August 23, 2012

Affective warm ups and wrap ups for young learners

As soon as I started my career as an English teacher at Seven, I fell in love with warm ups and wrap ups. My passion was so big that I created a list with over 100 warm ups that I had in my locker for everybody to see, which led for my peers to call me the Warm up man! As old habits die hard, I'm here writing this post about this very important part of a language class.

A warm up is a very important part of class because it gradually sets the mood to engage students in learning. Students have arrived thinking about their last activity and the warm up gracefully puts all students and the teacher in the same wave lenght. The warm up also gets the student's language schemas activated to connect with previous classes and with what is about to happen.

A wrap up, on the other hand, is an activity that can be used to celebrate the fact that the group is together and to prepare students to leave the classroom in a relaxed stated with the desire of having more of it. In Portuguese we say "gostinho de quero mais".

Both warm up and wrap up might be taken for granted in busy schedules and if they are skipped both students and teacher feel it, just as when we arrive late or leave early in an aerobics class. Ouch, it hurts! Not a clever thing to do!

Most activities that I will present here can be done as either warm up or wrap up. I have many times opened and closed classes with the same activity, specially when students really enjoyed it. There isn't a rule of thumb, but I believe the following aspects should be present in a good warm up/wrap up:

They should last between 3 and 5 minutes, so that they are assertive to their goal of preparing students for the transition of entering or leaving the class. Instructions should be very brief and clear to achieve this goal.

Warm ups and wrap ups  should always be success-oriented, as this is the feeling we want students to have in the beginning and end of a class. This feeling will make them more comfortable in trying new structures and taking risks. If by any chance a student is having a hard time, the activity should be immediately adapted, as this student can exposed in front of the group and have the opposite feeling of failure.

A productive warm up/wrap up should always be connected to your language objectives and involve relevant language. Students are to be challenged to work in their zone of acquired competence, which we could call i, i-1, i-2, being i+1 the zone of proximal development. An activity working in the i-20 zone patronizes students and is disrespectful. Needless to say that warm ups and wrap ups should never be done for the sake of just doing them or filling time.

A good warm up/wrap up is lighthearted, challenging, creative, and fun. One can see that the comfort goal is being reached by listening to their laughter and seeing the brightness of their eyes. These are the moments that some students will always remember when thinking about their courses.

I have curated a pinterest list with more than 125 warm ups and wrap ups and their explanations for you to use with your students. It is my honor to share it here with you:

Send you all a big frug!

Juan (a.k.a. The Warm up Man!)

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  1. Replies
    1. Happy you enjoyed it!
      Wish you great affective classes!



  2. Hello and thank you for the interesting ideas you are sharing with us here. I am going through the warm ups list on Pinterest at the moment. The bubble wrap activity looks interesting. Have you got any suggestions on how we could it in a class of young learners? I am interested mostly in my 3rd and 4th graders, that is, 8-10 y.o. Not that the other classes wouldn't enjoy it... I was thinking: should I have a sheet of bubble wrap for each child? perhaps do it in groups? It cannot be a whole class activity, meaning one sheet for the whole class. On the other hand, I want it to be useful and meaningful, not just fun popping the bubbles :-)) Liana Kokkaliari, Greece


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