Do you ever feel your lessons begin at 10 mph with no pace or purpose? Learners stroll into your classroom, all smiles and reminiscing about their weekends? You may find it difficult to get their focus and attention and the lesson starts on their terms- not yours!! If this is the case then It’s time to strike back!
The starter activity is a staple part of any outstanding lesson and sets the tone to involve your learners from the first moment they enter the class. You may wish to stand by the classroom door and hand the starter activity to learners when they arrive welcoming them to the lesson or even have the starter materials set out on desks to prompt curiosity.

The starter activity should last no longer than 10 minutes, it should be simple, require little or no explanation from the teacher and allows time for learners to engage into the lesson. 
Here are a number of starter activities which you can develop your teaching practice: 

The traditional recap questions

The traditional recap quiz is one of the most common starter activities within teaching. Simply have 5 questions written on the board which learners can read and write down their answers. Learners can work independently or even in pairs.

The questions should be relevant to the previous lesson and serves as a refresh exercise. Once 5 minutes has elapsed, you can ask both nominated and open questions to seek the feedback from the learners.

This can also be an important tool to check whether or not information has been attained, if not then it would be wise to visit some of the previous taught content. 

Tip! Use miniature white boards to write on rather than paper as this will reduce your own preparation time.


This speaking and listening game involves learners working collaboratively in pairs- one is the ‘speaker’ and the other is the ‘listener’. The ‘speaker’ describes the word-without saying what it is, the ‘listener’ will attempt to say the word. Once correct the ‘speaker’ moves onto the next card.

For this interactive activity you will simply need to create cards which are relevant to your own subject, it can include famous land marks, objects or celebrities. For example, for Sport you may wish to include famous athletes such as: Andy Murray, Paula Radcliffe and David Beckham. 

Tip! After 2 mins, change over roles. At the end of the game get each pair to total up how many words they have described correctly 

True or false Flash Cards

The classic true or false quiz starter activity which involves the learner thinking whether the statement is either true or false. Place A4 printed true or false cards on each learner’s desk and read out a series of questions. Just watch as learners will apprehensively put their true or false cards in the air and look around the room to see what their classmates have chosen.

This informal starter is excellent for promoting curiosity especially when you ask random facts about your subject area. It is a quick and simple starter which will improve learners listening skills. 

Tip! You can even get a confident learner to be the quiz master and read out the questions. 


The anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of a different word or phrase, typically using all the original letters exactly once. The list of anagram words can be associated words with the unit or topic that you are teaching at the moment.

This activity is usually completed within silence and it is an activity which can help to relax learners from a busy day to focus upon the lesson ahead.

Cross word or word search activities

When you ask your learners to complete a cross word or word search activity they may ‘roll their eyes’ at first. However by simply adding a timer and a competitive element to the activity- you will be able to hear a pin drop due to the concentration. 

Tip! There are many cross word creators that can create your own activity without you having to make one yourself

News flash

One hallmark of every great teacher is to stay current and keep with the times. When your subject area is mentioned within the news, it is important to show these and developments to your learners. 

Put pictures on your board and ask them to write down ‘what’s the story?’ ‘Why is this person in the news?’ ‘What’s the impact of this issue on society?’ ‘What is your opinion about this topic?’

As important as it is to show your students updates about current affairs, it is more significant for learners to express their views and opinions.  Opportunities to express own opinion in these activities will help to promote an ‘openness’ within your classroom and differences of thought can be shared. 

Student Starter

Why should it be down for the teacher to organise the starter activity? A challenge that you can set to your class is to devise a student starter where each learner must deliver a 5 minute talk on a topic of their choice.

Think of this activity as a ‘speaker’s corner’ or ‘show and tell’. The learner has the opportunity to talk about a subject which is close to their heart- it can be anything from a hobby, interest or even a miniature micro teach.  

Tip! Devise a plan where each learner will deliver their topic- you will have many lessons starters covered. 


Starters do not always have to be teacher-led, why not show a short video to gauge interest from the start of the lesson. You can always create an activity template for learners to fill in whilst they are watching the video if you wish.

The videos can be anything from the latest news, debates, documentaries or film extracts. After the video you can ask learners to share their thoughts and opinions to create discussion. 

Interactive Quiz: Socrative or Kahoot

A starter where learners can use their mobile phones or even I-pads/laptops is an interactive quiz using typical websites such as Socrative and Kahoot! 

These free apps help you to create interactive quizzes where all learners participate within teams or individually in a time bound challenges. Progress and results of learners can be shared on the board to help foster a competitive element. 

Tip! These quizzes are simple to create and can be shared with a team of teachers or department helping to reduce planning time.

Definition Match 

A simple starter which focuses on key terminology being at the forefront of this activity. If you have learnt about complex ideas or terms, it is good for learners to attempt this exercise. With time, they will understand clearly the correct terms. Let learners experiment with this task and be at hand to explain to them the correct answers.

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