Change the pace of your lessons in 5 minutes

When writing lesson plans, we need to consider a lot of things such as objectives, needs of our students and materials. Read YesimKilic's post below.

In addition to these key elements, a well-staged lesson plan needs to include warmers to bring students into the topic and fillers in case you find yourself a few minute short at the end of the lesson. So, this post is for the teachers who need 5-minute activities to integrate into their lesson plans.

1. Imaginary Map

This speaking game works brilliantly as an ice-breaker and engages students on their first day at school. It can also be used at any point in the lesson to energize students. It is suitable for all levels and no preparation is needed.


  • Tell your students to stand up and push their desks to the wall so that they have enough space to move freely.
  • Tell them there is an imaginary map of the country you live or the world (if you have a multinational classroom) on the floor.
  • Start the activity yourself by standing on the city/country where you are from and indicate cardinal directions so that students can locate their hometown on this imaginary map. You can say: “I am standing in the middle of the map, this is north and this is south” etc.
  • When all students stand on the imaginary map, have them talk to the people near them and ask each other where they are from, (or guess it based on where they stand). Encourage them to ask each other a few things about their city/country like “What is your favourite activity in your hometown?”.
  • When they go back to their seats, they can share what they have learnt about their friends with the whole class: “This is Pedro and he is from Brazil. He really misses his hometown” or “Gabriella is from Barcelona. It is famous for its stunning architecture.”

2. Q & A

This activity is suitable for intermediate learners who have just learnt the Second Conditional. However, there is a variation below which suits all levels. The activity starts with a short writing task, which can be followed by a discussion.


  • Start the game by asking your students a hypothetical question using the Second Conditional such as “If you were a food, what food would you be?” Or “If you could live anywhere, where would it be?”
  • Have students write down their hypothetical question on a piece of paper.
  • Students fold up their papers and put them in a box or a hat. Then, they pick one question from the box and write an answer on it.
  • Finally, all the questions and their answers can be displayed on the wall. Students can walk around and find the answer for their question.
  • As a follow-up, teacher can address problems by writing some errors on the board (if there are any) and going over them as a whole class.

A variation: Instead of hypothetical questions, I also have students write get-to-know-you questions and I encourage them to write them as interesting as possible such as “Who is your hero?” or “What makes you laugh most?” and follow the same procedure. You can break the ice and enjoy a learner-centered 5-minute activity.

3. Wrinkled Ideas

This one can be used as a pre-listening or pre-reading activity that works for all levels.


 Write the main idea of the text or a sentence from the text on any A4 paper and wrinkle it.


  • Before reading the text, make groups of 4-5 and assign a wrinkled paper to each group.
  • Tell the students to try to read what is written on the paper without using their hands or arms. They end up using their head to move the paper in order to figure out what is written on it, which really gives them a laugh.
  • As students read a word or phrase, they go back to their own group and share what they read with the others to form the sentence meaningfully.
  • Elicit the sentence from the students and start a class discussion based on it.

4. Tick-tock

We usually give students topics to discuss in pairs or groups at the beginning of our classes, which is usually a rather dry lead-in. Tick-tock will turn this stage into a competitive and enjoyable game for fluency. It is a low-prep warmer that can be used in any class. You can either make a list of topics that will engage your students or choose topics according to the material you are going to cover. It is suitable for intermediate level.


  • Ask students to get in pairs and tell them to talk about a topic for 1 minute. Pairs take turns to speak about it.
  • Then, each speaker changes their seats with the other student sitting next to them in clockwise so that they will interact with another student in the class.
  • At the second round, the speakers talk about the same topic to their new partners in 30 minute.
  • At the third round, the speakers again change their seats and they have only 5 seconds to speak. Being limited to 5 seconds to summarize all their ideas really excites them.


There is a common perception that all learning should be serious and solemn in nature, and that if one is having fun and there is hilarity and laughter, then it is not really learning. This is a misconception. It is possible to learn a language as well as enjoy oneself at the same time.”

The above quote is taken from Lee Su Kim’s 1995 work, “Creative Games for the Class”. The activities I have shared here will provide language practice in various skills and increase enjoyment at the same time. Please share your feedback on these activities and ideas to engage and motivate your students by writing a comment below.

Yesim Kilic

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