Bell ringers, bell work time, warm-ups, do now - whatever you call an assignment with students that starts the class, these can be useful for getting your students on task and "waking up" their brain for the lesson. A typical bell ringer lasts five to ten minutes and should challenge students and kickstart the mind or body into work mode. This also allows for teachers to prepare materials for the lesson, take attendance and create a classroom routine. It's a useful classroom management tool or an exit slip. Check out these 20 bell ringer ideas for your middle school classroom to get their creative juices flowing.
1. Blind back drawing
Partner A takes a piece of paper and places it on their partner's back. They begin to draw or write a word. Partner B needs to try to replicate the drawing on their own paper. Each partner takes turns drawing on each other's backs. Increase the challenge by using small sticky notes.
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2. Mindful Coloring
Students are given a black and white mandala and are asked to choose two colors. They need to listen to music, color their mandala and change colors when they hear a change in tempo in the music.
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The teacher creates a list of five anagrams or words that can be rearranged into other words, on the board and students need to find the new word.
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The teacher writes six or seven letters consisting of consonants and vowels on the board. Students complete the activity by writing down as many words using only the letters on the board.
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5. Origami Challenge
Print off a set of instructions to create your own origami. Give students one or two options and a few pieces of paper to try to make an origami masterpiece.
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6. Scavenger Hunt
The teacher hides clues or task cards in different areas of the classroom and students go on a scavenger hunt. You can theme your hunt to the lesson of the day such as social studies or poetry. To stimulate some competition, you can break your class up into small groups.
Learn more: 28 Ingenious School Scavenger Hunts For Students
7. Silent Order
Each student is given a playing card that they hold on their forehead. Without looking at their own card, students need to arrange themselves in order from smallest to largest without talking.
8. Add a Word
One student starts by saying one word. The next student needs to say that word and add another. Students create a story by adding a word, but they need to remember everything else that was previously said.
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9. Creative Writing
The beauty of writing. Creative, thought-provoking writing prompts can be a great way to show someone's skill in writing. It challenges students and it can be an authentic learning experience to be able to express themselves in a creative way. For this bell work activity, you can use an image on the board as a visual reminder of the topic.
Learn more: Teaching Expertise
10. Marshmallow Toothpick Tower
Students are given a set number of toothpicks and mini marshmallows. The challenge is to build the tallest tower. Incorporate math to make this challenging by making each toothpick and marshmallow worth an amount and giving students a set allowance to spend.
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11. Rhythm Master
Students sit in a circle. One student is the detective. The rhythm master is selected without the detective knowing and they start a rhythm by clapping their hands, slapping their thighs, etc. Everyone needs to follow the rhythm and the detective needs to guess who the rhythm master is.
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Students lie still on the ground, eyes open. One student is the grave keeper. They walk around trying to make other students smile or laugh without touching them. Once achieved, they rise from their grave and join the grave keeper in making others smile.
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13. Human Knot
Students stand in a tight circle facing each other. Everyone takes their right hand and reaches it across the circle to grab another hand. They will do the same with the left hand to a different person. Once everyone is linked, students must untangle the human knot without letting go.
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14. Hoop Pass
Students make 2 even circles. Everyone joins hands with a hula hoop between one pair of students in each circle. Students race to move the hula hoop over and under everyone. The first team to get the hoop back to the starting point without breaking hands wins.
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15. Blindfolded Bring Me
Students partner up with one student blindfolded. They need to listen to their partner giving verbal directions to pick up something and bring it to a destination. For example, grab a pencil and put it into a pencil case on the other side of the room.
16. Blind Land Mines
Students partner up with one person blindfolded. The other person must guide their blindfolded partner through scattered disposable cups or "land mines" on the ground to the other side. If they touch the land mine, they are eliminated.
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17. Pat Head, Rub Stomach
The rules are simple, pat your head up and down with one hand while simultaneously rubbing your stomach in a circular motion, then switch hands. Sounds easy? Give it a try!
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18. Riddle of the Day
19. Culture Research
Split up the class into small groups and choose a country. Have each group research different cultural facts about that country. For example, one group researches food, another group finds dances or rituals, etc.
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20. Heads Up
Use a device with the "heads up" app or simply use pieces of paper with words or phrases on them. Partner up or split the class into even groups. Take turns holding up the paper while the other people use clues to make them guess the word or phrase.
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