Instructional Practices

10 Motivational Activities Before Starting a Lesson

5 Min Read
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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 motivational activities before starting a lesson can encourage kids to want to come to school, boost grades, and promote positive behavior.

Set induction activities 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.

Fun Motivational Activities for Students

1. Try popcorn reading

Popcorn reading is a great classroom motivation activity that helps 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.

2. 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 school 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. These class openers will help students to decompress and get the juices flowing, before you dive into the lesson plan.

3. 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.

4. Watch a video

With technology being center stage, most kids enjoy watching videos 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 online video channels you can pick from.

5. Start a debate

If your kids seem to be always dragging feet in the classroom, a fun way to start class, and 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 cell phones 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!

6. Present a writing prompt

Do you need motivational activites for students 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 social media?”

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.

7. Create a crossword

Before class is in session, write a word on the board. Then invite each student to the board one at a time to create a new word that crosses through letters that are already available and, collectively, creates a large crossword grid. This is a great activity before starting a lesson, because it helps engage your more introverted students. You can make the game even more fun by giving letters value and offering small prizes like a free homework pass.

8. 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. A bit of quiet time might help students feeling anxious, too, so try this one on test day and see how it affects your class’s grades.

9. 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.

10. 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 freely walking around the room. You could also have everyone run in place or engage in physical activity to help get their blood flowing before you start your lesson for the day.

This article was adapted from a blog post initially developed by the education technology company Classcraft, which was acquired by HMH in 2023. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.


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