Learning Strategies: Calming Lesson Starters | The Highly Effective Teacher Learning Strategies: Calming Lesson Starters | The Highly Effective Teacher

Learning Strategies: Calming Lesson Starters

Joanna Anderson

Learning Strategies

Stress, it’s almost endemic for teachers.

Unfortunately, the more stressed you are, the less favorable your interactions with students are likely to be. Of course, when the way you relate to your students begins to deteriorate, so do other issues like behavior management, learning quality, and student enthusiasm.

The good news is that various strategies can help keep things as calm as possible in the classroom. In fact, in particular, if you can begin calmly, your lessons are likely to continue in that fashion. A topic you can read all about below. 

What is a starter activity? 

A starter activity, (not too hard to understand), is one that begins your lesson. The idea is to make the activities short and relatively easy. Then students can work unassisted as soon as they arrive. Something that allows you to supervise the others arriving and greet them calmly while setting a quiet and focused tone for learning

Additionally, a starter activity can be used for a range of things.

These can include revealing the topic or theme of the lesson or reviewing the last lesson. Starters can even help other types of formative assessments, such as where the gap in learning may be. 

t can also be useful to set starter tasks that provide a sense of achievement and success. After all, we are all more motivated to work at things we have already had some success at! 

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Games and puzzles 

One type of starter activity that can work particularly well are games and puzzles. This is because students tend to see these as fun, even though they are very effective for learning. 

Of course, there are two options here when it comes to games and puzzle starters. The first is to spend some time devising your own. Something that it can be well worth doing if you know you teach them the same subjects year after year. 

However, if you are looking for ways to save time and effort, then using premade puzzles and games related to the subject that you are teaching can be just the thing.

There are lots out there too, like https://www.pennydellpuzzles.com/logic-math/, which are perfect for the beginning of maths or numeracy lessons. All you need to do is distribute them as the students arrive. 


In today’s world, students are used to interacting with multiple media sources almost consistently. The good news is that it is totally possible to integrate this into your starter activities. One way this can be done is to play a song on repeat, and ask students to write an explanation of how it relates to the topic you are studying. You may also like to use video, or podcast clips, or even interactive activities from a website. 

Here are some great lesson starter ideas:

Joanna Anderson