ESL Warmers for Kids

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Warmers! Warmers! ESL Warmers!

This page is for teachers who are looking for fast, five-minute warmers for ESL kids' classes. I hope you find some lovely warmers ideas for your classes here. Every ESL lesson for kids should ideally start with a warmer. ESL warmers for kids are designed to welcome the child to the English classroom and get their mind ready for the hour of English learning ahead. ESL warmers for kids provide an easy and no-stress context for the children to start thinking in English and to prepare their mind for learning new English words and phrases in the class. This page contains many ESL warmer ideas for young learner classes and will give TEFL teachers some quality TEFL warmer ideas for children.

Got a favourite warmer not listed? Send it over on our contact page and we'll add it to our list and credit you for it!

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Kids Warmer: Stand up, Sit down

This is a simple warmer where the kids either stand up or sit down to answer questions. Kids take turns to be the person asking the questions. Excellent practice for speaking, listening and will get your class moving and engaged.



This is a nice warmer, which can be used for any class regardless of age or English level, simply change the content to make it age or level appropriate. In a nutshell, you'll be giving a piece of paper to each student with a colour, shape, word, whatever, and have to walk around the class looking for the student whose paper matches their own.

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Power Flower

A nice low-energy warmer for kids classes if you want to ease nicely into your class without too much madness early on. This is a pair or small team warmer, where the kids can use their text book or mini-dictionary to help them.

Students need to make as many words as they can in five-minutes from the letters written on the flower.

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Spot the Difference

All English teachers reading this right now would have played a Spot the Difference game, probably on a rainy Sunday afternoon or a long car journey somewhere as a kid, you know, where you look closely at two similar pictures, trying to find six small differences. Well actually, playing Spot the Difference in your ESL classroom is an excellent activity or warmer to practice language!

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Mysterious Bag

This is a lovely little ESL warmer for kids which will immediately pique their interest in your class. It will get their sensory juices flowing and is particularly useful as a warmer if you've been teaching classroom objects, household items, fruits and vegetables, animals, shapes, toys, all common topics in young learner English textbooks. 


Memory of a Goldfish

This is a devilishly simple warmer, which will get all of your students involved from the get go! This ESL warmer for kids will test their vocabulary skills, their recall ability and, most importantly, their ability to remember what the other kids in the class have said before them.

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Cleopatra's Hieroglyph Codes

This activity can be used either as a warmer or an activity if you find that you have a few more unexpected minutes at the end of your class, but have finished your lesson plan. 

In a nutshell, you'll be writing out the letters of a secret message on the board using pictures for your students to work out. This secret message is your name.

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Who am I?

An ideal warmer / icebreaker for classes early on in the school term, 'Who Am I?' allows students to learn more about each other, as well as getting to know each other's names, an important component to getting your class bonded, having a close learning environment and for building closer student relationships.

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An Alternative to Hangman

Shark fin is getting nearer! As a new English teacher coming to China for the first time, I decided to play Hangman in my primary school class as a warmer. It was clear that the kids in China had never played this game and they were excited. But as I drew more and more, they slowly realised what I was drawing and it dawned on me that it was actually pretty gruesome and perhaps unsuitable for young learner classes. This is an alternative to Hangman, kid friendly.

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Drill Sergeant

Drill Sergeant is a superb ESL warmer for children and teens, particularly if you've been teaching imperatives i.e. ‘sit down’, ‘stand up’, ‘turn around’, ‘touch your nose’, etc. This ESL kids warmer will make your ESL students use the target language well and have to think quickly in English.