Put left handed scissors out on your learners desks.
Watch the right handers struggle and the left handers don't understand why it is so easy. Great icebreaker or warm up activity.
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Check out the above website for an endless source of puzzles, optical illusions etc.

How to get your trainees ready to learn


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Enjoy this amazing visual icebreakers/warm up e-book. Great fun, gets the brain going.
Exercises are arranged from easy to hard. Simply a must have. Can be used for a quick energiser as well.
To get the brain ready to learn, do this at the start of every session.  Possibly after each break.  Definitely after lunch. It is important for the brain to have a few minutes to adjust and get focused.

The ready to learn activities are split up in the following categories:
  • Icebreakers
  • Warm Ups
  • Revision activities
  • Energisers
Lets have a look at the purpose of each.

This is the term for getting to know your students and they need to get to know you. Many icebreakers are based on naming games, which is important if you are spending several days with the same group. The quicker you learn their names , the more respect you get. For larger groups the getting to know activities are normally based on introductions to the group or both your neighbours. It is important that you share some personal details with your learners to show them you are creditable. This is also the time to set some ground rules.

Example: The ABC

This activity is great when you need to get a group of strangers working in a group. This will get them talking and working together quickly.
Give each group a large sheet of paper and some felt tips. Ask them to write down the alphabet from top to bottom. When you count down to three they need to find personal items for each letter of the alphabet. (a-apple, b-brush, c-comb, d-dollar etc) It is guaranteed that they will be stuck with some letters. The group to finish first wins. Let them read out their list and let the rest of the group decide if all items are "legal".

This is the term used for when  you know the group, it is no longer their first day. Warm ups are used at the start of the session and can consist of a revision activity to see how much has been retained since the last session. It can also be used to find out what they already know about, what you are about to teach. It is all about getting ready to learn.

Example: Beach Ball

Buy a cheap blow up beach ball. Using a permanent marker pen write words and  or instructions all over the ball. These could be words related to what you have already taught, perhaps words they are learning today and some crazy instructions not relevant to your topic at all, (do 3 star jumps, everybody hop across the room now, make a chicken noise etc- anything to create a little giggle or physical movement). Have group stand in a circle around the room and throw the ball around. Each person who catches the ball need to explain or do what ever their left thumb is pointing at (select any finger you like and change the rules as often as you like!). This activity can take as long and short as you like and can be used several times. You might be adding words to it as they are progressing through their course. Perhaps give each group their own ball and they write words down throughout the course and play this activity using a different ball each time. That way it turns into a competition and the complexity will go up as they are trying to put the other too shame.

Your learners can only concentrate for 10-20 minutes, after that you need to change the mode you are teaching in. Throwing in a fun revision activity is ideal, or change the pace but assess at the same time what is sinking in. Identify what needs revisiting and re teach after the activity. Doing a revision activity after lunch is an excellent way of warming up the brains.

Example: Story time

Sometimes it is easier to remember a silly story when the student needs to learn a list of words. Lets think about having to learn place names on a map (relate this example to what ever you are teaching). Put all names in a hat and let each student draw out one, including yourself. In their own time let each student find the name of the map and using resource material  find one interesting/relevant fact about that place name.
You will start of the story
...I am walking over the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia trying to find the airport when I meet a good friend of mine Jason (now Jason will take over). Together we fly to Melbourne and visit the Rialto Tower which is the highest tower in the Southern Hemisphere and I bump into this crazy lady Mary (now Mary takes over) and I say, watch out, I am from Darwin where I can feed you to my pet crocodile which almost happened to Henry... etc.
While doing this activity make sure you have an Australian map in this instance and let each student show where it is.
Once the story is established, repeat it, things will get added, more fun will be put in but in the end they will associate the name with the student name, and the relevant fact and where it is on the map.

Ideally you have a list of energisers on the ready and use them when you need them. An energiser is used for when the brains are dead. They are losing the plot and need rescuing.These are normally pretty quick and when executed properly the student does not really know why you did and how you got onto it.
These are probably the hardest to master from a tutoring point of view as many tutors are not comfortable doing them.

Example: Finger pointing at the ceiling

This is a fantastic quick energiser and they don't even know it is happening.
When you are ready to ask somebody a question, or appoint a team leader, or delegate a task, just simply say: "everybody have your left index finger pointing to the ceiling like this". Now point to one person in the class. (fingers will go every where and some will change direction so be quick to react.) "Hold that while I count". Who ever gets the most fingers pointed at is "it" and explain what you want this person to do.
This is effective as it is change from just sitting behind their desks, it save you having to pick a person, they had fun doing it.
Next time ask them to point a thumb, or pinky or if everybody is wearing trousers, why not a foot.