Warmers - tick and tag

Other warmers I use have their basis in playground games - they help develop motor skills, keep students healthy, encourage teamwork…plus it detaches children from computers, televisions, smart phones! If you work in an academy, it might be a good idea to describe these as ‘interesting activities’ or ‘a different way to learn grammar’ and to make it clear why you’re doing the activity. This will avoid the situation of parents complaining that they haven't paid good money just for their students to ‘play games’ - especially as nowadays as lots of exams are high stakes.

The ones I use the most are variations of ‘tick’ (UK) or ‘tag (US) and are probably my favourite warmers - they are easy to explain, quick, fun and there are no losers. 

Version I

Put the class into pairs. One person is ‘it’ and has to tag his/her partner who then becomes ‘it’. There are just two rules: you can only walk,  and once you have been tagged, you have to turn 360° on the spot - remember to focus on the word "walk" rather than saying “Don’t run” as what happens is that the only word the students will hear is run. I only play this for a maximum of 2 minutes.

Version II

With all my activities I always give them a context/framing rather than just play for the sake of playing. The one I use for this is that I tell the students is that I was watching Liverpool football club training and it was an exercise they used to increase awareness about people around them.

Everyone is a 'ticker'  and when I say 'Go' everybody starts to tick someone else, if you get ticked then you sit down. The last person standing (ie unticked)is the winner.

Version III - Stuck in the mud

This time you have a group of tickers 3 or 4 for a group of 30 students and the aim of the activity is for them to tick the rest of the class. This time when you're ticked, you're 'stuck in the mud' you open your legs and raise your arms to form a star shape, the rest of your classmates try to free you. You can vary the way that you are freed - the most difficult (but funniest way is to crawl between their legs) or you can duck under their raised arms. You can also get them to say a word/phrase connected to what you’ve been doing in class - eg. verbs in the simple past / colours / body parts / number / farm animal. Here's a group of British school children playing the game.


To finish off, I ask the students how the tickers could have been more successful and  eventually someone will suggest that the tickers should've worked as a group. The message that you're sending to the class it that they will be more successful if they work together and help each other rather than working alone.