5 Mind Stretching Activities to Warm Up for Lessons

70% of teaching success, it is said, occurs in the first 15 minutes of class. If a student comes in braced and “in the zone”, even the toughest subject are easy to digest. However, this is easier said than done. Most students are quite distracted when class starts, so are here some activities to help:


  1. 1.    Lateral Thinking Exercises

The teacher picks a random object, which can be physical (a sock) or even imaginary (a time machine). Next, the student(s) get a sheet of paper, and the teacher prepares a stopwatch.

Over the course of the next two minutes, students are to write down as many possible uses for the object as they can imagine. For example, if the object is a sock, the possible uses are:

  • Keeping a hand warm
  • A mitt to pick up hot plates
  • A container for coins
  • Tie it to a stick and detect the direction of the wind

And so forth. This is a competitive process – the student with the most legitimate reasons within two minutes wins. If there are no other students, the teacher will compete with the student.

This activity develops lateral thinking skills, and is great before lessons that require creative thinking (e.g. composition and responsive writing, art, problem solving in mathematics)


  1. 2.    Torrance Tests

The teacher hands each student a sheet of paper, which is blank except for a single line or squiggle. The student must then complete a drawing, which incorporates the squiggle in it.

The teacher then asks a series of questions about the drawing, such as:

  • Who or what is in it?
  • Where is it taking place?
  • How did the situation in the drawing begin?
  • How is the situation likely to end?

And so forth. After that, if there is time, the student can write the story in the drawing.

This exercise is an excellent prelude to creative writing, and also to any language lesson (due to the way students must articulate their thoughts).


  1. 3.    Alertness Riddles

These are riddles that prime students’ listening and comprehension skills. The following is a classic example, which is used in many real job interviews:

Mary’s mother had three daughters. The first daughter was named May, the second daughter was named June. What was the third daughter’s name?

The question should not be repeated – it is up to students to pay close attention when the teacher asks.

(In the above example, the answer is Mary. Because it’s “Mary’s mother”.)

For more such riddles, like us on Facebook. We’ll update you when we produce a list of them!

Besides priming students, these riddles encourage rational inference and creative thinking. This exercise is great for language subjects and sciences.


  1. 4.    Concentration Building

The teacher presents a list that is printed in colour, such as the following:

  • Blue
  • Green
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Brown
  • Red
  • Purple
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Purple

Note that he colours should not always match the describing word. There should be about 25 entries on the list.

Next, the teacher gets a stopwatch.

The student is to recite the colour of each word, and not the word itself. In the above example, the word purple should be called out as “red” by the student.

Over the course of 15 seconds, the student must try to call out all 25 colours correctly. This can be turned into a game – it is played each time before the lesson, with a reward for when the student finally gets it right.

This activity is an intense concentration exercise. It builds the student’s general ability to focus and filter out distractions. However, this should not be done more than two to three times before the lesson, as it may tire the student.


  1. 5.    Alliteration Exercise

In this activity, the teacher presents a list of objects, or the actual objects themselves. As each object is presented to the student, the student must devise a sentence for it.

The sentence must include at least one object, one verb, one adverb, and one realistic name. The object, verb, adverb, and name must be alliterative.

For example, if the object is a tree, the sentence could be:

Timothy climbed the Towering Tree.

If the object is a pigeon, the sentence could be:

Paula painstakingly plucked the pigeon for dinner.

There should be a time limit to completing each list of objects, with an allowance of about three minutes per object.

This exercise builds a student’s vocabulary, and pushes them to remember words they do not often use. It also pushes them to name characters, instead of using generic terms such as “my brother” or “my friend”.

Remember, each child learns in a different way. At LiteTutors, we believe that lessons must be individually catered to your child to be effective. Do contact us to get the best tutor for your children.


Tommy WongRennett Stowejqmj (Queralt)