Six Ways to Kick-Off Class (as Students Walk In!)

"Opening Sponge,” “Challenge of the Day,” “Daily Warm-Up”... How do you engage students as they enter the room? Do you have an activity on the board or a routine of expectations? Perhaps students get out their homework, or maybe they copy some information into their notebooks. Eager to try something new to immediately engage students? Consider kicking off class with one of the following attention-grabbing activities.

Text Your Response

Embrace the presence of the smartphone by asking students to participate in a texting poll as they enter the room through Poll Everywhere or Kahoot . Ask them a question about last night’s reading, gauge their confidence of the previous evening’s homework, or kick off a class discussion on yesterday’s current events! Questions can be multiple-choice to guide discussion or open-ended to broach sensitive topics. As the (anonymous) results roll in, students can watch the live updates and discuss the outcomes.

  Students text in their answer to the question on the screen

A Google a Day

In a world with knowledge at our fingertips, here is an activity that brings critical thinking into our Google Search! Students must find answers to daily questions, such as, “What is another name for the hourly time signal or GTS first broadcast by the RGO in 1924?” Searchers are scored based on the amount of time this takes them and encourages them to analyze what the question is really asking (a valuable test-taking skill). This activity can be done in pairs, groups, or individually.

Brainstorm Groups for a Breakout Activity

As students walk into the room, stand at the whiteboard and ask them for “groups of four.” One student might offer the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the four math teachers at your school,  or four vegetables she dislikes. Write these foursomes up on the board, and keep soliciting students for contributions until all are seated. Then, choose one foursome, and use it to break students into four groups: Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael! You’ll immediately grab their attention and launch class into the subsequent group activity.

Caption the Photo

Want to get students’ creative juices flowing? Project an image, whether it’s a famous painting that they’ve likely seen before, a funny meme, or an image of a concept you’ll be teaching today. Ask students to caption the photo! To make it more challenging, add a Twitter-esque character limit, employ a timer, or require rhyming. Then, ask students to share their captions. (Pro Tip: This is ready-made bulletin board decoration for your classroom!)

It’s the night before finals and I just ran out of Mountain Dew!

Brain-Teasers, Mind-Benders, and Head-Scratchers

Take two minutes and stump your students with a pictogram “ Rebus Puzzle ,” or consider giving them the longstanding logic puzzle! Grid/logic puzzles  can span younger students to older grades, and I often spotted my students working on these long after class was over. Read students a mini-mystery  and solve it together as a class; challenge students to write their own mystery that you’ll attempt to solve!

top secret.gif “Top Secret”...Get it?


Consider making this popular board game  a part of your classroom warm-up! Put a strange word up on the board, such as “ widdershins ” or “ galactophagist ,” and have students contribute their most academic definition for its meaning. Once students begin writing convincing definitions, sneak the word’s real meaning into the mix! Consider using this activity to dynamically introduce new science or foreign language vocabulary.


Do you have other creative classroom openers? Share them with us in the comments below!


In March 2021, Kailey Rhodes joined our extended network of alumni.