These three warmers were created by taking parts of diifferent activities and switching them around to create new activities.

I am a full-time English instructor at National Chiayi University in Taiwan. To make my classes more interesting, I like to cannibalize. No, I don't team-teach with Anthony Hopkins.

Cannibalizing is an idea that comes from The Recipe Book, an excellent Pilgrim's resource book edited by Seth Linstromberg. In the first section of the book, Tessa Woodward suggests cannibalizing language learning exercises. By this she means taking parts of different activities and switching them around to create new activities. These three warmers were created using this idea on some familiar language learning activities.

Art gallery


  • blackboard
  • lots of chalk/pens of different colors
  • 4 erasers
  • (wine and cheese optional)


10 - 15 minutes


  • Draw 4 large rectangles on the board, giving each one a 'frame'.
  • Call on one student to come to the board, and tell him he has 60 seconds to draw a picture of your head in the first frame. Time him, and make sure he stops after 60 seconds. Then ask him to choose another student to draw a picture of him in in the second frame in only 30 seconds. Then this second student gets a third student to draw her, 15 seconds. Then, finally, the third student finds a fourth student to draw him in five seconds. Have all four students sit down.
  • Now, call on four different students to come to the board and stand in front of the four pictures, keeping their hands at their sides. Tell them that they can draw or erase any part of the picture in front of them but they will only have 5 seconds. Tell them 'GO!' When the five seconds are up, you will shout 'STOP!' and each student must move to the right, and the student at the right end, must move to the left side of the line.
    Repeat about 9-10 times, then have everyone sit down.
  • Finally, get everyone up to the front of the board. Tell them they are at an opening night of an art gallery. They should walk around, mingle, and discuss the works of art in the gallery.

Sounds like good advice


  • blackboard
  • chalk
  • sound effects CD
  • slips of paper
  • pens


15 - 20 minutes

  • Ask your students how they get advice when they have a problem. Write some of their ideas up on the board. Then pass out some slips of paper. Get each student to write three problems they have in the form of questions:
      1. How can I save money?
      2. How can I get along better with my roommate?
      3. How can I lose weight?
  • Give them some time to write, make sure they write their names, then pick up the papers.
  • Tell them you are going to introduce a novel way to find solutions to problems. You are going to play a sound effect, and they are going to create a solution for another student's problem using the sound. (Example: the sound of a dog barking for the question "How can I make new friends?" might make one student write "Go to a dog show and ask a lot of questions." while another student might suggest "Get a pet dog and take him for a walk in the park to meet new people.")
  • Pass out the slips, and check that everyone has someone else's paper. Then play a sound effect, repeat it, give students time to write an answer, and repeat the procedure two more times with two different sound effects.
  • When you are finished, let the students return their paper to the original author. Ask a few students to share the advice they received with the class.
  • Notes: 1. You might want to demonstrate the technique so they understand what they should be doing. 2. It's more interesting to choose the sound effects randomly.


Students can write out questions they want to ask a fortune teller.

Extra resources

Download sound effects:

More free downloadable sound effects:

Dictating labels


  • 10 post-it notes for each student
  • small reward


First class - 5 minutes, second class - 10 minutes

  • At the end of class one week, teach your students the names of 10 things around the classroom. For beginners, you might stick to simple vocabulary such as desk and window. For intermediate and advanced learners, teach them electrical outlet or smudge.
  • At the beginning of the next class period, give each student 10 post-it notes. Dictate 10 of the words you taught them the week before. Students should write each word or phrase on a separate post-it note. Then tell them they have to go around the room and put the post-it notes in the right places. When they are finished, they should come to tell you, and the first one finished will get a small prize. (notes: don't teach them words for anything you think might not be in the classroom during the next class period. Also, don't teach them words for things they can't reach!) Variation: you could also dictate parts of the body, colors, shapes, adjectives...