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Fun Ways to Start a Lesson: Ideas for Elementary Teachers in 2022

If you are looking for fun ways to start a lesson in your elementary classroom, then you found the right place! In this post, I share tons of information about do now activities, also known as bell ringers, and offer specific examples of how to implement them in your classroom. Do nows are a great tool for smoothing your transitions and getting students thinking about and preparing for the upcoming lesson. Read below to learn more about do nows, their benefits to both teachers and students, specific examples, and helpful tips.

Learn what bell ringers are and why first, second, third, fourth, and fifth classroom teachers should use them as lesson starters, opener activities, and morning work. This Clutter-Free Classroom blog post offers tons of ideas for elementary teachers. Check it out now! #bellringers #donows #elementaryclassroom

What is a Do Now Activity?

A do now activity is a teaching strategy that takes place in the first 3-10 minutes of class. Do nows are warm-up learning activities that allow students to work independently while they connect prior learning and new learning. They are highly effective because they promote independence, motivation, productivity, engagement, and an appropriate mindset at the very beginning of the content area. They are also a great classroom management tool, because students learn and carry out the routine, which maximizes learning time.

What is a Bell Ringer in Education?

Bell ringers are often used synonymously with do nows. The only difference between the two is that students know the end of a bell ringer has come when the teacher rings the bell.

Why Should I Use Do Nows or Bell Ringers in My Classroom?

There are a number of benefits to starting lessons consistently with a do now or bell ringer for both the student and the teacher.

Benefits for the Students

  • Know what is expected of them because of the set routine.
  • Get in the appropriate mindset for the lesson.
  • Sets him or her up for success during the lesson.
  • Offers them the opportunity to be independent.
  • Gives them the opportunity to engage in a task they feel successful in and confident about.

Benefits for the Teacher

  • Gives the teacher time to work with students one-on-one or in a small group.
  • Allows the teacher to pull students for an assessment.
  • Provides an opportunity for the teacher to connect with individuals with special needs.
  • Serves as a classroom management strategy for the teacher because it increases student engagement, creates a smooth transition, and promotes a learning environment where all students are expected to learn and engage.

Examples of Do Nows

Below are examples of do nows, which are fun ways to start a lesson, that you can use in your classroom.

8 Math Do Now Examples

Below are some examples of math do now activities.

1. Number Tracing

Ask students to trace the numbers on the page with their finger, eraser, and then pencil.

2. Number of the Day Activity

Invite students to do a number of the day activity.

1st grade number of the day worksheets2nd grade number of the day worksheets3rd grade number of the day worksheets
4th grade number of the day worksheets5th grade number of the day worksheetsElementary Math Resource Collection

3. Problem of the Day

Offer a problem of the day where students need to apply their problem solving skills.

Word Problem of the Day
1st grade word problem of the day2nd grade word problem of the day3rd grade word problem of the day
4th grade word problem of the day5th grade word problem of the dayElementary Math Resource Collection
Open Ended Problem of the Day
1st grade open ended math question word problem worksheets2nd grade open ended math question word problem worksheets3rd grade open ended math question word problem worksheetsElementary Math Resource Collection

4. Vocabulary Match

Ask students to do a worksheet where they read the vocabulary words and match them to the definitions.

1st grade math vocabulary word wall cards activities and games2nd grade math vocabulary word wall cards activities and games3rd grade math vocabulary word wall cards activities and games
4th grade math vocabulary word wall cards activities and games5th grade math vocabulary word wall cards activities and gamesElementary Math Resource Collection

5. Math Facts

Math fact fluency is so important! Give students addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division problems to solve.

6. Number Puzzle

Encourage students to use their critical thinking skills to solve math puzzles.

math number tile puzzles for addition and subtractionmath number tile puzzles for multiplication and divisionElementary Math Resource Collection

7. Crossword Puzzle

Invite students to do a crossword puzzle with the math vocabulary from the topic you are currently teaching.

8. Word Search

Invite students to do a word search with vocabulary from the topic you are currently teaching.

8 Literacy Do Now Examples

Below are some examples of literacy do now activities.

1. Letter Tracing

Ask students to trace the letters on the page with their finger, eraser, and then pencil.

2. High Frequency Word Tracing

Ask students to trace the letters on the page with their finger, eraser, and then pencil.

3. KWL Chart

Have students fill out part of a KWL chart.

4. Free Write

Give students 5 minutes to write about whatever they want to, but they must keep their pencil moving at all times.

5. Think and Write

Put up an interesting image on the board and ask students to write about what is happening in the image.  Another option is to show a book cover and have them write about what they think the book is about.

6. Read and Write

Give students a reading passage and ask them to respond to open-ended questions/prompts.

7. Crossword Puzzle

Invite students to do a crossword puzzle with the high frequency words you are currently teaching.

8. Word Search

Invite students to do a word search with the high frequency words you are currently teaching.

12 Tips for Successfully Implementing Do Nows

Below are 12 tips for successfully and confidently implementing do nows in your classroom.

  1. Maintain consistency in the routine.
  2. Think about high engagement when planning.
  3. Ensure difficulty is appropriate for independent work.
  4. Use it to review prior learning that connects to new learning.
  5. Keep it open-ended.
  6. Limit task length to 3-10 minutes.
  7. Provide specific instructions both orally and in writing.
  8. Use picture directions for early readers.
  9. Ensure students know how to access all materials they need independently.
  10. Maintain a quiet and productive classroom environment.
  11. Go over answers/responses right afterward.
  12. Provide feedback on the assignment to motivate students to participate in the do now.

In closing, we hope you found this list of fun ways to start a lesson helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these posts:

Learn what do now activities are and why elementary classroom teachers should use them daily. These lesson starter activities include bell ringers and do nows, which also work well for morning work in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms. Read the blog post now!  #donow #donowactivities #bellringer #bellringeractivities #bellringers #donows #elementaryclassroom #morningwork

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