Start the lesson with a bang!
What students experience in the first couple of minutes of a lesson makes a crucial difference in how well they engage with the learning intentions and as such, starter activites should be exciting, enthusing and unpredictable.
Here are some ideas for creating that ‘hook’ and maintaining the curiosity of students from the get-go.
- Start the lesson with a fun or even explosive demonstration which ties in to the main body of the lesson. Sick Science has lots of great ideas.
- Pass around mystery objects inside sealed bags. Ask the students to guess what they are and what they do.
- Display apparatus, interesting objects and photographs around the room.
- Play a short video on a loop and hand out questions about its content. This is even better if it is a video that you or the students have made. For example, a time-lapse video to recap the previous lesson or the steps of a practical investigation presented in Adobe Voice.
- Write a true / false question or a statement on the board. As pupils arrive ask them to choose whether they think it is ‘true’ or ‘false’ or whether they ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ and to stand to one side or another of an imaginary line down the middle of the room.
- Display a picture and a question. Alternatively, you can display a number of different pictures related to a theme and simply ask ‘What have I Googled?’
- Play ‘Backs to the Board.’ Divide your students into two or three teams. One volunteer from each team sits in a chair with their backs to the board, facing their friends. Write a key word on the board, making sure that the players in the ‘hot seats’ can not see it. After you say ‘Go!’, the members of each team must try to elicit the word from the volunteer without saying the word or giving any clues as to its spelling. The players in the ‘hot seats’ then swap with another member of their respective teams.
- Arrange for a guest speaker to be standing in the room as the students arrive.
- Recap the last lesson by displaying true / false statements or multiple choice questions and asking students to answer on mini whiteboards.
- Use Socrative or Kahoot to prepare a fun quiz or questionnaire.
- Play a song relating to the lesson as the students arrive.
- Display multiple choice questions around the room. Give the students a time limit (these classroom timers are fun) and get them to move around the room looking for and answering the questions.
- Set up apparatus for the lesson and display one or more questions about what it might be for and how it works. Alternatively, hide the appartus under a cloth and, before revealing it, ask questions about what it might be.
- When they arrive, hand each student or pair of students a mystery object and ask them to come up with ideas about what it might be used for.
- Greet the students at the classroom door wearing full protective equipment including visor or goggles.
- Hand each student a question or an answer to a question and ask them to find their pair.
- Play the ‘Who Am I?’ game but instead of a famous person designate each student a key word relating to the current topic. Remember, participants can only use ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ questions to work out who or what they are.
No matter how you start the lesson try to involve the students whenever you can and make sure it does not go on for too long. Link the activity to the main body of the lesson and allow time for questions and answers. Have fun!