about what they can share during this time (as long as it’s appropriate, of course). You and your students might talk about plans for the weekend, a good thing that happened throughout the week, or things you’re looking forward to. This will be a fun time for everyone to decompress and get the juices flowing before you dive into the lesson plan.

Boy playing with blocks
Photo: Michal Parzuchowski/unsplash

5. Solve a brain teaser 

Brain teasers are an easy way to kick off class time right. There is no shortage of resources to pull from the internet, and brain teasers are fun for kids and teachers alike. These don’t have to relate to the subject matter, which makes this option great for all ages. Write one on the board before class, and give your students a little time to solve it on their own.

6. Watch a video 

With technology being center stage, most kids enjoy watching TV and playing video games in their free time. What better way to start class than to do something everyone enjoys? The video can be educational or goofy. Some all-time favorites are cat videos, music videos (as long as they’re appropriate), and baby videos. There are also lots of family-friendly YouTube channels you can pick from.

7. Start a debate

If your kids seem to be always dragging feet in the classroom, a great way to get the blood pumping is to start a debate. These can center around hot-button topics, or they can be silly. The subject doesn’t matter — just make sure everyone gets involved and voices their opinions. You could try topics like, “Should students have permission to use cellphones during school hours?” for a serious debate. If you are going for a more playful approach, try something like, “Do pineapples belong on pizza?” 

Pro tip: Let the class pick the topic for maximum engagement and fun!

8. Present a writing prompt

Do you need a bell ringer that requires minimal preparation but takes up more than five minutes of the beginning of class? Writing prompts are the perfect solution! There is an unlimited variety of subjects to choose from that will interest you and your students. You can use prompts like, “What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?” or, “What is an event in the world that deserves to be trending on Twitter?”

This presents an opportunity for students to express themselves while talking about subjects they are passionate about. Here’s a twist: You can use a picture as a writing prompt instead of actual words. This will really get the creative juices flowing.

Woman writing
Photo: Ben Mullin/Unsplash

9. Create a crossword

Before class is in session, write a word on the board crossword-style. Invite each student to the board to create a new word stemming from the letters that are already available. This one is great for engaging your more introverted students in classroom activities. You can make the game even more fun by giving letters value and offering prizes like a free pass for missing homework or an extra credit opportunity.

10. Take a breather

Sometimes, the best way to get ready for class is to settle down a bit before it begins. Try starting each day off with quiet time. Use this time to meditate or read. Your students will appreciate the freedom to spend this time as they choose. You can earmark quiet time to brush up on study guides, so try this one on test day and see how it affects your class’s grades. 

11. Joke of the day

At the beginning of each day, write a new joke on the whiteboard. You might get a few moans and groans (especially if you have teenagers), but it’s a surefire way to boost morale and show your more playful side. When you give your students a chance to see a different side of you, they’ll appreciate your genuineness and be more motivated to apply themselves in your class.

12. Let loose

Take five minutes at the beginning of class to let your students let loose. Use this time to do things that aren’t normally permitted, like having several conversations at once or using cellphones. You could also have everyone run in place or engage in physical activity if you don’t want to compromise class rules. This will allow your students to get the excess energy out of their systems before you start your lesson for the day.

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