Children are busy people. But when it comes to school they just freeze. They have to sit still for a long time and that’s why they get tired. There is not much of physical stimulation. Of course, there are teachers who teach in a very interactive way, but that doesn’t mean that school isn’t exhausting. Thinking all the time can be draining.
In this blog post, I will list some fun and engaging energizer activities for in the classroom. Students can relax and take an interactive break. It will clear their minds and motivate them to stay focused for the next hour.
When is the right time for an energizer?
For some reason your students aren’t listening anymore. They are not focused and start talking. There are a lot of reasons why students get distracted:
- It is the last hour of the day
- It’s Friday afternoon
- Students get tired after lunch
- It’s Monday morning
- The content is boring (that happens!)
- The content is not relevant to your students (“why should I learn this?”)
- You have been talking for a long time without interaction
- Students are tired or didn’t sleep well
- The room is too hot or too cold
- And many more
If you notice that students are losing attention for one of these reasons, it is time to think about an energizer.
Interactive energizers for students are fun, but teachers also have to take into account that the age difference between students is very important. That is why I selected the best examples of energizers for different ages, however, some of them can be used for any age. Don’t be too quick to assume your students are too old for energizers!
Energizers for Primary school
1. “Prrr” and “pukutu”
This classroom game is more suited for the little kids. Ask everyone to imagine two birds. One named “prrr” and the other named “Pukutu”. If you call out “prrr”, the students need to stand on their toes and move their elbows out sideways. When you call out “Pukutu”, the students have to stay still and may not move. If a student moves, he is disqualified. This student may distract the other students.
Ask the group to stand up and to form a circle. Everyone takes turns saying a number starting with 1, 2, 3 and so on. Of course, there is a catch. At every number with a 4 in it or a multiple of 4, that person needs to say BUZZ instead of the number. The next person just continues the series as normal.
For example: 1 – 2 – 3 – buzz – 5 – 6 – 7 – buzz – 9 – 10 – 11 – buzz – 13 – buzz – 15 – buzz – 17 – …
You can choose any number that might be relevant and replace the buzz with another word. This game is great when teaching the time tables, or teaching how hard it is to do two things at the same time (thinking while listening for your turn).
3. Body letters
Split your class into small groups (4-5 students per group). Each group has to think of an acronym about what they have learned so far. The acronym can’t be longer than the number of people in the group. If there are 4 people in a group, the acronym will only have 4 letters.
When they found an acronym the groups have to use their bodies to spell the letters. Other groups have to discuss what the letters stand for.
Afterwards, you write the words on a paper. You pass them around the classroom and refer to them in the rest of your lesson. With this energizer, you can see what your students remembered and give your students a tool to fall back on.
4. Pink toe
The teacher calls out a colour and a body part. Students must find an object in the room that has that colour and then touch the object with the selected body part. For example, if the teacher calls out “red nose”, students need to find an object that is red and touch it with their nose. The teacher continues calling colours and body parts.
To spice things up, you can add an element of competition to this game. Students that are too slow in completing the task can be asked to sit down. The last remaining student is the winner.
5. Sports gallery
“Sports gallery” is a very intensive example of an energizer. The teacher calls out different sports skills. The students have to mimic them for at least 10 seconds. After a while the teacher speeds up the tempo. A few sports skills the teacher can call out:
- Shooting a jump shot
- Juggling a soccer ball
- Dancing like a ballerina
- Batting a baseball
- Swinging a golf club
- Downhill skiing
- Serving a tennis ball
- Shooting an arrow
Energizers for Highschool
6. Lie to me
This energizer is a fun way to get to know your students better. Not just the basics, like where they live or if they have a brother, but real stories and anecdotes.
The students have to tell 3 facts about their life. Something that happened to them. Two of them should be true, and one should be a lie. The other students have to find out which one is the lie. You’ll be surprised what kind of crazy things can actually happen! (Or how good your students can lie!)
7. Keyword music roulette
The teacher makes cards with a keyword on it. The keywords refer to the lesson (you can also use the ‘Randomness widget’ from BookWidgets instead of cards). The students go sit in small groups with a tablet or a computer. You, or one of your students, picks a card. The groups have to find a song title that mentions the keyword. The group that finds it first, may play their song on the iPad.
This energizer connects keywords to songs. Students will remember your lesson every time they hear the song or they will remember your keywords by thinking back about that song.
8. Get on that chair
For this classroom game, students need to be flexible and balanced. For every student, the teacher places a chair. All the chairs should be lined up in a single line. Every student has to stand on a chair. Then, the teacher asks them to go stand in a certain order. For example: “I want you to organize yourselves from young to old.” The students now have to change places without touching the ground.
With this energizer, the students get to know each other better in an interactive way. The teacher can give other orders like: “from tall to small.” or “from A to Z.” Every time the students have to change their positions without pushing someone off the chairs. If you want to make it more challenging, you can set a time limit.
9. Blind artist
One of my favorite games for students is definitely this one! Have your students form pairs. The students can’t see each other. One student gets a drawing you have prepared earlier. Ideally, the drawing should be something relevant to what you are teaching.
The student holding the drawing needs to give good instructions to the other student. The other students needs to draw it without being able to see the original picture. If you want to spice up the classroom game, you can put a variety of conditions to it. For example: no asking questions, must draw with your non writing hand etc. Aren’t you curious about the results?
When you use this energizer as a revision activity, you let the pair explain to the rest of the class what the drawing is about.
Divide your students into four groups. Use four blank jigsaw puzzles, available in arts and craft stores, and ask the groups to fill in the puzzle with something they learned today. (Drawing, quote, wordcloud, etc.)
Afterwards, as a revision and energizer, you can let the students solve eachother’s jigsaw puzzle. You can also design the puzzles yourself and let the students make them. That will take less time. Another option is to use a photo and make a jigsaw puzzle with BookWidgets.
Energizers for adult students
Even adults need to be encouraged from time to time. College or University students don’t take breaks that often. That makes it harder to focus sometimes. If you think they’ll dislike energizers for adults, you’re wrong. Small classrooms work better though, but energizers in the classroom always shake things up!
11. Likeable Lucie
Students think of an adjective to describe themselves. The adjective must suit the student and must also start with the first letter of their name.
The students have to memorize every name. The first student just says his name, but the second and the rest of the students have to name the previous names before saying their name. The last students will have to do the hard work.
For example: 1. Likeable Lucie – 2. Likeable Lucie and Precious Petra – 3. Likeable Lucie, Precious Petra and Tiny Tom
12. Don’t answer
Ask the students to stand in a circle. One student starts by going up to someone else. The student asks the other student a question. For example: “What is your most annoying habit?” However, that person may not answer the question, but the person on his left must answer. The answer doesn’t have to be right. Students can make their answers as imaginative as possible. Fun guaranteed!
13. Give a compliment
No one’s tool old for compliments! This energizer lets students feel better about themselves by sharing compliments. Each student gets a paper on their back. Every student has to write down a compliment on the paper on the backs of every other student. They cannot miss a single one. Afterwards the students can read their paper and all the compliments they have been given.
Students have to count from 1 to 20. There is one rule though: there is no particular order. Students have to yell the consecutive number whenever they want. But when two students yell a number at the same time, you have to start counting from 1 again. Wonder how long it will take until you reach 20?
15. Be unique
This classroom game is about being unique and about getting to know each other better. Everyone stands in a circle. Every student has to say something unique about themselves. For example: “I have four brothers.” If another student also has four brothers, the students who shared the ‘not-so-unique’ aspect has to sit down. The goal is to stand as long as possible and therefore to share very special things about yourself that no one else typifies.
If these 15 examples of energizers aren’t enough, you should definitely take a look at this website and this slideshow about energizers for schools. I’m sure you will find some inspiration there. You can also take a look at these 5 fun back-to-school icebreakers for the first school day.