This warmer is good for quick thinking and practising vocabulary, modals, passive/active, argumentative sentences, etc.


The idea came to me a few weeks ago whilst teaching a group of teenagers. It worked really well; the students enjoyed it and used a lot of English too! I hope you like it!

  1. You will need: egg timers, four pieces of blank paper per student and a bag or box.
  2. This activity works better in small groups of 3-5 students, so everybody has more chance to speak.
  3. As I like using the floor a lot, we all sat outside on the grass for this activity. It worked really well.


  • Start by talking about unusual presents that you have been given for Christmas, birthday, etc such as a lawn mower for your birthday. If you can't think of anything, make it up.
  • Tell the students things like 'Only somebody who didn't know me would give me such a present' or 'She/he must really dislike/like me to give me a present like this', etc. This will focus their minds on the subject and they'll start thinking and remembering presents that they have given or been given themselves.
  • When they are curious enough and want to share their 'experiences', give students four pieces of paper and ask them to write one of the following on each piece:

    1. a present that you would give to someone you love
    2. a present that you would give to someone you hate/dislike
    3. a present that you would love to be given
    4. a present that you would hate to be given

    It would be better if students didn't share their ideas at this stage, they should only write them down.
  • When they have finished, ask them to fold up the four pieces of paper and go round collecting them and putting them in a bag (a Christmas box or stocking).
  • You should now demonstrate the activity by picking a 'present' out of the bag, reading it out and deciding on the person you're going to give it to.
  • For example: 'Anna, I want to give you a 'trip to the moon' '. The student can then accept or refuse the present. (If you want to practise some 'set' sentences for accepting/refusing, you should set them beforehand - otherwise let it run freely).
  • If the student refuses, you turn the egg timer and have one minute to convince her, using all the arguments that you can possibly think of. If you manage to do so, you keep the paper containing the 'present', which counts as a point; otherwise the present goes back in the box.
  • Each student in the group takes it in turns to get a present out of the bag, choose somebody to give the present to and convince them to accept it.
  • Let the activity flow until there are no more presents left.
  • After a while, some of my students started not to accept some presents because they wanted to be convinced. They really enjoyed this activity and asked if we could do it again another time!


  1. You can add other categories of presents, such as 'a present that you'd buy for an old person', 'for your teacher', 'for your mother/boyfriend', etc.
  2. It can also be more fun if everybody, not only the student who gives the present, tries to convince the other student to accept the present. This way, students can become more competitive and will start thinking harder. The point then goes to the person who manages to do so.
  3. You can also vary the point system as you wish.