I always like to start my elementary and middle school Spanish classes with an easy warm-up to help students get focused, ease in to using their Spanish, and set a comfortable, friendly tone for the class. I keep the activities simple using material that the students have already mastered. Once in a while I will put something “new” in, but it is more of a fun tidbit that will catch their interest and still get them warmed up.
We always do our warm up after I have greeted them with “buenos días” or “buenas tardes”, collected and handed back homework, and they have put all their backpacks and things down. My classes meet once a week, so I do the sam warm up for a few weeks in a row and then switch to a different warm up. If my classes met more often, I would probably do the same warm up for a few days and then change it.
These are 10 things I do:
- Round robin asking/answering questions. I write a few easy questions on the board that we go in a circle asking and answering to the next person. We do questions like, ¿Cómo te llamas?, ¿De dónde eres?, ¿Cómo estás?, ¿Cuántos años tienes?, and so on. I write these on the board. I like using these types of questions because although they are so basic, kids forget them when they don’t use them! With my elementary students I usually say to them: “Por favor, levántense, vengan aquí, y siéntense en un círculo.” They know to come and sit in a circle in the center of class on a rug to do the warm up. For my older classes we just go around the room rather than sitting on the floor. If a class is larger, I split students into smaller circles and let them go round robin on their own.
- Round robin questions/answers to “pat, clap, snap, snap”. To do this we first get the rhythm going by patting our laps once, then clapping once, then snapping with the left hand, then the right. Once we get this going, we go around asking and answering a simple question like, ¿Cómo te llamas?, to the rhythm. We laugh a lot with this because someone always messes it up, but then we start again and keep going. The kids do enjoy this!
- Sing a simple song together. This works best with elementary students. Some simple ones are the Buenos días Song, Veinte amigos Song, and Days of the Week. Another idea, is that sometime, create a simple song together with your students using material they are learning. Then use if for warm-up.
- Play Simón dice (Simon Says). Use commands and vocabulary your students know well. Gets them listening and doing right away! Even let volunteers be Simón to say one or two sentences.
- Mingling Activity. I just write several questions in Spanish on the board that I know the students easily know how to answer. They come to the center of the room and “mingle” asking different questions to different people.
- Say a tongue twister together. This is a fun tidbit that still helps them warm up. Write a tongue twister on the board that helps practice pronunciation of a certain letter, for example “r”. Read it aloud together trying to say it faster each time.
- Try to Pronounce These. Write some words on the board that you know they can pronounce but include a few that have more challenging letters. Have them look at the words for a minute or so and then together read them aloud. To add fun to this, you can use words they’ve never seen and then tell them the meanings as you say them. Pick words they would think are fun to know, like how to say “popcorn”, “bubble gum”, “rhinoceros”, etc. or words that are fun to say in Spanish like, “espantapájaros” (scarecrow), “murciélago” (bat), and so on.
- Geography Questions. If you have a large map visible to all the students, write on the board questions asking where some Spanish speaking countries are located along with the choices: Norteamérica, Sudamérica, Europa, Centroamérica. This is fun even if the students haven’t learned prior where these are because the choices are easy to figure out, and the kids usually enjoy trying to find them. Then ask each question as well as the choices aloud and allow students to shout out the answer.
- Challenge Sentences. This is a little different warm up in that it is more like a brain teaser. You write a sentence on the board that they can probably figure out the meaning of using what they have been learning. When they come into the room, ask them if they think they can figure out what it means without using any online help. Once everyone is settled, you can all read it aloud and students can tell you what they think it means.
- Students write an easy question to ask the person next to him/her. Once they have their questions, they ask and answer them.
Maybe as a teacher you’ve found a new idea here for warming up your class. And, parents, you can do these at home with your kids too!
If you have any ideas for warm-ups, feel free to leave them in the comments below so other teachers and parents can enjoy them too!
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