Simple Starters # 8 – Mystery Guest

A little competition is always good for warming the class up.  In this activity pupils are given clues to help them identify a “mystery guest”.  The first clue should be deliberately vague or ambiguous, and each subsequent clue should be a little more precise, with the final clue being a dead giveaway. If pupils get the answer on the last clue, they should score one point, if they get it on the second to last clue then they score 2 points, and so on.

This starter could just be used as a quick recap activity, but it can also provide a good introduction to exploring key themes.  For example, in English literature the first clue for one guest could be “somebody who has fallen out with a close relative”, and then the same clue could be used for an entirely different guest, thereby highlighting just how often family strife is central to tragic events.

For those who don’t teach English literature or subjects where “mystery guests” are easy to come up with, it is worth bearing in mind that it doesn’t actually have to be a person – it could just as easily be an “item”, a “theme” or a “topic”, though these might require a little more imagination!

Simple Starters # 6 – pairs

This simple starter works well as a quick revision activity. From a series of topics select two words which are peculiar to each one. Present all the words to the pupils in a random order, and ask them to spot the pairs.


A more sophisticated version of this activity can be created by selecting words where the pairs are not so obvious, or where each word could potentially be linked with several of the others on offer. Pupils are then challenged to explain the thinking behind the links that they pick out.