Warm Ups

These are tried and true. I have used these warm ups for various ages from Kindy to High School. Some are most clearly more suitable for younger students. You need to just consider your class and then experiment!


This is a good one after kids are familiar with Knife and Fork. In a circle, teacher in the middle. Teacher points at one student and names an object/setting whatnot. That student and the two either side must create that thing immediately. Each taking a different element. With older kids (Year 4 up), I questions each kid. For example if I called out “Rocket” I ask each child what they are….”The fire coming out back”, “A wing”, “the rocket’s body”. I then say “I don’t accept that” if there’s one that is a repeat or just doesn’t work. Encourage kids to not feel bad if you say that to them – it’s a lesson in celebrating a failure. Brush themselves off and continue. Also, it can also mean that the student takes your place – calling out next object and pointing. Good opportunity to try out some directing.

Clump or Die

It may sound morbid, but it’s actually just light hearted fun and always ends in applause for the comic like death. Students move around the space and when a number is called they must clump together with the closest people to them so they have that number of people in the group.  If students can’t find a group they raise their hand, hoping to find others. When it’s clear no more groups of that number can be formed, call out Die. Leftover kids do a wonderful, creative stage death – to the applause of others. They then sit out and game continues. Call it after a couple rounds.

Paper, Scissors, Rock

This is like the traditional game, only bigger and can involve the whole class. I like to play this outside in a defined space. It’s a great one to break up a busy morning on class. Students form to teams and stand in lines facing each other. They need to be around 6 or so metres apart. During a countdown “5-4-3-2-1”, kids for a huddle with their teams and decide whether they will be paper, scissors or rock. By 1 they need to race back tot he line formation. Then the teacher calls “Paper, Scissors, Rock” and all kids move toward the other team one step each word and then show their weapon. Whichever team wins chases the other back to their home base/line. Anyone that gets tagged just goes to the other team. I like this game, as once the kids get it, its easy to run and kids love it. Great for all ages from Grade 1 up.

Knife and Fork

This is a classic Theatresports warm up of which kids younger and older don’t seem to tire. In fact, I did it with a group of adults recently to laughter and great energy. It promotes quick thinking , spontaneous creativity, lateral thinking and team work. You can also use it theme base depending on your lesson, or to break up class room activities.

Begin with Face to Face to mix the kids up and get them moving. Once they are paired up, explain to kids they will create whatever you call out as a pair. If it’s two objects they each take on the role/shape of one, but if it’s one thing they must create it together. I have found it helpful to count down from 10 to 1 to help the kids get moving and know to be silent and still on 1. You then have a look, wait a beat, then call out the next. It’s meant to be fast moving and fun and to get minds and bodies warmed up.

Some ideas: Knife and fork, flower in a vase,  bat and a ball, table and chair, lunchbox, sandpit, photo in a frame, apple in a tree, fish in a bowl, bowl of spaghetti, chicken and an egg, banana, cup and saucer, toothpaste on toothbrush.


Face to Face

This is a great one to get the class working with different people. Quite simply, students find a partner and stand face to face. Then there are 3 commands: face to face, back to back and change (partners).  A useful one to get students randomly in pairs.

Butterflies, Rabbits and Birds

A simple following direction activity you can use quickly to gain attention. Call out one of the animals and students do the corresponding action:

Butterflies; linking thumbs and fluttering hands like a butterfly

Rabbits: both hand up like bunny ears

Birds: flapping arms like wings

Mirror Mime

This is great for Kindy through to older students and can be tweaked for whatever the purpose. Students find a partner and stand face to face about arm length apart.  The teacher plays appropriate music (not necessary but can be helpful) – something that flows and is gentle is good for little ones. Model mirror mime with one happy volunteer. Ask them to mirror all your movements. Move slowly, doing creative simple movements with hands/arms etc. The aim is for the audience to have a difficult time telling who is leading and who is following.

All students have a go, with teacher side coacking. Depending on the theme, this can then move towards doing real life actions.Asking students to mime morning routine, or making a sandwich etc while their mirror copies. This is harder so best to start with free flwing movement first.

All Of Art Must Learn then Take His Ease

A voice warm up also creditted to Bell Shakespeare Workshop. This ones for older kids – possibly only high school, but can be fun to play around with in upper primary.

The idea is that by using your voice in different ways, you can create different characters. So this is a little play, but then may springboard to other ideas….

First have students say “My name is…….”, from their stomaches – model and try.. then, chest….throat……jaw……lips…nose….eyes….forehead.

Some are easier ideas than others. You can model different voices deending on how you proect and ask students what type of charcter could it work for…… lips, nose and throat are good for that.

Then say each word of All of Art Must Learn Then Take His Ease – from a different part of the body.

What’s in the box?

A creative play activity where students pair up and one begins by pretending (miming) thereis box in front of them. They pull out someting and play around with the shape until they have something to give to their partner. They name it and give it. Then the partner takes somehting out of their box etc. A twist is that as one is taking out the ‘shape’ , their partner says a word, colour, letter that will act as a stimulus for the object.  For example as student A pulls out a shape, Student B may say “grey”, Student A ‘plays” with the shape until they shape an elephant……


This is a little difficult for younger kids. Seems so simple on the surface but there’s much concentration and co-ordination involved. Students stand in a circle (Age 10 and up). Teacher points to a student (randomly) and says “You”. The students responds with “Yes”. At that time the teacher begins to move to the student’s spot. While this happens, the students points at another student and says “You”. When they get the reponse of “Yes” they may move to that student’s spot…..and so on. You will find students moving before choosing, forgetting to say “Yes” and walking in the wrong direction. Don’t give up – when they get it it is great!!

Diddly da

I credit the Bell Shakespeare company – this was a warm up that was used in one of their teacher workshops.

A lovely, quick activity to promte rhythm and class unity. Students (Grade 3 up) stand or sit in a circle. Introduce the rhyme:

Diddly da

Diddly da

Diddly diddly diddly da

Then the rhyme is said around the circle, one word at a time with a focus on the rhythm. Teacher starts with Diddly, then a student will say ‘da”….”Diddly” etc. Students needs to listen, remember the rhythm, and know which word to say when it comes to them. Quick but a good way to focus the class……although there may be some giggles.

The Role Circle

Suitable for age 10 up.

This is a lovely activity that involves the whole class, where the teacher can help apprehensive students get involved in a non-threatening way. Students sit in a circle. The teacher stands in the middle of the circle and explains that they are a detective, investigating a partuclar incident that has been reported. The class represent one person. The detective shoots questions, randomly around the circle to build up a story of what may have happened. Students must remember what has been said before – keeping the story straight. An example of how this may go….

Detective: (points to a student) What’s your name?

Student 1: Billy

Detective: (points to another student) Billy who?

Student 2: Billy Crays

Detective: (points to another student) OKay, Billy where you were Friday night?

Student 3: Out with my family.

And so on……obviously the detective tries to lead the students to admit something they may have been involved in – but no one knows what that is at the beginning. Let it evolve! When the class is comforatble with this activity, let students take the role of detective.

Laughter Yoga

I think laughter yoga has a perfect place in the primary classroom. It instantly makes kids feel connected and happy to be in the space. While you may not be able to get students breathing in a deep yoga style, it does make them aware of the their breathing while using their whole body.

The class begins with a chant that is coupled with a clap – “Ho Ho, Ha,Ha,Ha”  (1,2 1,2,3). We then do various exercis

es focused on breathing and actions teamed with laughter.

More information at http://www.lyinstitute.org/zen/ou

What Are You Doing?

A great warm up game kids will want to play over and over. The class sits in a circle. Teacher begins in the centre miming any action. A student walk up and says “Hey, Miss, what are you doing?”. The teacher must respond with any physical action that doesn’t look anything like what they are miming at that moment. The student then does that given action, teacher leaves, and so the circle continues. Prime kids to have ideas in their head so they don’t stumble when they get up there. Can challenge by saying the person walking in must give a letter of the alphabet and then the person must say an action beginning with the letter. You could use themes – sports, animals, occupations etc.

Mime Circle

Students sit in a circle. Each is given a card with an action/task one one side and a coloured sticker on the other. One by one they enter the circle and mime their task as accurately as they can while the rest of the class then guess. This leads to group mimes.

Suggestions for cards:

training a pet

serving a meal


planting seeds in a garden

setting a table

playing tennis

brushing teeth

arranging flowers in a vase

playing a baseball position

searching for water in the dessert

writing a letter, putting it in an envelope, putting a stamp on it

building a Lego model

giving a speeding fine

building a campfire

playing golf

paddling a canoe

walking through a cool steam

packing a suitcase

painting a room

training a pet

paying for groceries at the checkout

changing a flat tyre

washing dishes


wrapping a present

learning to swim

carrying several pieces of luggage

washing a dog

walking a dog

baking a cake

looking for an ear-ring


Students sit in a circle. Teacher goes to centre and calls out something (a book, a tree, a trailer, fire etc) and forms an appropriate shape to show that object.  Students who can think of something that could go with that thing jump in and state what they are and create shape. Then another – who needs to consider the second person’s choice. This completes the three….round of applause, teacher begins a new three.

An extension of this (to really get kids thinking) is to use the same starting object 3 times to allow for different associations.  This shows kids they need to  consider the second offering when thinking of the third possibility.

Hula Hoop Circle

Students form a circle and han hands. Break one link and place a hula hoop  between the kids and then they hold hands again. On your command, the students need to move the hula hoop around the circle by climbing through it and flicking it on – all while still holding hands.

If the kids get a hang of it, break up into two circles and hanve a race. Lots of cheering of support should be encouraged.

Yes Let’s

Standing in a circle, offer a suggestion to the class. “Let’s hop!’ to which the class responds “Yes, Let’s!’. And then they do. Do a couple more adn then have the class make suggestions. It’s a great warm up to build openess in giving anything a go.

Newspaper Islands

You’ll need a newspaper for this one. Spread sheets of newspaper over the classroom floor. About half the amount of students in the class will do. Explain to students that you will play some music and they can move around the space – not touching the newspaper. When the music stops, they are to get on a piece of paper. No part of their foot may be touching the ground. Often they will need to support each other to stay in the game. Have a couple pratice rounds, seeing that the kids keep off the paper until the right time. Then the fun starts: as the kids are moving around, dancing between the sheets take a couple away or tear a couple in half. Each time the music stops there will be fewer sheets so kids have to be quick and creative. Eliminate kids you have any part of their foot touching the ground…….until you have reduced all the paper to one and have a winner!

Truth and Lies

In a circle, students think of 3 things about themselves. They then think of one lie. Teacher models first telling the students (in any order) three truths about themselves and one lie. Students try to guess which one is a lie. Then a few class volunteers have a go.

Who Began?

One student is a detective and is asked to leave the room. One student is then chosen (quietly with a point) to lead the class in various actions, clapping etc.  The detective then enters the room, stands in the middle of the circle and has three guesses to try and work out who is the leader.

Some tips: this is pretty tough for young classes. Seems to be good from Grade 2 up. It;s a good idea to model how to lead by quietly choosing yourself to lead first. Tell the class that they are working together to try to ensure the detective can’t guess who the leader is. they shouldn’t look directly at the leader.

Pass the Clap

Standing in a circle. Students pass a clap to their left, with that person clapping at the same time (to accpet) they then continue to pass it along.  Promotes concentration, focus and co-ordination.

Marko’s Game

I don’t know who Marko is but here goes…..

Kids love this game – around Grade 3 – 5. Students form groups of 5, one group at a time comes up the front and is given a place/event from the teacher (usually on a card and just shown) and then in any order, students step forward and become something that could be in that place/event. They use their body to show the shape and say “I am a….”.  The picture gets built and then the rest of the class tries to guess what they were portraying.  If they seems keen, after each group had had a go, give groups a couple of minutes to come up with their own idea.

Ideas: hospital, playground, museum, zoo, petrol station, garden, beach.

Marko’s Game – Version 2

To develop this further – or challenge kids. Place them into groups of about 5. Give each group a number. Call the group up to the front, with a setting/event. One at a time they step into the space – the first making an offer, then each building from there. In this one they don’t state what they are – just use physical offers.

Fast moving game – the next group number called up – they swap, new thing. Keep rolling them through. This really promotes taking risks, quick thinking, supporting your team mates.

When each team has cycled through a coupe times, on the third, once they have established the tableau, have them bring it to life for a few seconds – dialogue, noises…whatever. Just see what magic happens!


“I Wonder What This Is”

Class in a circle. A piece of fabric is placed in the centre of the circle. The whole class says at the same time, while pointing to the fabric “I wonder what this is”. A student then (you may select from hands up or keep it organic where kids go in when they have an idea) and say “I know what this is!” They enter the circle and interact the fabric to show what it is…..Rapunzel’s hair, a baby, a picnic blanket, tears, a tent etc…..endless ideas.

Younger kids go for more concrete ideas reflective of the fabric, while older may start using abstract ideas. Students love this and really gets the creative juices flowing.

This can then be done again another day (once the students understand it) where  second student also enters, responding to the first.

Just Dance

This may appear like cheating a little, but a great physical warm up, if your classroom a computer hooked up to projector/whiteboard, if to use Just Dance. Kids find their own space. And for 4 minutes warm by following the moves in a Just Dance songs – there are many posted on youtube. All engaged, they need to follow instructions, use coordination and timing. My favourite ones to use are : “What does the Fox Say”, Justin Beiber – “Power”, “Ghostbusters”. The kids LOVE it and it really gets them using their brains/bodies in different ways. (No controls needed – just copy the video).



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