This warmer is adapted from a Russian TV game show called 'Pyramid', and is a very effective way of revising vocabulary.


  • All you need is some paper, a pen and a stopwatch (or the second hand of a watch).
  • Divide the class into teams of two contestants. The object of the game is for these contestants to describe seven words from a vocabulary category to their partner within a time-limit. The category could be anything; for example, for my latest game of Pyramid I chose, amongst others, the following: things you can make, the cinema, items found in a woman's bag and things that can be broken.
  • Players take it in turns to choose a category, and the teacher gives the player the seven words which he must describe to his partner in English. He is given thirty seconds to do this, and gets a point for each word his partner guesses within this time limit. Depending on the size of the group, give each player a couple of turns at describing words, then add the scores of the pairs to find out which is the winner.
  • The rules are fairly simple: no root words (e.g. if the word is headache, no using the word head or ache) and descriptions only in English. The game also tends to work better without excessive use of gesture!
  • This is a warmer pretty suitable to any level; with lower levels categories like cinema can be used to check simple vocabulary (popcorn, seat, ticket etc.), but with higher levels you can use the game to look at collocations. For example, in the category things that can be broken I've chosen washing machine, heart, rule, lift, habit, stereotype and record; similarly, there are many diverse things which you can make in English!